Hypothetical "Moneyball" sequel would offer pay parity

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 20:00

I want to be in movies. I was thinking about a sequel to the recent motion picture, “Moneyball.” I would call it “Moneycall.”

The premise in “Moneyball,” as set forth by Brad Pitt’s character Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, was that many players in the league were undervalued and that the scouts’ conventional methods for recruiting players were inefficient and archaic. Using complex formulas and arcane analyses of players provided by Yale whiz kid Peter Brand, played by actor Jonah Hill, Pitt puts together a winning Oakland team on a shoestring budget — a team that in 2001 nearly made it to the World Series.

At the close of the movie, postscripts note that the Boston Red Sox adopted the same team-building model and in 2004 went on to win the World Series after an 86-year drought, breaking what some have called the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Sports figures receive extraordinary salaries commensurate with what managers believe they will do for a particular team. Private industry pays workers according to the expertise, experience and value they bring to a company. I think this value principle should also apply to workers who in one way or another, serve the public. Such people include police men and women, firefighters, social workers, paramedics, nurses, teachers, street maintenance crews, librarians, news writers…even columnists!

In my opinion it is hard to argue with the value principle. Who provides the greatest benefit to society? In fact, if you subjected sports figures to that test, how could one justify $20 million per year salaries? The New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is and Miami Heat power forward LeBron James are really fun to watch and certainly help their respective teams win games. But do they benefit society to the tune of $20 million per year?

Using some of the same dizzying metrics and formulas wielded by the nerdy whiz kid in “Moneyball,” I’m sure that as a result of my movie, “Moneycall,” many workers in non-sport professions would garner appreciably higher salaries while garnering something even more intrinsically valuable: respect and appreciation.

In my movie I would probably cast myself in Brad Pitt’s role (with makeup and computer-generated imaging they can do anything), and then I’d search one of the local universities’ math departments for the right nerdy Jonah Hill whiz kid who could create the value formulas and equations. I might have to upgrade my Flip video camera and computer software to achieve motion picture quality. I’m quite confident I can produce “Moneycall;” for considerably less than “Moneyball’s” $50 million budget.

I missed out on the movie “Big Miracle,” even though back in October 1988, I helped deliver chain saws to Inupiat crews at Barrow who were trying to rescue the three gray whales; and documented much of the event by way of photos. Maybe this is my second chance!


Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer from Eagle River.

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