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Monday, January 9, 2012

Moneyball: The Order of Seduction and Challenge OR The Order of Production and Accumulation

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill
The flashbacks of Billy Beane as a child, a young baseball player in high school, etc are shown in the order in which Beane/Pitt remembers them. While we may live our life linearly, we remember it in clusters.(Reconstruction - Josephine Hart)

As a child we see the joy and thrill in Billy's eyes. Playing. Then his child's uniform that makes him so proud. Little League probably. His doubt at signing so young with a full scholarship to Stamford in hand, the worry lines in his face that will deepen as he ages.

If you have ever loved baseball in any way, spent a great deal of time planning around games, then you will know the pure seduction of the game. Playing as a child puts you in Baudrillard's Order of Seduction and Challenge. It is a time you will always treasure, and in seeing this film, it all comes back, along with the feelings.

In the film we watch the great former Yankee Justice, now on the downward curve of his career. He is bitter. No wonder. A love of his life is coming to an end as it does for all of them. It's a terrible loss. Justice stands there and practices hitting a mechanical pitcher that keeps throwing the ball at him, keeping in shape, trying to maintain his edge as long as he can. But now we observe Justice in the Order of Production and Exchange, no longer in the Order of Seduction and Challenge. And this is a sad moment, a real moment, a Baudrillardian moment.

This moment will happen to all of us, unless we reflect on it carefully.

An object does not exist until and unless it is observed. - William Burroughs

This moment came very soon to Billy Beane, the boy of such great promise who couldn't deliver. Brad Pitt enlightens us as he reveals his superior intelligence to us. An intelligence that perhaps wanted more than just physical expertise and eye hand coordination in playing a game? He knows when destiny opens that window to him in the form of Pete/Jonah Hill, the recent Yale graduate, who has invented a mathematical model for predicting the value of undervalued players. He gets on base being the mantra

And so begins the change in the Dominating Discourse of major league scouting. Gone completely now the Order of Seduction and Challenge as baseball enters the Order of Production and Exchange, a mathematical calculation spreadsheet that determines who gets chosen.
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio

Will winning games ever replace the thrill of seeing DiMaggio in motion on the field or at the plate? Or watching the aged Satchel Paige come in as relief pitcher for the Indians at home in Cleveland in 1953? Finally in the big leagues at last.

Young Satchel Paige

By Saam Philadelphia Sports Announcer
Or the Phillies' Whiz Kids, or Bobby Feller the first $100,000 check in baseball? Or By Saam's excitement on radio and then TV as "It's going! It's going! It's over the fence!"  

In  Connie Mack Stadium at Shibe Park. No, I cannot even remember 

who won the games I watched when I saw these players. Nor I bet did 

Hemingway when he wrote Old Man and the Sea. This model is

going to implode the game just as Scummit is imploding the 
Hollywood machine. Unless the personalities remain intact, as is seen at the end of the movie. Let us pray.

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Pitt of course is remarkable in this film. But then he always is, after being used as eye candy when young with his self-described "wonder-bread look". 

Seymour Hoffman is that special character actor who always surprises without surprising us. How does he do it!

Connie Mack
Connie Mack was the original owner and mastermind of the Philadelphia Athletics, now the Oakland Athletics. I cannot forgive them for leaving for the West Coast. They played at Shibe Park, later renamed Connie Mack Stadium in honor of the original.

Shibe Park - Connie Mack Stadium
Billy Beane received the "gift" of a large contract offer when just out of high school.
Has he given the "counter-gift" that will destroy baseball
as Baudrillard gave Foucault the "counter gift"
with his book Forget Foucault.

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