The Brad Pitt Experience

By Ryan Leake
October 7, 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard by now that Santa Clara’s Baseball team went to a movie last Saturday.  If you haven’t heard, the movie was a follow up to the first team meeting where players were urged to open up and allow themselves to fall in love with Baseball.  As described in the previous entry, this wasn’t a command to instantly manipulate everyone’s feelings; it was more of an offer, an option set on the table to be nibbled and tasted before deciding to eat the whole meal.  It was the advocacy of an affair with Baseball.  Nothing big…just a teeny-weeny commitment that could progress into a lifelong relationship.  The first step in any good affair is to ask those in question out on a date.  So naturally Saturday became Santa Clara Baseball’s first date; and what better date movie than Moneyball to incite some fresh emotion?

With many thanks to Coach Campopiano for arranging a private screening, the team (and some select women who were invited in order to understand the greater good) enjoyed two full hours of Brad Pitt bossing people around, eating, and pretending to spit into a cup.  With some talk of “Oscar” buzzing about, my man-crush…I mean Brad…portrayed Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane, and had the SCU team applauding by movie’s end.

It was the third time in my life an audience applauded at the theater, and the only instance I actually agreed with (assuming they were clapping for Brad).  The first was when Tom Hanks watched the feather fly away in Forrest Gump (why celebrate such a sad ending?), the second was when Major League III: Back to the Minors finally ended.  In the case of Moneyball, I’m not sure whether they shared my sentiment (I know Campo and Coach O’Brien do) for Brad, or genuinely liked the movie, but the reason for applause was irrelevant to the larger theme of that moment.

The beauty and mysticism of that moment brought to mind a passage from another BP film (are you beginning to understand my longingfor Fight Clubhim?).  In Fight Club, BP (I’m tired of saying Brad) plays Tyler Durden, the intelligent, outspoken, and charismatic founder of an underground bare-knuckle boxing club.  Amidst all of its blood-curdling brutality and anarchist propaganda there are darkly comic flashes of clarity designed to convey the power of true freedom.  I know that sentence may not make a bit of sense so please allow me to elaborate.   At one point in the movie Tyler drags a convenience store clerk into a back alley and demands, at gun point, that the clerk quit his job and work to become the veterinarian he always wanted to be.  Once his exchange with the clerk is complete Tyler’s accomplice complains that his methods have become too sadistic, too twisted, that his message is lost in insanity.  Tyler replies: “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”  In essence, Raymond K. Hessel has been shown a door to a new way of life; to a new sense of being.  He has been set free.

If you’re still kind of shady on what Leake-the-lunatic is talking about, bear with me.  Everyone has experienced exactly what Tyler Durden was referring to in that scene.  Anyone who’s had a good night’s sleep.  Anyone who’s watched the sun-set over the Pacific.  A good hug.  Deep conversation.  The birth of child.  First kisses.  All are examples of experiences that can totally change one’s perspective of the world.  Is there anyone who hasn’t been on some kind of natural high and not come out feeling better?  Think about something you have, something you do, or something you experience and how your life reacts to those stimuli.  Don’t your Cheerios taste sweeter?  Isn’t it easier to do homework?  Aren’t you more excited for practice?  Don’t you simply want to engage with your existence?  If not, I dare you to try something new.  To try something you’ve always wanted to try; or never even thought of trying.  Could be skydiving, could be a crossword-puzzle….doesn’t really matter because new endeavors prompt new perspective.  They provoke innovation.  They encourage Baseball teams to applaud.

The hope of Santa Clara’s program is to inundate the players with good hugs and first kisses.  Part of being a “program on the rise” is allowing room for new-ness and thought outside-of-the-box, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, and circle.  It’s time for Santa Clara players to gain a whole new perspective and work toward an understanding of how unique and special their lives can be.  To appreciate the beauty each day may bring.  As they lost themselves in applause after watching Brad Pitt dominate the screen in Moneyball, they may not have realized the immensity of the moment.  But it was there…that feeling of change.  That sense of life pulsating through the theater.  At that moment it didn’t matter what they were doing, watching, or saying.  It didn’t matter if Moneyball was any good.  It didn’t even matter that Saturday morning had come and gone.  What mattered is that they were a team, on a date.  They were experiencing new-ness together; unknowingly falling in love with each other.

– Coach Leake


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