In adapting the nonfiction book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side), director Bennett Miller and screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin are telling the story of people who decided to throw away the romanticized notion of baseball in favor of something pragmatic, and it feels not at all coincidental that Moneyball itself takes a uniquely unromanticized approach to making a baseball movie. The story opens with the 2001 Major League Baseball playoffs, where the regular-season success of the Oakland A’s disintegrates into a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs, followed by a confrontation with harsh economic reality. Unable to afford their own highly desirable free agents who flee for the wealthier Yankees and Red Sox, A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) faces a seemingly impossible rebuilding task. But a young Yale economics whiz named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) has embraced a new way of looking at players — one that’s all about what the statistics tell you — that veteran scouts and baseball insiders are convinced ignores every “intangible” they’ve come to believe about the game. What follows could have been a standard-issue “underdog sports team” tale, and in some sense, that’s exactly what it is. As Beane and Brand butt heads with the entrenched notions of their brain-trust, including manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), there are scenes focused on putting the rag-tag team of castoffs together. There are initial struggles getting the new system working. And there’s that time-honored element of any underdog sports movie worth the name: the winning-streak montage. But Moneyball uses these components in ways that are at times completely original and at times just so well executed that they feel completely original. Even when Moneyball is working in rapid-fire inside-baseball patter, it feels less like a sports movie than like a smart workplace comedy/drama.