Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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Moneyball by Michael Lewis
I should admit up front that I'm not much of a baseball fan. I picked up Moneyball by Michael Lewis not because of the picture of the baseball on the front cover, but because of the question the author set out to answer: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland A's, win so many games? How did they do it? When everybody else from the commissioner on down seems to believe that it takes money, lots of money, to win games, how did the A's keep proving them wrong?
The answer is fascinating and multifaceted, but a big chunk of it revolves around a man named Billy Beane. Billy Beane was a player, a star, one of the boys the scouts loved since he was in high school, a guy who by everybody's account should have been a big player. He made it to the big leagues and produced exactly nothing, until he took himself out of the lineup and into the front office (an unhead of move). He set out on a personal mission to understand how to pick players, how to find undervalued players, how to trade his way to a top performing team with one of the lowest payrolls in professional sports. In a nutshell, he taught himself how to pick guys who were his exact opposite - who looked slow or fat or short but who got hits - who produced. As he reminded his scouts repeatedly, "We're not in the business of selling jeans." Billy Beane got excited about guys who had warts, and everybody knew they had warts, and the warts just didn't matter.
I enjoyed Moneyball on so many levels, for the insight it gave me into the game of baseball at the highest levels, for the insight into business and even human nature, and for the quality of storytelling. Moneyball got me thinking about averages and statistics in ways that apply to my own work and life. After all, if the naked eye is an inadequate tool to evaluate baseball players and games, it may be inadequate in other areas as well. For baseball fans and non-fans alike, I recommend Michael Lewis' latest bestseller, Moneyball. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I'm Amanda Dickson.