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Casting Moneyball — the movie

Columbia Pictures recently signed a writer and director for a big-screen adaptation of the best-selling baseball book Moneyball, which explores the unorthodox scouting and business procedures of the small-market Oakland A’s and General Manager Billy Beane.

Who’s possibly in line to play Beane? Brad Pitt.

While I’m not buying that one, I’m no casting scout so I did the next best thing — I scoured the Internet for some mug shots (not the cards below) and went to myheritage.com and used its Celebrity Face Recognition software to cast the flick …

Billy Beane, A’s General Manager
As a player, he was the can’t-miss prospect who did just that. He was a bust — which is perhaps one of the reasons he defies conventional wisdom with scouting. (Well, that and the fact that his team is constantly a few million short … ) The book focuses on his role during the 2002 draft.

Key card: None, really, but his 1986 Donruss card is one of his RCs.

Casting call (actual names generated from the site based off his images): Dennis Quaid, Emilio Estevez, Colin Farrell, Patrick Dempsey, Rick Schroeder, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Andie McDowell.

My pick: While Farrell’s bristly vocabulary is probably accurate given the contents of Moneyball, I just can’t pick him. Quaid? He’s been in too many sports movies. Spacey? Beane is no Lex Luthor — he’d have a World Series title by now. And while I’d love to see Andie McDowell pull it off — and playing Beane would be the antithesis of Bridges’ The Dude in The Big Lebowski – I think maybe Pitt might be the man compared to this list. If not, I’ll go with Schroeder.

Nick Swisher, outfield/1st base
The star player of Moneyball the guy that Beane and the scouts could agree on was Swisher — a player that was so much of a high on Beane’s want list that he didn’t scout him in person fearing that would tip his hand to others.

Key card: 2002 Bowman Draft Chrome.

Casting call (actual names generated from the site): Short-haired Swisher — Chris Noth, Annika Sorenstam, Dwight Eisenhower, Johnny Damon, Mel Gibson, Benicio Del Toro, Leo DiCaprio. Long-haired Swisher — Tom Brady, Edward Norton, Ruben Studdard, Rose McGowan.

My pick: I’d have to bet that this movie would show the “evolution” of Swisher from prospect to longhair — he grew out his hair to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a program that makes wigs for cancer patients — and then end with his shocking trade to the Chicago White Sox in January. Really, Damon (whose exit via free agency gave the A’s the draft pick used for Swisher) makes most sense here given his follicular exploits — except Swisher is more of a talker. And while Studdard and McGowan are interesting picks, we need some star power in this part. Let’s go with DiCaprio.

Joe Blanton, pitcher
Like Swisher, this former University of Kentucky star was one of the key players from the Moneyball draft for the A’s — and like Swisher he’s no longer with the team. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies this season and may have a World Series ring to show for it later tonight.

Key card: 2002 Bowman Draft Chrome.

Casting call (actual names generated from the site): Apolo Ohno, Tom Welling, Snoop Dogg, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon.

My pick: Hmm. Is the facial recognition software working? Blanton’s not built like any of these guys — I don’t call him Fat Joe for nothin’. We can’t have a Smallville Superman trumping the star of the movie. (Well, unless you think Blanton is the star … like I said, he might have a World Series ring later tonight.) Man, I don’t like any of these picks — how ’bout Philip Seymour Hoffman? They’re at least built alike …

Jeremy Brown, catcher
This University of Alabama star famously was the “fat-bodied” catcher who wasn’t among Baseball America’s top 25 at his position — yet the the A’s drafted in the first round.

An excerpt from the book:

“This kid wears a large pair of underwear,” says another old scout. It’s the first time in two days that this old scout has spoken. …

“Okay,” says Billy.

“It’s soft body,” says the most vocal old scout. “A fleshy kind of a body.”

“Oh, you mean like Babe Ruth?” says Billy. Everyone laughs, the guys on Billy’s side of the room more happily than the older scouts across from him.

“I don’t know,” says the scout. “A body like that can be low energy.”

“Sometimes low energy is just being cool,” says Billy.

“Yeah,” says the scout. “Well, in this case low energy is because when he walks, his thighs stick together.”

“I repeat: we’re not selling jeans here,” says Billy.

“That’s good,” says the scout. “Because if you put him in corduroys, he’d start a fire.”

Key card: 2002 Bowman Draft Chrome.

Casting call (actual names generated): Owen Wilson, Pedro Martinez, Sophie Marceau, Cameron Bright.

My pick: What is it with Pedro popping up on here — does his agent have that much pull? And as much as I’d love to see Marceau pull off this part, something tells me that the jeans scene above would be problematic (unless there’s a product placement sponsor), so I’ll go with Bright — since he’s only 15 it could add to the role of the already-retired Brown.

Mark Teahen, 3rd base/outfield
A’s fans never really got to see what he could do — he was part of the trade that landed the A’s Octavio Dotel – but he’s done relatively well with the lowly Kansas City Royals the last few seasons.

Key card: 2002 Bowman Draft Chrome.

Casting call (actual names generated): Lionel Richie, Ernest Borgnine, Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Willem Dafoe, Hugh Jackman.

My pick: What? Perhaps he looked older in the photo I submitted. Let’s go with Vin Diesel and presume that Teahen wants to blow up McAfee Coliseum in action star-style when he plays his former franchise in one late-movie sequence.

Casting other players of note …

Tim Hudson: Freddie Prinze Jr., Ludacris, Wyatt Hanson. … Uh, the only serious option here is Prinze.

Mark Mulder: Matthew Fox, James Van Der Beek, Richard Gere. … Only one man is Mulder. It’s this guy.

Barry Zito: Enrique Iglesias, Nick Lachey, Seann William Scott. … Zito has it all — and lost it, something that Iglesias, Lachey, and Scott can identify with. Zito’s filthy rich but has lost his game. Iglesias lost Anna Kournikova (we think), Lachey lost Jessica Simpson. And Scott, a ka Stiffler? Not sure he had anything to lose — and he might be able to play Zito, after all. He showed off some serious Zitoesque guitar skills in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Skinny Jason Giambi: Rebecca Romijn, Tom Cruise, Ashton Kutcher, Hillary Swank. … I don’t care if BALCO wasn’t a part of this book, skinny Giambi will make his way into the story. And Swank has the acting chops to pull off this role.

Bulked-up Jason Giambi: Ruben Studdard, Willie Nelson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Derek Jeter. … I know it’s facial-recognition software, and it can be finicky, but man. I’ll take Studdard with a lot of creative license — think Kingpin in Daredevil.

Bobby Crosby: Matthew Perry, Isaac Hanson, Ralph Nader, Dolph Lundgren, Matt Damon. Hmm … I hated Friends, so it’s either a Hanson (Mmm-bop!), Ivan Drago, or Damon. Forget that, I’ll go with Ben Affleck — he was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.

Have any choices of your own? Let this Oakland A’s fan know …

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

5 Comments

Nice post man. Moneyball is a GREAT book. I could see Brad Pitt as Beane.

Posted October 27, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
President Obama

Ellen Degenres would play a good Billy Beane

Posted October 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
Todd

Excellent post. Great stuff on Jeremy Brown. Macauley Culkin maybe?

Posted October 27, 2008 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

whatever happened to is it me, Freddie Prinze Jr., anyway?

Posted January 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
chrisolds

Believe it or not, Prinze was hired as a member of the World Wrestling Entertainment creative (writing) team last year — so he’s helping bring television programming of a different sort to you these days.

Posted January 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

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