We would be lying if we said “we no longer care” if Steven Soderbergh leaves the baseball drama. We discussed it amongst ourselves for a while and concluded, “OK, if this thing is going to go forward. “Who would be a good fit or a good choice?” After all, there is still a good and workable screenplay by Steve Zaillia that can presumably be reworked to appease the MLB and other parties, right?
Spike Lee wants to make a Jackie Robinson biopic, but the history of baseball and racial integration seems far too distant from the plot of this stats and metrics drama. Plus, if he had a choice, the Robinson biopic would most likely come first, and anything else baseball-related could derail it. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden directed the baseball drama “Sugar” earlier this year, but their viewpoint was probably far too sociopolitical for studios, and they certainly don’t want to repeat themselves.
Who else could step in? Here are some names to consider for the mound.
- George Clooney
Because baseball is in Clooney’s blood, many factors work in his favor. For starters, as a teenager, he was considered a prospect for Ohio’s major league team, the Cincinnati Reds. Baseball was a childhood ambition. He was set to star in “The Catcher Was a Spy” in 1999, playing real-life baseball player/international spy Morris “Moe” Berg, but that obviously never happened. His passion for baseball is so strong that Peter Guber, a Mandalay Entertainment chairman who owns the Dayton Dragons, an Ohio minor league team, offered him a contract to play in 2008. (though, yes, that might have been just a playful hometown shout out, Clooney spent much of his childhood in that state). Obviously, he’s friends with Brad Pitt.
- Peter Berg
He’s already turned one bestselling sports nonfiction book into a successful film in “Friday Night Lights.” Heck, he turned that into a truly fantastic TV show. There’d be some irony in Berg going from Buzz Bissinger’s book to Lewis’s as the former is quite outspoken in his disagreement with the latters worldview. And while “Hancock” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are some striking parallels between the titular character and Billy Beane. Both are pariahs not fully understood even by the closest to them, the public’s opinion of them based largely on their latest result. Plus it could save Berg the embarrassment of having to adapt a board game (“Battleship”) into a feature-length movie.
- Tony Gilroy
He’s only directed two films, but both had sizable budgets and major film stars. Several of “Michael Clayton’s” character traits fit Billy Beane. Both were high-ranking employees (not owners) whose job it was to make sure things got done, even if they didn’t always have as much of something (information, money) as they would have liked. And they both tried their hardest to game the system. Gilroy’s films typically focus on a behind-the-scenes look at a company, which naturally fits with this story. He’d probably want to rewrite the script, which, aside from costing a shitload more, wouldn’t be the worst thing.
- John Lee Hancock
If you can look past “The Alamo,” you’ll see a man who has already directed one true-story baseball film. And if you don’t get a little dusty while watching “The Rookie,” you might have a little robot on you. But, more importantly, he’s directing “The Blind Side,” a film starring Sandra Bullock, Kathy Bates, and Tim McGraw that will be released this fall. The film is based on Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book of the same name (don’t be fooled: while it raises some interesting points about football and, in particular, the left tackle position, it isn’t exactly the football version of “Moneyball”).
- Bryan Singer
Before the superhero movies (which, admittedly, have nothing to do with “Moneyball”), there was a film called “The Usual Suspects.” If Singer wants to get back to his roots, he could do worse than stop here. In some ways, “Moneyball” is about Billy Beane figuring out how to pull a fast one (or series of fast ones) on the rest of the league. Singer becomes an intriguing choice to create a stylish version of the events the more you see it as a long con or a caper. In addition, on a 2005 episode of the TV show “House” (Singer is the show’s executive producer) titled “Sports Medicine,” the “X-Men” director appeared as the person directing a baseball player character.
Let’s see what happens!