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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moviefone: ‘Moneyball’ Writer Michael Lewis Reviews Keith Law’s ‘Moneyball’ Pan

Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you selected?

“Billy [Beane] called me and said Keith Law had sent him his review. I looked at it and I thought, What’s he talking about?” Lewis told Moviefone earlier on Wednesday. “It’s very weird that he’s on this. He’s intellectually dishonest, and I don’t know to what purpose.”

In his review, Law comes down hard on what the film cites as “Bill James bullsh-t” (James was the father of sabermetrics, the statical engine that drove Beane during the time period depicted in ‘Moneyball’), but Lewis says that wasn’t always the case.

“I don’t understand why he goes from being—when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length—he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he’s casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school. I can’t see where this is all heading and why. But I learned from experience that the best thing to do is ignore it, because it goes away.”

Check back to Moviefone next week for more with author Michael Lewis about ‘Moneyball.’ The film hits theaters on Sept. 23.

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: September 14, 2011 at 10:43 PM | 282 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. McCoy Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:38 AM (#3925365)
Who knows what is going on but. . . .

Yes, how dare Keith learn and grow as a person while you, Michael Lewis, stay absolutely perfectly the same as you were when you wrote the book.
   2. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:42 AM (#3925366)
UPDATE: The back-and-forth continues! Responding via Twitter, Law writes "Except he didn't trash my review. He trashed me - the standard ad hominem when you can't address the arguments on the table."
   3. JRVJ Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:57 AM (#3925371)
I've never heard Michael Lewis talk, though I would not be surprised if he had a big ego and is convinced about the infallibility of his ideas.

I have heard a number of podcasts with Keith Law, who clearly has a big ego and is convinced about the infallibility of his ideas (*) (Karabell has gently needled him a couple of times about his comment - and I'm paraphrasing and summarizing a number of different shows - that even if the player had a good season, it still isn't good if his peripherals aren't there; his put down about the save record that Mariano is about to break was pretty weak, too, as he used the argument that it's no record that he would respect because Mariano is about to break it even though it was set last year - disregarding the fact that it at least 10 years will easily pass before any other closer is near the record that Mariano will now set).

(*) Still, he is entertaining and I've learned in life to not get too worked about these things.

This can't end well for anybody.
   4. NTNgod Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:03 AM (#3925374)
This can't end well for anybody.

Nah, you mean the participants.

For anyone else not emotionally involved, it's popcorn time!
(Who knows - this could turn out to be more entertaining than the movie proper)
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:08 AM (#3925376)
Nobody should ever have written anything.
   6. ray james Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:10 AM (#3925377)
If Lewis wants to survive as a serious writer, he has to stop overreacting and going public every time he perceives any criticism of himself. He's beginning to sound churlish, hypersensitive and petty.
   7. Dale Sams Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#3925379)
He trashed me - the standard ad hominem when you can't address the arguments on the table."


You don't argue with the stink trash makes, you just set it out on the curb.
   8. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3925381)
Yep, don't think I'll be commenting on this one.
   9. Mike Webber Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:16 AM (#3925382)
I've been around Michael Lewis twice. The second time he said to me, "Hi Mike. Remember we met in Lawrence?"

Didn't seem like he was too full of himself to me...
   10. shock Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:16 AM (#3925383)
, Law writes "Except he didn't trash my review. He trashed me - the standard ad hominem when you can't address the arguments on the table."


Well, sort of. It's a bit of a personal attack, perhaps too far, but the whole point is that you were trashing the movie for making scouts look dumb and Lewis is arguing that you yourself (Law) has called scouts stupid in the past. If that's the case, it doesn't really make sense to trash a movie for making scouts look stupid if they actually deserve such a portrayal. Lewis is pointing out your logical inconsistencies, which if true does belie your argument and addresses it by essentially defending the portrayal of scouts that you skewer in your review..
   11. Dudefella Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:18 AM (#3925386)
#6: Dude's had 14 books published, several of which have been bestsellers, and two of which have been made into movies. He might have a thin skin, but I think he's "surviving as a serious writer" just fine.
   12. Adam M Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:20 AM (#3925388)
If Lewis wants to survive as a serious writer


He has written a dozen books over the last 20 years, including a couple of best-sellers. I think he has already made it as a serious writer.

