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World Series managers differ on 'Moneyball,' too

October 26, 2011 |  6:10 pm

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa is not a big fan of the "Moneyball" philosophy that Billy Beane brought to Oakland, one that emphasizes statistics such as on-base percentage over traditional metrics like batting average and home runs.

"On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think it's all about getting on base by drawing walks," La Russa said. "The fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone."

Despite his reservations about the concepts, La Russa said Wednesday that he would take advantage of the postponement of Game 6 of the World Series and go see the Brad Pitt movie version of "Moneyball," which is based on Michael Lewis' book about Beane's time as general manager of the Oakland Athletics.

"I think Brad Pitt is a great actor," La Russa said, smiling.

Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington has a slightly different take on the subject. Washington was in Oakland during the period depicted in the film and was supposed to appear as himself in the movie, but the timing didn't work out and his part was played by actor Brent Jennings.

"I liked the movie and I'm a big fan of Billy Beane," Washington said. "He gave me an opportunity to become a major league coach and he trusted me with young talent. I got this opportunity to manage because he gave me a [rousing] review to the Texas Rangers and Jon Daniels."

And while Washington said Hollywood took liberties with parts of the story, one of the most famous scenes is spot-on. In the movie, Pitt, portraying Beane, and Jennings, as Washington, go to the house of free agent catcher Scott Hatteberg, who is played by actor Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation"). The A's want to sign Hatteberg to play first base, a position at which he has no experience. In an effort to lessen Hatteberg's anxiety, Beane turns to Washington for help.

"It's not that hard," Beane says. "Tell him, Wash."

Without flinching, Washington says: "It's incredibly hard."

Washington confirmed Wednesday that the conversation happened.

"Those words were definitely spoken," said Washington, adding that the conversation took place during spring training in Phoenix and not at Hatteberg's home, as shown in the movie.  "I've always been a matter-of-fact guy, and I just point-blank told Hatteberg that it's going to be difficult. But if you're willing to put in the time we can get this done.

"And I think anyone that knows Scott Hatteberg, he's not a timid guy and he certainly turned himself into a very good first baseman."


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Photo: Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa walks across the field during a team practice session on Friday. Credit: Charlie Riedel  / Associated Press