The Polar Opposites Of Genius/Idiot

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So now Theo Epstein’s no longer a genius?

Jack Zduriencik’s not a truly amazin’ exec?

Billy Beane—forever canonized in film and books of creative non-fiction—is finally receiving questioning looks and rightful dissection of his true history rather than what some agenda-driven writer is trying to convey (and adjust on the fly)?

What happened?

Genius is fleeting and a matter of opinion?

I thought it was either there or it wasn’t; now it’s based on a myriad of factors out of someone’s control? And who’s making the determination as to whom is a genius and who isn’t?

On the other side of the spectrum, Brian Cashman is receiving credit for basically having failed last winter in his attempts to get Cliff Lee and that he scraped the bottom of the barrel for the likes of Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Russell Martin; those moves happened to have worked.

Here’s news: it was luck; Brian Cashman will tell you it was luck.

Buck Showalter, whose mere presence with the Orioles, was going to craft a full 180 degree turn for that stagnant ship, has also lost his luster.

Know why? Because he doesn’t have any pitching and spent a good deal of the 2011 season using Kevin Gregg as his closer.

Who’s the next genius?

The next moron?

Is Kevin Towers a “genius” for tweaking what was already in place in Arizona with a few extra bullpen pieces?

Is Epstein now a fool because some of his name players haven’t performed?

Are we going to stop with the polar opposites of genius/idiot when it comes to analyzing baseball executives?

The word “genius” is thrown around so liberally and based on absolutely nothing other than factional debates and similar belief systems that it’s lost all meaning.

A genius is someone who creates a life-saving vaccine or builds something out of nothing, not the guy who signed Scott Hatteberg because he walked a lot and has taken endless advantage of a portrayal that is an absolute and utter farce; an image has been notoriously quick to use as an impenetrable shield to protect himself from the fact that his team is terrible.

And don’t you dare come back at me with the “oh, the A’s need a new ballpark and their options are limited”. The same people trying to use that tack were the ones who picked the A’s to win the AL West. You can’t have it both ways.

People are quizzical now as to Beane’s “genius”. It’s simplistic to ask, “well if Beane’s such a genius, why haven’t the A’s ever won a World Series?”

But maybe it’s not so simplistic in a world of genius/idiot.

Maybe if those who are benefiting from the appellation are going to advance because of it, they should decline because of it as well.

And perhaps those who are trying to pompously “explain” the concept of Moneyball as an “idea” rather than a strategy from which one must not deviate for fear of not being part of the herd are being exposed for what they are.

That contextualized version wasn’t the book I read. But you’ll find people who’ll call me a genius and an idiot.

And I don’t care either way.

There are no geniuses in baseball, but the public doesn’t want to hear that; they don’t want to hear about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby. And in the case of Beane and Moneyball, the baby was supposed to be a showpiece—gorgeous, intelligent and perfect.

The movie apparently says so.

But look at the A’s. Look at the desperation with which the myth is being protected and shifted to suit themselves.

By those metrics, it’s easier to have the separate and ironclad labels of either-or.

And under those parameters, where do the media darlings and targets wind up? Are they geniuses? Idiots? Or fantasies based on selfish ends?

You tell me.


I’ve decided: no review of the film Moneyball to be published here. It’ll be in my book, will be aboveboard and based on my own judgments. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

It’s sheer GENIUS!!!!!!!


2 thoughts on “The Polar Opposites Of Genius/Idiot

  1. I hope you watch the Bob Costas hour long interview of the Moneyball principals on MLB which was first broadcast yesterday afternoon. Bob somewhat disgraced his legacy by lobbing softball tosses to Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Billy Beane and Michael Lewis. The party line seems now to be: Moneyball exploited a short term inefficiency in valuations; now that the other teams have caught up, the market is efficient, and few if any arbitrage opportunities exist currently.
    A few observations on the principals. Costas kept it Costas-Lite, asking the obvious ‘tough questions’ like what about the Big Three pitchers’ contribution to the A’s success, why baseball men like Pat Gillick disagree with the premise of the book etc. He failed to ask follow-through q’s and missed asking about steroids, about Beane’s awful post steroid era decision making, about the insulting manner Beane dealt with managers, about the Keith Law/Lewis kerfuffle, etc…
    Pitt was as amiable and clueless as you would expect. Hill was pointlessly irreverent and relied on the same joke- telling crutch for his every lengthy response.
    Beane was actually classier than I expected, magnanimous almost. He also was less coherent than I expected, speaking in short hand phrases which often didn’t tie into the topic being discussed.
    Interestingly, the man who came across the worst, was Lewis who appeared defensive and squirelly. He seems shocked that after a career writing about serious, hot button topics like ibanking, interent revolution etc, his little book about baseball attracted the most controversy.
    Overall, I have almost reached saturation point with Moneyball. At first, I thought that the hubbub about the movie might bring up enough intelligent opinions to finally destroy the Beane myth and more importantly to critique the shoddy statistical analysis used by the sabermetric community.
    Alas, there has been nothing positive beside the Keith Law response and your continued good work. At this point, I am resigned to just having the whole idiocy end in three weeks when the movie is out of the theaters. Let’s hope it doesn’t get Oscar consideration.

    1. I don’t watch the MLB Network, but I’ll look for the show.
      We don’t want the movie to disappear in 3 weeks; we want people to see it; to look at the current state of the Athletics; to read the stories of blowback from those defending Art Howe and others who were savaged in the book; we want to see nitpicky infighting between Keith Law and Michael Lewis.
      If casual fans who may have read Moneyball and thought that it was a factual account—in spirit and in reality—watch the movie, see the A’s record, stop and say, “wait a second…” that’s only going to expedite more people coming out against it; more will be interested in the truth.
      And I’m gonna give it to ’em.

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