“Moneyball” earns $20.6 million in strong opening weekend

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“Moneyball” looks like a mini-hit, as the movie made $20.6 million in its opening weekend while narrowly finishing behind “The Lion King 3D” ($22.1 million) and ahead of “Dolphin Tale” ($20.3 million) at the box office.

Claude Brodesser-Akner of New York Magazine places “Moneyball” among the “weekend winners” and reports that the audience was evenly split between males and females while 64 percent of the people who saw the movie during its first three days at the theater were over 35 years old.

“Moneyball” has a 94 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes–my review was also positive, but with some caveats–so presumably it’ll have a pretty decent shelf life beyond the solid opening week. With a budget under $50 million it should turn a significant profit pretty easily.

All of which is why Calcaterra and I will be pitching “HardballTalk: The Movie” to various Hollywood studios later this week. And by “pitching” I actually mean “wasting time on Google Chat talking about which far-too-good-looking actors should play us.”

My preferred choices are Don Cheadle or Jonah Hill, assuming the latter is willing to put all the weight he lost back on for the role. Calcaterra will be played by the long-deceased Telly Savalas, obviously.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.