Diversionary Tactics

Books, Media, Spring Training
  • Stereotypes are not good:

In this posting from the still headless ESPN Sweet Spot, Bill says that “people” still don’t get Moneyball.

Apparently Bill is like Kramer, Ke$ha and Prince (the musician, not me—okay maybe me too) in that he has no need of a last name; all that need be said is “a new posting by Bill is up” and everyone will automatically know by name recognition that some quality insight is coming their way.

And so too is a misplaced and all-inclusive assertion that “people don’t get Moneyball”.

The mysterious and undefined “people” are again referenced.

Perhaps some specifics as to whom these “people” are would help.

Bill links this column by Monte Poole in the Mercury News to “prove” that the criticism of the book and Billy Beane was based on a misinterpretation of what the book was saying.

In a sense, in certain cases such as the Poole example, he’s right; but I’m still waiting for a coherent counter to my argument—that I’ve repeated ad nauseam—that Moneyball was not simply an account of how the Athletics won with a minimalist payroll and that they’d discovered “market inefficiencies” to find players who were cheap, available and useful.


Those that support Moneyball to the last and those that criticize it based on the opposite principles of what Beane was doing are both wrong.

Arguing wrongly does not make that which they are arguing against “right” as Bill is implying in his piece.

If one side says go right and the other says go left as a means of opposition, what happens if the correct road is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes?

It’s conveniently forgotten that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The simplistic nature of the customary debate regarding Moneyball is not clarifying the gist of the story.

The true flaws of Moneyball and why Beane engendered such vitriol for his role in the book have nothing to do with the failure to repeat the success he had in the early part of the decade coinciding with the book; it’s not the concept of exploiting market inefficiencies that has crafted the continued idol-worship and defense of Beane himself.

He still has his corporate speaking gigs and personality, but did he not expect to be a target when he was characterized as an arrogant, dismissive, condescending and obnoxious jerk who ridiculed and bullied anyone who dared disagree with him?

He’s not running from Moneyball insomuch as Moneyball is engulfing him; it was a bit of creative non-fiction designed to promulgate this myth of Beane as an invincible destroyer of conventional wisdom and old-school baseball dogma.

Who really cares about the exploitation of market inefficiencies at this point? The reason Beane is so reviled in many circles is because of that persona which he was only to happy to inhabit; it benefited him when the book came out and now it makes him look like a despicable, self-promoting and abusive entity who was always going to be lambasted when he failed.

The book was twisted for the purposes of Michael Lewis; it made Beane a household name and a lot of money. But others who were shredded in the book are, no doubt, taking a perverse pleasure in the character “Billy Beane’s” downfall. It’s not Beane himself as much as it’s the portrayal that’s created this inevitable end.

Beane has been rightfully cowed; because certain columnists don’t “get” Moneyball doesn’t mean that there aren’t those who do “get” it and savage it based on reality.

I will be retreating to my Scandinavian love cave to re-write my book on this subject in the future—then we’ll see what responses to the truth about Moneyball crop up.

I’ll emerge moderately deranged, but with an explosive and masterfully written manuscript.

  • Hank the Tank:

Am I the only one who pictures Hank Steinbrenner as the out-of-control Will Ferrell character in Old School, Frank the Tank?

In case you missed it, Hank went off on the 2010 Yankees, essentially accusing them of resting on their 2009 championship and coasting to their loss in the ALCS.

The allusion to “players building mansions” was clearly a shot at Derek Jeter since he’s the one building a mansion but I don’t see how any rational human being can believe a team that made it to game 6 of the ALCS and lost did so due to a lack of concentration.

Jeter had an off year, but unless he was whipping out blueprints in the middle of the clubhouse and saying things like, “And here’s where the breakfast nook will be”; “My NY shaped pool will be heated”; “Security will be on a presidential level to keep Michael Kay away”; and “The servant’s quarters will be as big as this clubhouse, peons! Bow to your captain!!”, then it was more ridiculous bloviating from Hank.

Tony Kornheiser expressed it perfectly on ESPN in a rant that suggested Hank is an unaccomplished rich kid who doesn’t have the experience nor right to say such things.

To me this is similar to a Lenny Dykstra logical fallacy that because family members worked at Dykstra’s car wash franchises and earned money from said work, then Dykstra “bought” their houses.

No, it doesn’t make any sense; I don’t know anyone, anywhere who’d like to have a statement equated with the punch drunk ramblings of Lenny Dykstra.

He backtracked yesterday saying that he wasn’t referring to Jeter and blamed it on poor choice of “euphemism”.

Yah!!! Right!!!

Hank’s entertaining and I hope they don’t muzzle him; he’s good copy!!