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Tuesday, July 22, 2003
i read moneyball, by michael lewis, and it's a great book. he's a good storyteller, and it helps to spread the gospel of baseball truth. it fights the perceived importance of stats like batting average and era, and tells those who didn't know already to read as much bill james as possible. it tells you who's smart and who's stupid in baseball, and how things really work on the inside. it's entertaining. it's well-researched. it's well-organized.
but it's a bad baseball book.
the problem is michael lewis doesn't know anything. worse, he doesn't know anything and he pretends like he knows everything. he talks up and down about how baseball commentators are idiots, then has long passages where he sounds like one. he rails against assigning meaning to things that cannot be measured, then goes on and on about mental aspects of the game. to him, scouts are the three stooges, and a guy with a computer is the savior. the reality is that both are helpful and important.
you see, he's got this whole hero-worship thing going. billy beane is the star of the show, the wunderkind, who waves his magic wand and wins baseball games. what he is is someone who has an understanding of the game and a talent for deal-making. the whole book is like that: larger-than-life. lewis even sensationalizes beane the asshole. i'm sure beane's an asshole, but he's probably just a regular asshole like everyone else.
so there's the good guys and the bad guys. the good guys do regression analysis; the bad guys sit around and spit tobacco. the good guys are here to save baseball from these morons who are trying to ruin it.
he sounds like he knows a lot about finance. i don't know about finance but i believe he does. so he takes these things he's learned about finance and applies them to baseball. great, that's going to add to what we know. people in finance will especially appreciate it. but don't act like you know everything, michael, because you don't.
billy beane 301 .035 .735 .303 .222/.250/.299 2.59
career, 1984--1989. he struck out too much. and didn't walk enough. and didn't hit the ball hard.
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