Team Moneyball will be represented at the World Series, again.
Hollywood’s favorite team never won, but its alumni have. David Justice joined the Atlanta Braves to win a ring. Jermaine Dye won his with the Chicago White Sox. Barry Zito won by trading Team Moneyball for real money, leaving the Oakland Athletics to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
Tim Hudson gets his chance on Friday, starting Game 3 of the World Series for the Giants against the Kansas City Royals. No active pitcher has started more games than Hudson without starting in the World Series.
Hudson is 39. He missed much of last season because of an ankle injury. This is his seventh time in the playoffs, his first to extend beyond one round.
“When we won the pennant, I had emotions going through my body that I never knew could happen,” Hudson said. “I’ve never seen my wife cry so hard.”
The casual fan should know Hudson from “Moneyball,” the book and the subsequent movie that used the 2002 A’s as a springboard to the exploration of Billy Beane’s unorthodox success. However, “Moneyball” played up the different and the dramatic, and played down the contributions of the team’s three aces — Zito, Hudson, and Mark Mulder.
“Everybody is a good general manager when you have ... Hudson, Zito and Mulder,” former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen once told The Times. “It’s easy to be a GM like that. It’s not a ... secret.”
Hudson won 15 games that season, with a 2.98 earned-run average. The movie featured him in one scene, he said, in which he was getting whooped.
“I was backing up third a few times,” he said, laughing.
Hudson said he enjoyed the movie and did not take offense that such bit players as first baseman Scott Hatteberg and setup man Chad Bradford were featured more prominently than he was, or Mulder was, or Zito was.
“It was pretty cool to see a part of your life played out on the big screen,” Hudson said, “even though it was obviously Hollywooded up a little bit. There were a lot of things in there that were not necessarily quite true. But it was a lot of fun.
“Everybody always talks about our pitching. Nobody ever really talked too much about our pitching in the movie. But that’s not really what the book was about. The book was about having that different look, trying a different offensive philosophy. Because our pitching was so good at the time, they were afforded the chance to try something different.”
Mulder said he was troubled more by the portrayal of an uneasy clubhouse and a simple manager than by the virtual invisibility of the three aces.
“That’s not what the movie was about. It doesn’t bother me,” said Mulder, now an analyst for ESPN.
“I get it. It’s a movie, and I thought it was a really good movie. It obviously made Art Howe look awful, and I thought Art Howe was one of the nicest guys in baseball. And it made it look like we didn’t have a great atmosphere. It was really quite the opposite. We had such a great group of guys. It was one of the more enjoyable seasons I’ve ever had.”
The 2002 A’s had a 20-game winning streak. They won 103 games in all, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The A’s have made eight playoff appearances over the last 15 seasons. They never have won a game beyond the division series.
The Oakland playoff teams on which Hudson pitched won 91, 102, 103 and 96 games.
“All four of the teams we had, I thought, were really good,” he said. “We were all really, really young. At times I don’t know if we really knew how good we were.”
The Giants won the World Series with 92 victories in 2010 and 94 victories in 2012. They won 88 games this year.
“There is something about this time of year. They bring it,” Hudson said. “A lot of teams don’t understand how to come with it the way they do.”
Hudson memorably questioned the fortitude of the Washington Nationals, the team that led the National League in victories this season, before San Francisco eliminated them this fall. Then again, Hudson recalled his Atlanta Braves losing to the Giants in 2010.
“Even after they beat us, I felt like we should have beaten them,” Hudson said. “They kicked our tails.”
Hudson has started 457 games without starting a World Series game. That streak ends Friday. The new leader among active pitchers for most games started without starting a World Series game: Bartolo Colon, with 436.
Colon is 41, and he pitches for the New York Mets. The 2015 World Series? That would be some kind of movie.