Tuesday, March 9, 2010


  • The zombies are after me again!!!!!

Some kind soul linked yesterday's posting onto Baseball Think Factory----which always prompts a nice series of explosions. I'm not even going to read the comments there because it generally degenerates in the following way:

The posting is linked.

People read it.

The comments begin attacking me with very, very few having the nerve to comment to me directly on my site(s) and being backhanded so severely when they do that they crawl back into their primordial, stat-laden muck.

Then they start attacking each other.

Anyone----anyone----wants to have a go at me, they do it on one of my sites. Period. They'll get far more than they bargained for. Believe me.

We'll do the mail because some did in fact come at me. Sort of.

  • Viewer Mail 3.9.2010:

Anonymous writes RE Moneyball:

As the legion of failures in the "stats only" school-of-thought rises, we're hearing the alterations:

"Moneyball wasn't about on base percentage and new age techniques; it was about undervalued assets."

What? That's not an "alteration". That's what the book was about, and it was clear in that regard.

OBP is no longer undervalued; teams use it as a matter of course now, and therefore it's no longer nearly as accessible to teams lacking funds.

Why you seem to think that OBP becoming a mainstream concept implies that Moneyball was a "lie" is genuinely beyond me; not only is OBP not what Moneyball was really about, but also to the degree that it was incidentally about OBP, it has obviously been proven as true.

Am I being trolled here or something? Seriously, this just comes off as inanity wrapped in a few hundred words.

Well "Anonymous", since you don't have the balls to identify yourself, I'll be as gentle as possible given your obvious delicacy.

Can you read? The mere fact that the legion of teamwide failures----the Athletics, Padres, Blue Jays and Dodgers----and the clubs that took to pure stat zombie tenets and abandoned them----the Red Sox and Cardinals----haven't convinced you that Michael Lewis's book is a farce, then you need only examine the way the "golden touch" of Billy Beane has turned out to be not-so-golden.

The book was designed----crafted and twisted----to portray Beane and his Ivy League educated brethren as "better" than the old-school method of trusting evaluation of talent in all ways; it was intended to create a new age in which those with either an expensive degree from a respected university were replacing those that took aspects other than pure numbers into account.

It never ends. The excuses come left and right as the goalposts are moved to maintain this invincibility and viability of the book. But it doesn't work. The simplistic argument of numbers above all does...not...work...with...human....beings.

Never once have I debated the value of players who get on base; but when club targets a player who has an on base percentage a shade higher than another player who might add something unquantifiable by a numerical formula, you see the end result with the way Paul DePodesta demolished the Dodgers within 20 months.

Moneyball was about Lewis sculpting his protagonist, Billy Beane into this perfect being----his shining light----who combined the talents of a first round draft pick from his playing days into a "genius" who understood and had the courage to implement the numbers to rule the world.

In many ways, Beane was perfect for the book's end. Well-spoken; handsome; someone who'd actually played the game and had the guts to try something different to take advantage of that which was unappreciated; and he implemented the use of numbers and won under a limited payroll.

But the idea was to promote the use of stats into an unassailable monolith. It was wrapped in a glossy, well-written and skillfully steered package to convince those that didn't know enough about the game to trust their own beliefs and were willing to be a inducted into the cult.

The point of my posting was the elucidate the way the "Beane as genius" and Lewis's narrative were absurd.

No. You're not being trolled here, but since you don't want to leave your name, I have to wonder exactly who you are. If you're so gutsy and intuitive why are you reluctant to identify yourself?

I have to give you credit for one thing, you were able to confine your inanity to a more concise number of words with double or even triple the amount of said inanity----that my friend, is finding value.

Anonymous writes RE Moneyball:

Dude: "Moneyball" has won. Get over it.

I can't argue with such an in-depth statement from a faceless, nameless person aside from saying the following: Won what?

Greg Andrew writes RE Moneyball:

You never actually read Moneyball, did you?

And while Beane's certainly made some mistakes, my guess is that he he'll be the Oakland GM as long as he wants to be. Given the fact that his family is older and more able to move, and the reality that the Oakland franchise has the worst long-term stadium situation of any team in the majors (with the possible exception of TB), Beane may finally choose to move on. I'm sure he'll have no shortage of offers from other clubs, though he'll also have opportunities outside of baseball if he wants to pursue them.

I'm still kind of astonished at how much success Moneyball has had in spreading its message. After decades of inch-by-inch progress, Moneyball moved mountains.

No. I didn't read it. You've figured it all out. My railing against the book and the movie...*

*Oh, speaking of which, they're going to start filming (Yah. Right!!!) this summer. How's that going to look as they film and the Athletics are ten games under .500 and in last place? It'll be somewhat similar to making an O.J. Simpson biopic and ending it in 1993.

