Chris Ballard on How The Rockets Are Bringing Moneyball To The NBA
Rockets G.M. Daryl Morey is the NBA’s equivalent of baseball’s Billy Beane. He sees basketball differently from most NBA executives, and using analytical methods that many other general managers reject – or even mock – Morey revamped his roster in the off-season, working the margins of the sport’s economy, then unloading players when their value peaked. Morey knows many other executives are rooting for him to fail, but Chris Ballard explores why Morey will risk everything to back up his methods (page 55).
Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy was sidelined for much of his team’s improbable playoff push after being hit in the skull with a line drive on September 5. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, he reflects on how Billy Beane, Bob Melvin and trainer Nick Paparesta embodied the team’s family mentality by sitting with his wife during his surgery, discusses his recuperation and offers a look into the A’s tight-knit clubhouse (page 68).
Brad Pitt, the star of the upcoming movie Moneyball, doffs an Oakland A’s hat and graces the cover of this week’s September 26, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. Pitt joins an exclusive group of non-athletes and non-coaches to be so honored — a list that includes Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, Stephen Colbert, Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, Steve McQueen and Arnold Schwarzenegger in addition to former presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (appearances on the 11/26/84 and 2/16/87 covers) and Bill Clinton.
Commenting on his photo shoot with SI photographer Simon Bruty, Pitt says: “I was just happy to do Sports Illustrated. To do something other than the fashion-y things, for something I respect, is much more fun.”
Senior writer Austin Murphy (@si_austinmurphy) spoke at great length with Pitt about getting Moneyball made. Among the topics they discussed:
- Pitt’s background (or lack thereof) in baseball: “It’s shameful how little I know about baseball…. I’m amazed they let me do this movie…. Baseball and I didn’t get along that well. I wrestled one year [in high school]. I dove one year. Everything but baseball.”
- How Pitt acquitted himself to his role as a baseball lifer: “I’m an Oklahoma-Missouri boy, so I’m no stranger to a bit of dip. We start early with that, so really, I was just revisiting my roots.”
- What Pitt was initially drawn to about the story: “I’m a sucker for the underdog story.”
- The end goal of the film: “What we were trying to do is tell an unconventional story in the Trojan horse of a conventional baseball movie.”
- The comparisons Pitt makes to the movie and three of his favorite ’70s films (The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, All the President’s Men): “In scripts today, someone has a big epiphany, learns a lesson, then comes out the other side different. In these older films I’m talking about, the beast at the end of the movie was the same beast in the beginning of the movie. What changed was the world around them, by just a couple of degrees. Nothing monumental. I think that’s true about us. We fine‑tune ourselves, but big change is not real.”