Coke to #11
   13. ray james Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:25 AM (#3925392)
I meant emotionally.
   14. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:30 AM (#3925395)
I've never heard Michael Lewis talk, though I would not be surprised if he had a big ego and is convinced about the infallibility of his ideas.

I have, many times, and haven't gotten the impression that either of these are true. He clearly believes in his work, but would you buy books by an author who doesn't?

If Lewis wants to survive as a serious writer, ...

Ha ha. I'm pretty sure this train has left the station.
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:30 AM (#3925396)
Keith Law should never have written that book.

But seriously, I haven't seen the movie, but Law's review of the movie is full of specifics. I never understood how the book would translate into a movie, and his review would seem to confirm my lack of confidence in it. I doubt that I will see it.
   16. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:31 AM (#3925398)
I like both Lewis as a writer and Law as a baseball guy quite a bit. Both seem pretty thin skinned (particularly Keith) but, whatever, it's their health.

****

I only mention this as its the first review I've seen of the movie from someone who does that sort of thing as their livelihood: Noel Murray of the AV Club gave Moneyball a 'B'.

There’s seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the message of the big screen adaptation of Michael Lewis’ non-fiction bestseller Moneyball—which argues that statistical modeling is a more fiscally sound method of assembling baseball teams than searching for “intangibles” and “guys who can play”—and the way the movie is put together. Though Michael Lewis’ book is full of colorful individuals, anchored by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (played here by Brad Pitt), it ultimately advances a theory that holds that individuals and moments matter less than numbers and aggregates. And yet here’s Moneyball: The Movie, giving us flashbacks to Beane’s disappointing pro baseball career, and inserting humanizing scenes of him hanging out with his pre-teen daughter. Even the way conversations are shot in this movie, with a lot of close-ups and over-the-shoulder, emphasizes people standing on their own, not sharing space with others. (In fact at a certain point I began to wonder if Pitt and Jonah Hill, who plays stat-freak assistant GM Peter Brand, were ever even on set together.) Granted, the fascination with Beane was present in Lewis’ book as well, and I do believe that director Bennett Miller—working from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin—always intended to raise some questions about whether the magic of the game can be reduced to a spreadsheet. But the movie is also structured in a way to give Beane’s A’s some measure of triumph, even though they flopped in the playoffs (which most old-school baseball folks would register as failure). All of that said, Moneyball is still highly entertaining, especially for ballfans. Miller uses a lot of real (or at least real-looking) people, and gets the businesslike atmosphere of modern sports in a way that doesn’t disregard the fun of it all. It’s also a treat to remember the MLB of the early ‘00s: the big and small names, the top teams, etc. I wish Pitt brought a little more swagger to his role, but when he and Hill are preaching the doctrine of OBP over “fundamentals,” Moneyball gives new meaning to the term “inside baseball.”


Carry on...
   17. Lassus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:36 AM (#3925403)
With it being Gleeman and the AV Club vs. Law, it's the former in a landslide; I'll probably see this on opening day.
   18. JRVJ Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:38 AM (#3925406)
14, I am a huge Michael Lewis fan, BTW, having bought and read Liar's Poker, Pacific Rift, The New New Thing, Next, Moneyball, The Big Short, his wonderful Portfolio story about the end of Wall Street's Boom (which sort of included a coda to Liar's Poker) and a bunch of his Vanity Fair pieces (including his Iceland, Greece, Ireland and Germany pieces).
   19. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:44 AM (#3925410)
14, I am a huge Michael Lewis fan, ...

My question in #14 was more of a rhetorical for the crowd than a rejoinder to you. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.
   20. shock Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:46 AM (#3925411)
All of that said, Moneyball is still highly entertaining, especially for ballfans


Tracy Ringolsby liked it? Wouldn't have guessed.

This kind of sounds like the type of movie that the GP will like but the hardcore baseball fan is going to be annoyed with because of the inaccuracies and so forth. I am and have been looking forward to seeing it, and will go on opening weekend, but I am anal enough that "Peter Brand" in place of PDP is probably going to annoy me, especially if it's the overdone stereotypical mothers-basement character that it sounds like it is..
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:47 AM (#3925414)
Law rubs elbows with scouts now and depends on them as sources, so maybe his review is more about gaining some cred with them than reviewing a movie.
   22. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:48 AM (#3925415)
Jonah Hill, who plays stat-freak assistant GM Peter Brand


Hill isn't playing DePodesta? I missed that.
   23. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:48 AM (#3925417)
Nice ballfans line.

