A baseball team, of all things, was at the center of a story about possibilities and the limits of reason in human affairs. Baseball of all things was an example of how an unscientific culture responds, or fails to respond, to the scientific method – Michael Lewis
How could the poor Oakland Athletics be as competitive as the rich Yankees? That’s the main question Moneyball try to answer. Michael Lewis went inside the Oakland Athletics for the whole 2002 Major League Baseball season.
The Major League Baseball is a kingdom of inequalities. On one side you have the rich teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. On the other side you have teams like the Oakland Athletics. What was achieved with that team was near unbelievable. They had one great tool named “Billy Beane”.
He took control of the team with the idea of changing things. He hired Paul DePodesta, a Harvard graduate in economics, as his assistant. We can see here a break with the old tradition of hiring only people with “baseball” experience. Beane went down the road. He took all the old “false ideas” of baseball out of his team’s management.
The main idea was that opportunities can be created for the people who resist irrationality. Beane started to see the Athletics as a real business and he went for efficiency. He introduced sabermetrics (empirical analysis of baseball) inside his team.
This book isn’t just about baseball. It is a story of adapting or dying. Without Billy Beane turning the tides for the A’s who know what would have happened with the team (remember the Expos?). Imagine not having enough money to sign free agents or not being able to keep your own good players. Most people would have thrown the towel being in Beane’s shoes. Here are the words of Billy Beane:
No matter how successful you are, change is always good. There can never be a status quo. When you have no money you can’t afford long-term solutions, only short-term ones. You have to always be upgrading. Otherwise you’re fucked. – Billy Beane
This book showed me that innovation is always possible. It’s not because things were done in a certain way for the last 100 years, that nothing will ever move. It’s the perfect example of thinking outside the box.
It was one of my favorite non-fiction in a long time and among my favorite ever. It is as entertaining as it is useful. I’ve learned a bunch of things in that book that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Read it if you have any interest in sports, business or trading. The movie with Brad Pitt is good, but this go way deeper in the subject.
Fun Factor: 9/10