Even if “Moneyball’’ proves to be a hit at the box office, as a mainstream entertainment concept it’s one that would seem to have had a couple of strikes against it from the start. First, it’s a movie about baseball - the national pastime, yes, but not a story subject that can count everyone as a fan. What’s more, it’s a movie about baseball’s front-office inner workings, one that hews fairly closely to the 2003 Michael Lewis business tome on which it’s based.
Specifically, the film examines the way that driven, cash-strapped Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) revolutionized the game a decade ago by drawing heavily on arcane statistical analysis to field a playoff team on a budget. (Insiders call this area of obsessive data crunching “sabermetrics,’’ after the Society for American Baseball Research.) Baseball guys debating trade strategy? Former Red Sox workaday catcher Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt, of TV’s “Parks and Recreation’’) as the film’s spotlighted big-league name? Statistics? Just as Beane’s success seemed so unlikely at a glance, so, too, might “Moneyball’’ seem like pretty unlikely material for studio tastes, at least not without significant Hollywoodizing.