Barring a surprise, I'll pass on this one - baseball movies rarely work for me.
   24. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:49 AM (#3925418)
now, an actual review of the review would have been clever and interesting. This is just boring internet sniping.
   25. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:50 AM (#3925422)
Hill isn't playing DePodesta? I missed that.

He is. Depo didn't want his named used.
   26. shock Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:51 AM (#3925424)

Law rubs elbows with scouts now and depends on them as sources, so maybe his review is more about gaining some cred with them than reviewing a movie.


This is the impression I got as well.
   27. The Artist Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:56 AM (#3925431)
Big fan of Klaw and Michael Lewis (heck anyone who has ever worked in finance should be - Liar's Poker should be required reading, along with When Genius Failed), but it seems as if KLaw has evolved his views on scouts and Lewis... hasn't / doesn't care.
   28. Repoz Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:58 AM (#3925433)
Nice ballfans line.

yup.
   29. ray james Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:03 AM (#3925440)
but it seems as if KLaw has evolved his views on scouts and Lewis... hasn't / doesn't care.


Oh, he cares. If he didn't, he wouldn't be so vociferously rebutting Law publicly. He doesn't want to see the beautiful premise of his book unraveled.

Shaughnessy had the same problem with Curse of the Bambino after 2004. He kept banging the same drum, even after that drum rung hollow.
   30. lonestarball Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:09 AM (#3925444)
Here's the problem I have with the Moviefone piece...they say:

In his review, Law comes down hard on what the film cites as “Bill James bullsh-t” (James was the father of sabermetrics, the statical engine that drove Beane during the time period depicted in ‘Moneyball’), but Lewis says that wasn’t always the case.


Except Law doesn't. He says:

I’ll confess to laughing at the scout referring to “this Bill James bullshit,” although the A’s bought into that bullshit years before the film claims they did - and, in fact, hired Paul Depodesta three years before the movie-A’s hired Brand.


Law doesn't, in his review, condemn the "Bill James bullspit"...his critiques on the baseball side are mostly about the movie portraying real people as "dim-witted bowling pins," much as the book did.

Many in the stathead community have embraced the "beer and tacos" philosophy, the idea that both statistical analysis and traditional scouting have their place. Lewis, in his book, seemed (to me) to make this a much more binary, one or the other battle, and it appears Law's criticisms of the movie are along those same lines.
   31. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:09 AM (#3925445)
Check back to Moviefone next week for more with author Michael Lewis about ‘Moneyball.’ The film hits theaters on Sept. 23.


"Why don't you just tell me the movie you want to see!"

I wasn't a huge Seinfeld fan, but that gag still makes me laugh out loud.
   32. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:12 AM (#3925448)
but it seems as if KLaw has evolved his views on scouts ...

It's been interesting how Keith's baseball career has evolved. As I understand it, he was known 100 percent for statistical acumen when he joined the Blue Jays,* but then he joined ESPN a few years later with a persona that leans a lot more toward scouting. Road to Damascus or basic real-world practicality — i.e., simply doing what the (apparently very good) ESPN gig requires?

(* I could be wrong about this, but that's how it's usually described, with Law meeting Ricciardi at the winter meetings, etc.)
   33. NTNgod Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:20 AM (#3925452)
Many in the stathead community have embraced the "beer and tacos" philosophy, the idea that both statistical analysis and traditional scouting have their place. Lewis, in his book, seemed (to me) to make this a much more binary, one or the other battle, and it appears Law's criticisms of the movie are along those same lines.

In fairness to Lewis' original book, "beer and tacos" was the exception in the 2002/2003 timeframe when MONEYBALL was written and then released. Around here, things certainly often seemed more... militant ... back then.
   34. shock Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:31 AM (#3925456)
Many in the stathead community have embraced the "beer and tacos" philosophy, the idea that both statistical analysis and traditional scouting have their place. Lewis, in his book, seemed (to me) to make this a much more binary, one or the other battle, and it appears Law's criticisms of the movie are along those same lines.


