Wall Street Journal: The Man Not Named in 'Moneyball'

September 16th, 2011

Wall Street Journal

The Man Not Named in ‘Moneyball’

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

Paul DePodesta could have been like Billy Beane. He could have had his name, his image and his story immortalized on the big screen in “Moneyball,” the film about the 2002 Oakland Athletics set to premiere next weekend.

Associated Press

Paul DePodesta, who now works for the Mets, was the inspiration for Jonah Hill’s character in ‘Moneyball.

But to DePodesta, the former Athletics executive who now works in the Mets’ front office, it was never his story. And the character that was supposed to be him always seemed like someone else. Which is why, for as much as the movie is based on a chapter of DePodesta’s career, it’s not about him at all.

Unlike Beane, the longtime Oakland general manager who is played by Brad Pitt, DePodesta isn’t named in the movie. His character, played by Jonah Hill, was given the fictional name of Peter Brand—at DePodesta’s request.

“I just could never get comfortable with the idea of somebody else portraying me to the rest of the world,” DePodesta said. “It’s very unnerving, and it was something that wasn’t going to go away. That was always in my mind.”

DePodesta’s unease with the movie isn’t a matter of shyness, though. And has nothing to do with Hill. Though the dough-faced actor looks nothing like him, DePodesta said Hill is “terrific” at his craft.

What makes DePodesta uncomfortable is the idea of being typecast as a laptop-toting, Ivy League nerd who eschews traditional scouting and relies only on statistics in making decisions.

Of course, that perception has some basis in truth. DePodesta, a 38-year-old Harvard graduate, doesn’t have a traditional baseball background. He was ahead of the curve in using statistical analysis to exploit the game’s market inefficiencies.  Read More…