Philip Seymour Hoffman, looking more like a real baseball manager---and more like Art Howe, for that matter---than the real Art Howe, plays Howe with a self-satisfied smirk and a malicious glint in his eyes that, if it’s possible for an expression to be an act of libel, ought to have the real Art Howe suing Hoffman, Miller, and the movie’s producers.
In refusing to start the players the numbers have told Beane to acquire or play them the way the numbers say they should be played, Howe seems to be deliberately sabotaging the team’s chances to make the playoffs. Neither the script nor Hoffman’s performance tell us if this is what Howe’s up to or why he’d do that. We can’t tell if it’s a gambit in contract negotiations. Howe is looking for an extension of his contract. We can’t tell if it’s a matter of pride. Beane is Howe’s boss but there’s an understanding in baseball that general managers leave the handling of the players and the day to day managing of games to the manager and his coaches. We can’t tell if it’s that Howe just doesn’t agree with Beane and trusts his own judgment more than he trusts computer spreadsheets. We can’t tell if he’s just not smart enough to follow the plot. Hoffman plays him, cagily, as a guy who’s maybe too cagy for his own good.
---from my October 2011 review of Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s Field of Dreams.