Oh, so now you tell me ...

Jason O. Watson

One of my least-favorite things about Moneyball: The Movie -- in fact, the only thing of real significance that I didn't like about the movie -- was Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of manager Art Howe, although it's not like Hoffman cast himself in the role. Or wrote the lines in the screenplay.

This little bit includes, or perhaps merely suggests, something I didn't know:

Interviewer Scott Raab: “Are you aware of Howe’s reaction to your portrayal of him in Moneyball?”

Hoffman: “Yeah. He’s not very happy. I kind of hope I get to meet Art Howe one day and tell him, ‘Listen, Art. I actively did not play you, okay? You should’ve taken your name off it.’

“This wasn’t enough of a part that it was gonna represent Art Howe at all. So I had to do a job. I was a tool. I had to play him a certain way to create a problem. But I knew there’s no way I could fill out who Art Howe was with what was written there. And so he has every right. He needs to know. ‘Art, I know that was not a fair representation of you as a person whatsoever.’ The story was about something else.”

That was first published in Esquire, and recently excerpted in a Toronto Sun piece in which Howe essentially volunteers to manage the Toronto Blue Jays.

It's not likely that anything will come of that. After the A's discarded Howe, he got a two-year shot with the Mets. The year before he managed the Mets, they won 75 games (under Bobby Valentine); the year after he left, they won 83 (under Willie Randolph). In between, under Howe, they won 66 and 71 games. Which sort of killed his chances of getting another managerial position.

Anyway, I bring this up only because Hoffman suggests that Howe could have simply refused the use of his name in the film. Which is what Paul DePodesta did, but Grady Fuson didn't. Now, I honestly have no idea how these things work. Maybe someone can educate me in the comments. What I thought is that DePodesta and Fuson might have the option to have their names removed, because they're not particularly public figures. But that Howe, because he did have a particularly public role -- Major League Baseball manager -- is just sort of stuck, like (for example) George W. Bush or any other U.S. President.

Then again, J.D. Salinger was able to keep the producers of Field of Dreams from using him as a character, which necessitated the invention of James Earl Jones' character. So I don't really know how these things work.

But if Howe could have blocked that ridiculous portrayal of himself and didn't, I feel less sorry for him than I did. Which leaves me feeling sorry only for anyone who watches the movie, and sees a caricature of a good baseball man, the one truly false note in an otherwise-excellent film.

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