I don't really agree.

One of the parts of the books that sticks out in my mind is a part where PDP asks a scout to check out some player for him. The scout refuses and derides him for being a geek. Then, later on the scout ends up signing the player (without scouting him first,) in order to throw a bone to PDP and placate Billy Beane. It turns out that the player has a deformity or something and can't succeed in the big leagues. The point of it was that PDP never asked the scout to sign him, only to have a look. With real scouting, the problems with the player would have been easily observed and no signing would have taken place.

Or something. I probably ###### all that up; I haven't read Moneyball in 5 years. I'm sure a few people know which part I'm talking about though.
   35. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:39 AM (#3925464)
Agree with NTNgod - if Moneyball seems dated, it's because it accurately reflected the attitude of the times. Both sides are more enlightened these days....but to what degree is up for debate.
   36. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:42 AM (#3925465)
In fairness to Lewis' original book, "beer and tacos" was the exception in the 2002/2003 timeframe when MONEYBALL was written and then released. Around here, things certainly often seemed more... militant ... back then.

Not to inject myself into the discussion, but this is correct. I wrote the "beer and tacos" piece in August of '03, well after Moneyball had been released and digested. Looking back on it, I could probably use a dose of "doctor, heal thyself" when it comes to tone and diplomacy.
   37. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:44 AM (#3925467)
If Lewis wants to survive as a serious writer,


If Halladay ever wants to have a career as a major league pitcher...
   38. themendozaline Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:48 AM (#3925470)
What the f*** has Keith Law ever done to get to the level he is currently. I know that he worked for Blue Jays in their scouting department but what the f*** has he ever accomplished in baseball. He didn't play college or professional he probably never even played little league. Wiki has him graduating from Harvard with a degree in economics and sociology and has a MBA in business. Don't get wrong this is pretty impressive in its self but again what the f*** has he ever done in baseball.

These f****** numbers crunchers have destroyed baseball. I wonder if this idiot advised Riccardi to sign both Vernon Wells and Alex Rios to those huge contracts that ultimately cost Riccardi his job. I guess the numbers did not add up.
   39. DA Baracus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:52 AM (#3925477)
I don't really agree.


I agree with your disagreement.

The whole "put a Milo on him" part was Beane, DePo and a bunch of scouts, and it was the scouts giving the information. This feels like a variation of the stupid "stats vs scout" debate that never really existed. Scouts were a valuable part of the A's organization, they just used them differently than other teams did when Lewis was shadowing them. Lewis may have been trying to down play their contributions, but he couldn't avoid them. Heck the Jeremy Brown chapter featured a scout.
   40. Bob Tufts Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:57 AM (#3925479)
Hey, some of us got an Ivy League education (undergrad and MBA) and obviously didn't let it go to our heads!

I guess it is a Harvard thing.

PS - OK, there was Bowie Kuhn......
   41. lonestarball Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:58 AM (#3925480)
Agree with NTNgod - if Moneyball seems dated, it's because it accurately reflected the attitude of the times.


I agree that there was more polarization at the time -- however, even in that setting, Moneyball (the book) came across as something as a caricature.
   42. Good cripple hitter Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:00 AM (#3925481)
38. living legend Posted:

These f****** numbers crunchers have destroyed baseball. I wonder if this idiot advised Riccardi to sign both Vernon Wells and Alex Rios to those huge contracts that ultimately cost Riccardi his job. I guess the numbers did not add up.


First we have Tracy Ringolsby posting anonymously, now Richard Griffin. Welcome, Richard!
   43. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:23 AM (#3925495)
I agree that there was more polarization at the time -- however, even in that setting, Moneyball (the book) came across as something as a caricature.
I know that that was my take back then, others MMV.
   44. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:23 AM (#3925496)
I agree that there was more polarization at the time -- however, even in that setting, Moneyball (the book) came across as something as a caricature.

Perhaps it was, but Lewis was on the side of the stat geeks so yeah, the scouts were not going to be photographed in the best of lights, especially when there was so much resistance/resentment from that side and the hero of the book was the King of the Stat Dorks. So I would still say it was an accurate reflection of the attitude, albeit heavily biased.

