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Art Howe Rips ‘Moneyball’ and Billy Beane; Listen to KNBR Appearance

| September 28, 2011
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Former A’s manager Art Howe has been on the offensive over his portrayal in the film Moneyball, based on the book of the same name.

If you’ve seen the film, you know that Howe, portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is depicted as intransigent about accepting the cutting-edge statistical theories of GM Billy Beane and his assistant. The name of that character was changed at the request of Beane’s real-life second, Paul DePodesta, during the 2002 season the film covers. But not so for Howe. The film also depicts the former manager as preoccupied with his contract, and suggests that Beane frequently went behind Howe’s back in coaching players during that 103-win year.

Howe went on KNBR yesterday to discuss the matter with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger. In the interview, Howe complains about several scenes in the movie that never happened in real-life. When Radnich makes the point that Moneyball is, after all, a movie, Howe says:

“I understand that, but they didn’t have to malign my character the way they did. The thing that really concerns me, Gary, is all the millions of people that will be watching that movie who really don’t know Art Howe, and this is the impression they’re going to have of me.”

“Where do you think that came from?” Radnich asks, “if you don’t know Michael Lewis, the author. It had to come from Billy, did it not?”

“That’s the way it kind of looks. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Later on, Howe says he would expect an apology from Beane if he ever ran into him, and that “he knows who I am and what I did for the organization for seven years…He knows there was a lot of injustice done here, and I would hope he’d be man enough to step up and call me and say, ‘Hey Art, I’m really sorry about this.’” Howe said he didn’t expect that to happen, however. He also said Beane once apologized to him in private for the way Beane treated him.

Listen here.

Beane fired back, briefly, yesterday, telling the Bay Area News Group, “I was wondering who was going to be the first guy to think I produced, wrote or directed this movie. Now I have my answer. (Howe’s) comments are completely misguided.”

More criticism from Howe…

From Big League Stew’s blog on Yahoo! Sports last Sunday:

Here’s Howe on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio:

“Considering the book wasn’t real favorable to me to start with I figured it would be something like this but to be honest with you it is very disappointing to know that you spent seven years in an organization and gave your heart and soul to it and helped them go to the postseason your last three years there and win over 100 games your last two seasons and this is the way evidently your boss [Beane] feels about you.

“They never called me to get my slant on things as far as the movie was concerned. So, I mean, it’s coming from someone. I don’t know who it is but maybe it is Hollywood to make it sell, I guess. I don’t know. It’s disappointing. I spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and I think I did that but this movie certainly doesn’t help it. And it is definitely unfair and untrue. If you ask any player that ever played for me they would say that they never saw this side of me, ever. ”

And what about his portrayal in the book?

“[Lewis] came in my office for about 10 minutes one day and that’s all the time he spent with me. And put yourself in my position. He’s asking me about my boss. Now, what can you say? [laughs] He ran some things by me and I verified some things and gave my slant to different things but they never got into the book, my slants.”

Here’s a long interview Howe did with a Houston Chronicle blog in which he takes issue with a number of things in the film:

Was the contract an issue? I know that was a big thing in the movie and almost how they introduced you in the movie.

A: That was fictitious. They didn’t do their homework as far as the movie was concerned because I was on a two-year contract through 2003. I had another year after that. My agent always took care of my contract; I never negotiated with Billy, especially not in the hallway of the clubhouse. Never happened.

Do you feel that this (movie and book) affects your name in baseball circles?

A: It certainly doesn’t help it the way I was portrayed. I think the book hurt me and now the movie. I want people who don’t know Art Howe – that’s the problem with the movie – I’ve spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and be a good baseball man and someone who people like to play for and all of the above. Then in two hours, people who don’t know me – and Brad Pitt’s a big name, people are going to see his movies – and all these people across the country are going to go in and get this perception of me that’s totally unfair and untruthful. So I’m very upset.

And quotes from an interview with the Chronicle yesterday:

  • “They couldn’t have demeaned me more. It’s disgusting. I’m hurt by it. My reputation is altered by it. People who don’t know me are going to think that’s the real Art Howe.”
  • “I wish they’d communicated with me,” Howe said of the filmmakers.
  • “I don’t know how you can get away with saying it’s a true movie. I like how in the movie, it’s Billy Beane who’s the one who tells Mike Magnante he’s being released, and he tells Magnante, ‘Thank you so much for everything, Mike.’ Give me a break. I’m the one who had to tell Magnante, and he was less than a week away from getting his full pension. I like Mike, I tried hard to get him those days, I told them to put him on the DL to get him the time; it wouldn’t have cost them anything.”
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  • kathy

    I totally feel for Art Howe. This portrayal will affect his legacy. Yes, its just a movie….but they use his name and suggest this was his character. I was at the premiere at the Paramount and I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the movie because this very thing was bothering me. I didn’t think this character reflected the Art Howe that I am familiar with as an A’s fan.