Movie Perfection: Moneyball and The Crack of the Bat

The 2011 Bennett Miller directed hit Moneyball is one of the better sports flicks of the 21st century and it contains one particular scene that qualifies as Movie Perfection.

Based on a true story, the picture focuses on Billy Beane (Brad Pitt in an Oscar nominated performance), owner of the Oakland A’s baseball franchise. When the team loses its big free agents to richer teams like the Red Sox, Billy buys into the team building ideas of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill, also Oscar nominated). The theory relies not on marquee names, but solely on which players stats lead to wins. This is met with skepticism from manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and many others.

After some initial difficulty with the new format, an interesting thing begins to occur: The A’s start winning. And winning. And winning. So much so that they win 19 in a row and are going for a record-breaking 20. Billy is a rather superstitious fellow who doesn’t attend the games. The significance of a potential record-breaking moment draws him to the event after the A’s go up 11-0 and appear assured for history. What happens? The Kansas City Royals make a furious comeback and tie the game 11 all. Billy retreats back to the locker room.

And then – history is made! Scott Hatteberg, a player that no one but Billy wanted, steps up to the plate. We see the pitcher release the ball and then…

Crack!

What follows is a scene that is amazingly directed and edited. What I love most it is that, even to the most casual moviegoer, it brilliantly demonstrates the importance of not just editing, but also sound effects editing.

We hear the sound of the crack followed by the reactions of Billy, Peter, and Art. The music swells. The team celebrates. And Billy has his own moment of unbridled joy – something he doesn’t allow himself to do often. I’m not an Oakland A’s fan. Truthfully, I’m not even much of a baseball fan. However, during this scene, I am an Oakland fan and a baseball fan. I’m a fan because this scene is so well put together and features such well-written characters that you can’t help but be a fan.

I’m a fan of the movie Moneyball. And this scene is total Movie Perfection. I get goosebumps every time I see it.

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