It’s the final night of the week for BCB After Dark: your members-only club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Good to see you stop by tonight. Please let us show you to your table. There’s no cover charge tonight and we’re giving out guest passes to non-members. Bring your own beverage. The show will start shortly.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
The Cubs lost to the White Sox tonight, 4-3 in a game that was as frustrating as any game the Cubs played this season. You have to give the White Sox some credit for being in the right spot and making the plays, but it just seemed like someone on the Cubs stole Jobu’s rum before the game.
Last night, I asked you which player on the White Sox would you most like to steal for the Cubs. You spoke pretty loudly that you want Dylan Cease back, with 42 percent of the vote. In a distant second place was Luis Robert with 18 percent. Tim Anderson got 15 percent for third place.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you wish. You won’t hurt my feelings.
The great jazz bassist Ron Carter turned 85 today (Wednesday) and in honor of that, NPR released a new “Tiny Desk (Home) Concert” featuring Carter performing three songs alongside Donald Vega on piano and Russell Malone on guitar.
It’s a lovely, intimate performance. And isn’t that just like Ron Carter. It’s his birthday, but we’re the one that gets the present.
On Wednesday nights/Thursday mornings, I don’t write normally write about any single movie, but I try to ask a question to throw things open for discussion.
It was suggested in the comments a few weeks ago (before I got sick) that we discuss movies that were better than the book that they were based on. I had a problem with that because I couldn’t think of any movie that I actually thought was better than the book. That’s not because there aren’t a lot of movies that aren’t better than the book that they’re based on, but rather that I don’t read a ton of books that aren’t really well-regarded in the first place. It’s kind of a tricky area—the book has to be good enough to get made into a movie but not so good that the film can’t be better than it.
That’s not to say that there are not a lot of films that are better than the book that they’re based on. The Wizard of Oz comes to mind, but I’m not sure I ever read that book cover-to-cover. If I did, I was probably ten years old. The film I wrote about on Monday, Odds Against Tomorrow, is based on a book that I’ve read is nowhere near as good as the movie. Or so I’m told. I’m just taking the word of critics on that since I haven’t read the book myself.
So I thought I’d just throw the discussion open to books that you love (or hate) that have been adapted into films. What did you like about the movie? What didn’t you like? Should the adaptation have been more faithful to the book or less? And which version did you like better?
Since I guess I’m supposed to get the conversation started, I’ll go first. And since this is a baseball blog, I’ll discuss one of the weirdest (and most successful) baseball book adaptations around, Moneyball. Both the Michael Lewis book from 2003 and the Bennett Miller-directed film from 2011.
Moneyball was a really odd book to adapt in the first place. I assume that most, but not all, of you have read it, but it’s really a book about business and management masquerading as a baseball book. That makes sense, as Michael Lewis’s great strength as a writer is his ability to investigate the world of business and finance and explain it in terms that a layman can understand. He’s a good storyteller and he generally manages to find a storyline to hang his financial concepts on, but Moneyball is really more about managing a business or organization than it is about baseball. Yes, it was the seminal work of the baseball sabermetric wars of the aughts and that battle seems pretty quaint today. But it’s main point is that organizations fail because they allow their biases to get in the way of reality and that management allows the way things look to convince them that is the way that actually are without further investigation. Lewis’s book is pretty dogmatic and Billy Beane and the Athletics front office were never as dismissive of the work of scouts, for example, as Lewis portrayed them as.
Moneyball was a best-seller, so there were early attempts to turn it into a movie that failed. But after a second Michael Lewis book about sports, The Blind Side, got turned into a surprise smash-hit movie, Hollywood was going to find a way to turn Moneyball into a movie.
The film Moneyball bears a passing resemblance to the book, The stuff about sabermetrics and a coldly-analytic approach are still there, but Moneyball the film is actually a very lovely little baseball movie about a bunch of misfits that come together and become winners. This is something that we’ve seen before, but in Moneyball those misfits are mostly in the front office, which isn’t something that had been done before. It also has a lovely take on baseball and dreams and what it means to be a “winner.”
Of course, Moneyball the film does this by taking a lot of liberties with the truth. No general manager shows up at a free agent’s home on Christmas unannounced with a coach by their side to make a pitch. Of course, a realistic portrait of how negotiations work would not have given us the now-famous line by Brent Jennings-as-Ron Washington: “It’s incredibly hard.”
The A’s players never had to pay for their own soda. Grady Fuson wasn’t fired in anger by Billy Beane. He left for a higher-paying job with more responsibility with the Rangers. Far from firing him, Beane begged him to stay. There are other examples like that.
Still, if you accept that Moneyball is a baseball movie and not actually baseball, it’s a terrific film. Is it better than the book? I can’t really say that because they serve such different purposes. But I’d recommend them both, even if the book seems a bit naïve at this point.
So now it’s your turn. What books have you read that were turned into films you watched? And what did you think of that?
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.
Tonight I’m going to ask you who the best team in baseball is. Not just who has the best record, because we’re still in small-sample-size territory, but who do you think is the best team in baseball.
The Yankees lost earlier tonight, but they had won 11 in a row before that. They have the best record in baseball. The Dodgers have been winning a lot of games and they’re just a game back in the “best record in baseball” race, but they’re tied with the Brewers and Mets.
But as I wrote, it’s still a small sample. Some teams have played tougher schedules than others. So I’m going to let you choose between the nine teams with the best records in baseball right now. If you think a different team is better right now, you’re wrong. If you’re saying that the team with the tenth-best record in baseball is the best team in MLB right now, you’re wrong. Maybe one of those other 21 teams will be the best team in baseball in October, but they aren’t at the moment.
So who is the best team in baseball right now?
Who is the best team in baseball right now?
This poll is closed
New York Yankees (18-7)
Los Angeles Dodgers (16-7)
Milwaukee Brewers (17-8)
New York Mets (18-9)
San Diego Padres (16-9)
Los Angeles Angels (16-10)
Toronto Blue Jays (16-10)
Minnesota Twins (15-10)
Tampa Bay Rays (15-10)
Thank you so much for supporting us over the past week. We hope you’ve had an enjoyable time. Please get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again next week for another week of shows at BCB After Dark.