I would like to have read an anti-Moneyball but I'm not sure if there was one. I remember a book on the Braves scouting but all of the reviews I read trashed it. Was that a reflection of the anti-scouts dichotomy of the times or was it really just a bad book?
   45. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#3925497)
It sounds like some are reading Lewis's comments as anger, but they sound like he's baffled to me.


Yes, how dare Keith learn and grow as a person while you, Michael Lewis, stay absolutely perfectly the same as you were when you wrote the book.


That seems unfair to Lewis. Law trashed the movie and the book for:

For starters, the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets. It’s cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted.


If he previously held that same opinion, shouldn't he acknowledge that and admit how wrong he was too, especially if he was a source for the book in question? Isn't it sort of unfair to tell Michael Lewis, "Yeah these scouts are a bunch of dummies," let him publish the book, then kill him for saying that scouts are a bunch of dummies? Whatever it is, it's not "growing as a person."

As to Law's contention that Lewis's arguments are ad hominems, he may have a point. But again, what Lewis is saying is pretty darn relevant to the discussion at hand.
   46. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:38 AM (#3925500)
And I have to say, I really think Voros should chime in. It's not fair to chime in just to say you're not chiming in. So chime in!
   47. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:56 AM (#3925505)
As to Law's contention that Lewis's arguments are ad hominems, he may have a point.

This didn't make sense to me (as claimed by Keith). It seemed clear to me that Lewis was replying not to Law's review but to the hypocrisy Lewis seems to believe Law displayed in said review. Otherwise, all Lewis did was write the book; he didn't write the screenplay or direct the movie, at least not according to the credits. It doesn't seem fair to expect Lewis to defend the details of a movie he didn't make. (As I understand it, authors usually have the longest list of complaints with their adapted works.)
   48. villageidiom Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:41 AM (#3925515)
Law doesn't, in his review, condemn the "Bill James bullspit"...his critiques on the baseball side are mostly about the movie portraying real people as "dim-witted bowling pins," much as the book did.
You're misreading Lewis. He is taking Law to task for having ripped the scouts back in the day when Lewis was researching the book, but pulling a holier-than-thou routine by ripping the movie - set in that time - for doing the same thing Law did back then.
This feels like a variation of the stupid "stats vs scout" debate that never really existed.
You know what would be really cool? They should have a roundtable discussion of stats vs. scouts.
   49. NJ in DC (Now unemployed!) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:47 AM (#3925517)
You know what would be really cool? They should have a roundtable discussion of stats vs. scouts.

Is that even legal?
   50. themendozaline Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:50 AM (#3925520)
Who the f*** is Richard Griffin?
   51. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:57 AM (#3925523)
You're misreading Lewis. He is taking Law to task for having ripped the scouts back in the day when Lewis was researching the book, but pulling a holier-than-thou routine by ripping the movie - set in that time - for doing the same thing Law did back then.


More precisely, Law also ripped on the book in his review. Now Law can counter Lewis and say he misrepresented Law's opinion back when the book was written, but arguing that Lewis went ad hominem is weak.
   52. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:15 AM (#3925541)
(In fact at a certain point I began to wonder if Pitt and Jonah Hill, who plays stat-freak assistant GM Peter Brand, were ever even on set together.)

This was my beef with Pacino and DeNiro in "Heat" - all the hyping up of them FINALLY in a movie together, and you basically never see them interacting.
   53. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:26 AM (#3925545)
"If Lewis wants to survive as a serious writer,"

If Federer wants to survive as a serious athlete...
   54. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:17 AM (#3925548)
It's been interesting how Keith's baseball career has evolved. As I understand it, he was known 100 percent for statistical acumen when he joined the Blue Jays,* but then he joined ESPN a few years later with a persona that leans a lot more toward scouting. Road to Damascus or basic real-world practicality — i.e., simply doing what the (apparently very good) ESPN gig requires?

Keith didn't "assume" a scouting identity - he really put a lot of effort into learning the craft with Tony LaCava, if I recall.

Looking back on it, I could probably use a dose of "doctor, heal thyself" when it comes to tone and diplomacy.

I don't think it's surprising that most of us that were in the "first generation" of internet statheads have mellowed a bit. We're all older
and wiser, after all.

