Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

At The Movies

Money Ball

Money BallBrad Pitt is in top form in this bio-pic set in 2002, about the Oakland Athletics general manager (GM), Billy Beane. Stuck with a team who is on a long-arm losing streak, as well as a bottom-rung payroll budget, Beane is up against a wall when he learns that his four top players are leaving as free agents to play for the wealthier teams. Trying to negotiate a favorable trade with the Cleveland Indians only leaves him more frustrated, until he stumbles upon one of their junior employees Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), whose opinion on players’ worth influences the Indians' general manager.

After a bit of interrogation, Beane learns that Brand is a Yale graduate with a degree in Economics—not exactly the logical choice for scouting top major league players. But what he does have is an uncanny ability to look beyond the basic player statistics and pinpoint strengths that don’t show up on paper—particularly the ability to get on base. Brand’s method for discovering hidden talent is based on the theory that the more players who have a high likelihood of getting on base, the greater the likelihood of scoring runs and, thus, winning games. Beane is intrigued with this line of thinking and hires Brand away from the Indians.

I never in a million years would have thought that a baseball story would be edge-of-the-seat exciting, even with Brad Pitt in the starring role. Despite having a son who played Little League and a husband who occasionally watches baseball (especially when the Braves are doing well), I know very little about the game and have never been too interested. However, this story makes the business side of the sport exciting, intriguing, and full of political intrigue, where greedy team owners and competitive GMs shuffle players around the major league board like pawns in a chess game.

This is the heart of Money Ball: Beane has to fight against the old guard of stubborn managers and scouts who are set in their ways and too rigid to adopt Brand’s questionable method of putting a team together. It is an underdog story that doesn’t have a true Hollywood "feel good" ending, leaving the viewer a bit disappointed. While Beane does eventually find success in forging a team with an incredible winning streak (an impressive twenty games, setting the American League record), there is no pennant win and, of course, no World Series title.

Now a few comments on Brad Pitt. I have loved him as an actor and Hollywood leading man since Thelma and Louise, Legends of the Fall, Meet Joe Black, and The River Runs Through It, to name a few. Unlike those films, it was clear in this movie that he was trying to downplay his looks, particularly with close-up, grainy shots that showed every pore, wrinkle, and scar on his face—and a haircut that looked like it had been styled by a Supercuts intern and was in need of a good washing. Fortunately, Mr. Pitt failed miserably in his efforts to dissuade me (and I’m sure millions of other ladies) from admiring his handsomeness. Despite getting older, it is still very much intact.

All in all, this is not the typical sports/action movie but is more of a cerebral story with an exciting plot that builds to a satisfying moral ending. Touching scenes with Beane’s little daughter were special and heartwarming, antagonistic confrontations with the A’s manager (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) provided the necessary obstacles that propelled the story forward, and the unusual friendship and camaraderie between Beane and Brand allowed for some good humor. Also worth noting is the lack of any romance, sex, or curse words, even though there was ample opportunity to do so. I was especially glad to leave the theater and not be able to remember one time that the Lord’s name was taken in vain.

What I liked best about this story was the tenacity and perseverance Beane displayed, taking his reputation and career all the way to the edge of potential disaster, despite opposition, hostility, and naysayers on every front. But eventually, perseverance won out and Beane was successful in changing the game, which was his ultimate goal. Yes, it would have been nice for the A’s to have won a championship that year, but Beane was satisfied with his theory being proven true.

With a title like Money Ball, you might wonder whether Billy Beane made a dime from this ingenious move, and the answer is unclear. Propelled by the lack of money, he embarked on this wild, tumultuous journey to win games, eventually being offered the highest paying salary for a GM in all of baseball history—a whopping $12.5 million a year with Boston. But he turned it down to stay in Oakland, while the Red Sox incorporated his theory into their recruiting efforts and won the World Series two years later. It is a bittersweet ending, but appropriate at the same time. As in any good story, Beane discovered that there is more to baseball—and to life—than money. A good lesson for us all.