I’ve been a bit skeptical of the “Moneyball” movie for a long time. I worry that it will be too impenetrable for mainstream audiences and too simplified and Hollywood-ized for baseball freaks, thus leaving everyone disappointed. I’d like to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not holding out super strong hope.
Our own Aaron Gleeman is going to see “Moneyball” before it comes out and we’ll have a review of it next week, but I just read a review that suggests that it may be good. No, it’s not a review that says “Moneyball is really good!” It’s a review that says “Moneyball was better than expected,” but it came from a guy who starts his review thusly:
“There’s nothing that interests me less than sports movies … I’m a British guy who pretty much hates all sports and couldn’t show less interest in them if I tried. Seriously, I’ve tried. Anyway, for those of you have never seen a baseball game before, I can tell you that they are excruciatingly dull. They are in no way as dynamic as they seem on the big screen. The big screen cuts out all the f—— waiting. Baseball is a game made up of waiting… And I thought cricket was bad.”
Despite that, the guys gives an overall good review. Not great. He thinks it’s kind of boring. Says “You haven’t seen this much brooding since Twilight. ” Calls Aaron Sorkin’s script is like “The Social Network, minus the brilliance.” Lots of faint praise in this piece, but he likes the actors and thinks there’s good chemistry between them and is generally entertained and comes off with what can be called a slightly warm feeling towards the film.
Given how much this dude hates baseball and sports in general, am I crazy to think that it might actually be pretty decent?
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.