The Detroit News: Athletics GM Billy Beane finds balance as 'Moneyball' nears

September 13th, 2011

The Detroit News

September 13, 2011

By, Mark Emmons


He’s about to be immortalized on the big screen — by Brad Pitt, no less — but Billy Beane has said barely a word about it. Few interviews. No talk radio. And forget “Entertainment Tonight.”

His silence about the much-anticipated film “Moneyball,” due for release Sept. 23, has led to speculation the Oakland Athletics general manager is uncomfortable being cast as a genius at a time when the standings tell such a different story. But Beane said his source of unease is something else entirely.

“The hard thing for me has been figuring out how to walk this fine line,” Beane said this week. “If I embrace all this movie stuff, it looks like I’m really digging it. But if I put my hand up and say, ‘No,’ I look like I’m distancing myself from it. There’s no playbook for this.”

A’s owner Lew Wolff, who saw an early cut of the movie with Beane, believes his GM has struck the right balance.

“Billy is not the kind of guy who is looking for fame, at least the Hollywood kind,” Wolff said. “But I think he’s handled this beautifully by not making too much of it. I know he likes the movie a lot, but he hasn’t gone Hollywood by a long shot.”

“Moneyball” is the film adaptation of Berkeley, Calif., author Michael Lewis’ 2003 book that lionized Beane’s revolutionary approach to building small-budget teams into baseball contenders. Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) wrote the screenplay and the cast includes Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (as A’s manager Art Howe) and Jonah Hill.

Beane admits the whole movie thing is “a little surreal.

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