Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Moneyball! and cards!

Jim is a blog reader who's developed into a friend over the past year - he lives across the bay so we've found time to get together a few times. You'd remember him from this trade post.

We made plans and Thursday afternoon we screened the new Moneyball film. I thought it was excellent, and for the first time I can remember since American Beauty and Almost Famous I was able to sit through a drama without wondering when the film was going to end.

I'm sure you're familiar with the film if you're a regular reader of this blog - Brad Pitt's character (Billy Beane) hires Jonah Hill to bring his Bill James style of scouting to the Athletics. Drama ensues with a typical Hollywood "Brad Pitt's character is the good guy" ending. As I hinted above, it's a great film about baseball, not just a great baseball film. Jim noted there were women in the theater who probably wouldn't be found at a screening for Major League or The Natural. The setting is the 2002 Oakland A's season, from their loss in the ALDS to the Twins in 2001 through the playoffs. You can tell it's Oakland - the shots of the Oakland port and stadium guarantee that. The story is inspiring and moves quickly enough, with just the right amount of actual baseball included to make it fun for fans of baseball movies.

Speaking of which, how long has it been since we've had a real, good, baseball movie? The last I can recall is A League Of Their Own. Has it been that long? Am I forgetting something?

Billy Beane's character spits tobacco. A lot. I'm not sure if that was important to his character or not, but I certainly noticed it. Pitt does his usual good job of acting, but the surprising actor was Jonah Hill. There were several scenes that he pulled off that I wouldn't expect, most notably the trade scene during the turning point of the movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors, and he did a great job as Art Howe, though I noticed that he came off as quite a jerk during the whole thing, never wanting to listen to Beane's plans and just overall playing almost a villain in the film. At some point he must have come around to Beane's way of thinking, but after the trade scene mentioned above he just sort of falls from the story. Perhaps that was meant as a way of saying Beane made Howe's job meaningless after a discussion they had around that point in the film.

Now I can't judge how true to the characters and reality the movie is, nor how well it follows the book - I was out of baseball and the Bay Area in 2002, and the book isn't in my library yet (that will change eventually). However, factual or not, accurate or not, it's a great film that I will probably end up seeing again (something I don't say very often, especially with dramas). I give it four baseballs out of five.
Now, I mentioned cards in the title. So I suppose I need to hold true to that part of the deal. Jim and I grabbed lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. This was the first time I've been to BWW since leaving Atlanta, and man oh man, that wing sauce is AWESOME. Before eating, I gave Jim a nice Mike Schmidt I picked up a week ago:
I still owe him for the Sportscasters cards he brought me in June. Well, he said he had some stuff for me off my want list. He mentioned complete sets and junk wax, and I had an idea where he was going.

There were two factory set boxes in a bag that he handed to me as we said our goodbyes. One of them was for 2005 Topps, and I was about to chastise him for bringing me such a great item with nothing planned in return. He quickly brought me back to earth, when he mentioned and I saw that it contained this set:
Ah, 1990 Donruss. I actually like the design. Maybe it's the tiny, itty bitty part of me that appreciates that style of abstract paint-splatter art. I'd do something about the top part of the card, but I can ignore that. In typical junk wax fashion, I found nine players who amount to a net worth of about nine cents in the set.
The other set was in its proper box - the 1991 Donruss set. If you remember (how could you forget), the set came in two series, with each series being a different color. I prefer the green (blue was done to death with the 1988 Donruss set). I have a couple decent players in at the end, just for the fun of it.

Both sets came with the Rookies set, and 1990's included the puzzle!

Thanks a ton Jim, for a great time, and the cards! I've got some Chicles for you. A whole bunch of Chicles.

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