...has nothing to do with disagreeing with book's premise or maybe understanding that building a winning club can't be based on stats, stats and more stats. Why look at what the Marlins and Twins do under similar payroll constraints and put the way the Moneyball teams have failed into context when it's easier to simply say such things as "you didn't read it", or "Moneyball has won"?

There are people who didn't read the book; didn't understand it; and saw their livelihood threatened by the use of numbers above old-school techniques. They're just as bad as those who would prefer to never see a game played or look at a player's movement or come to a subjective estimation of his abilities past his on paper numbers.

I am not one of those people.

The A's stadium issue was worse than that of the Marlins?


The Marlins who find ways to win every year----despite repeated denigration and caveats provided by those that have neither the desire nor the understanding to be able to replicate what they do----while functioning with half the payroll and a fraction of the appreciation that Lewis's love letter provided for Beane?

It's become a case of diminishing returns for Beane in Oakland and I think the remaining Athletics fans have had enough of simply saying, "well, Billy knows what he's doing" as they watch him trade his stars, fire his managers, still be accorded the respect befitting a genius----yet fail year-after-year.

If the playoffs are a crapshoot (oh, look a book reference; I must've read that page and that page alone) then why were Art Howe and Ken Macha to blame for the losses? Why, if Beane was so confident and assisted in moving mountains, did he need to tell his players to say negative things about Macha and utter the floating and non-specific reason for a dismissal, "it was a lack of communication"?

When does he get blamed? Moving mountains is great....until it lands on the person who was moving it and it crushes him.

That's what Moneyball did to Billy Beane. Like most demagogues, his results have never matched up to the hype and he's being rightfully questioned. He may want to move on because the Athletics and their fans have had enough.

Timothy Brown writes RE Moneyball:

Paul, don't have an issue with your thoughts on Beane and Moneyball, but he's an A's co-owner and the only reason I can see him going away is if he sells. If that happens, it will most likely be because of the A's inability to relocate to the South Bay.

And John Seal (West Coast Spiritual Adviser) writes RE Moneyball:

Prince, I think Billy has two more years to make it happen. The expectations for this season are pretty darn low out here in O-Town, but all eyes are on 2011. Even if it doesn't happen then I don't see him changing careers and becoming a soccer GM--remember, he's a part owner of the team. He's not going to go gently into that good night.

Besides, who would replace him? Jeremy Brown?

At last. Reasonable people.

My belief in the possibility of him leaving has to do with the aforementioned diminishing returns and that he's been there so long that he and the club might be better off moving on from one another. I don't know what else he can do there. He became famous; he made the club better than it was even if the book and the techniques therein weren't the reason for it; he has nothing more to prove there.

The reason he backed out on the Red Sox in 2002 was said to be because of family considerations; and I believe that----in part. But I also think that he would've been under more scrutiny and the passion of Red Sox Nation would've expected him to turn that team into a juggernaut the second he arrived; and if you look in the book (oh, another page I read; what luck!!!) he intended to:

Sign the shot Edgardo Alfonzo.

Make Manny Ramirez a permanent DH, precluding the signing of David Ortiz (who very likely would've been a Yankee because George Steinbrenner had told GM Brian Cashman to sign him).

Sign someone named Mark Johnson to take over at catcher; and trade Jason Varitek.

And Kevin Youkilis was heading to the Athletics as compensation for Beane being let out of his contract.

Oh, and DePodesta was taking over as A's GM.

That would've been two franchises trashed in one shot. Talk about moving mountains!!!

Beane was given less than 5% of the club----SFGate article; I checked the value of the Athletics franchise from a year ago (according to Forbes) and it was around $320 million. So, with Beane not having tossed any money into the ring to get the ownership stake, they'd be able to extricate themselves from one another in an amicable divorce complete with a Golden Parachute and presumably an agreement that he won't join a club from the division (though none want or need him anyway) for the duration of his contract.

If things really collapse this year, I think they'll split.

That wouldn't stop him from going to the Mets, which I'd bet is the job he'd want. (As a Mets fan, I say no thanks, but that's neither here nor there.) If I had to guess, I'd say he takes a year off and waits to see which jobs will open. Someone would hire him. He's still a competent GM; just not a "genius".

Presumably, David Forst would take over. You'd better hope it's Forst, John; and not DePodesta. Now that would be a nightmare.


Jeff said...

I just wanted to report that Anonymous and Anonymous have been eaten... by each other.

She-Fan said...

You must be enjoying this!!!!