But also, we won. Even if not everybody is into stats, we don't have that same day-to-day fight for acceptance that we had 10-15 years ago.
   55. Greg K Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:36 AM (#3925550)
What the f*** has Keith Law ever done to get to the level he is currently. I know that he worked for Blue Jays in their scouting department but what the f*** has he ever accomplished in baseball.

He correctly realized that drafting Ricky Romero was a stupid, stupid idea.
Jays dodged a bullet avoiding that choice.
   56. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:40 AM (#3925551)
Keith didn't "assume" a scouting identity - he really put a lot of effort into learning the craft with Tony LaCava, if I recall.

I wasn't implying that Law was some sort of fraud. My point is that it was kind of remarkable for him to have used stats to get into MLB, only to pop up on the other end of his MLB employment just 3-4 years later with a perspective that's about 180 degrees (or maybe 140 degrees) opposite of the one that got him in the door.

Put another way, if we rewind the BBTF clock to 2005, I feel confident saying that no one here would have ever predicted that when the Moneyball movie came out six years hence, Keith Law would be the one raising the most hell about it. (And I can't see any way this controversy caught Law by surprise; clearly, his review Tuesday night was written to be noticed.)
   57. Greg K Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:46 AM (#3925558)
Who the f*** is Richard Griffin?

Toronto sportswrtier who hates JP Ricciardi and thinks stats are ruining baseball.

Though I believe he lobbied hard for the Wells extension and doesn't curse like a sailor, so I think you're safe. (Either that or cleverly masking your true identity.)

EDIT: Also Wells and Rios both signed their extensions after Law had left. The Wells one I think was more mandated by ownership as a "show the fans we're serious about keeping our players" and the Rios one seemed fairly reasonable at the time. Rios never struck me as a particularly "numbers-cruncher" kind of guy either. There was always an element of evaluating his tools as much as his numbers.
   58. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 10:09 AM (#3925562)
And I have to say, I really think Voros should chime in. It's not fair to chime in just to say you're not chiming in. So chime in!

What should I say? Both of the particulars have criticized me for things that I've said in the past, so I'd rather keep a low profile and stay out of this. I have enormous respect for the abilities of each of them and both have treated me quite kindly in my interactions with them, so my only suggestion would be for both of them to agree to disagree and move on. There's really no need for this sort of thing. Personalizing philosophical differences rarely leads somewhere good.

Of course I have a bit of a hippy streak in me so maybe I'm too unconfrontational.
   59. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM (#3925569)
If Shooty wants to survive as a serious masturbater...

It always amuses me when the anti-stathead crazies show up here. How do they end up at BBTF if they hate statheads?
   60. formerly dp Posted: September 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM (#3925570)
but I am anal enough that "Peter Brand" in place of PDP is probably going to annoy me

More or less than the Larry Londs who was always left field for the Giants in video games during the '00s?
   61. Dudefella Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM (#3925585)
#59:
How do they end up at BBTF if they hate statheads?


Politics and Pavement.
   62. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3925601)
More or less than the Larry Londs who was always left field for the Giants in video games during the '00s?

I'm sorry you can't remember the contribution that Jon Dowd made to the Giants in 2005.
   63. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:09 PM (#3925604)
He is. Depo didn't want his named used.

What are the rules on this sort of thing? Do you actually have to get someone's permission if it's a biopic? Do you have to get permission for every person that is in the movie?
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:17 PM (#3925611)
More or less than the Larry Londs who was always left field for the Giants in video games during the '00s?

I still remember "Non-NFLPA" (Eric Dickerson) playing RB for the Rams on the old, old Madden.
   65. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:20 PM (#3925613)
I would like to have read an anti-Moneyball but I'm not sure if there was one. I remember a book on the Braves scouting but all of the reviews I read trashed it. Was that a reflection of the anti-scouts dichotomy of the times or was it really just a bad book?


"Scouts Honor" was pretty bad compared with "Moneyball." The issue was that you had a great writer and evidently a bad writer dealing with subject matter. Regardless of what you thought of "Moneyball" the thing that Lewis did very well is pick representative stories to tell that highlighted the A's doing something different (Bradford, Hatteberg, Jeremy Brown etc...). You may not agree with the approach but it's clear what the A's are doing differently through these stories.

On the flip side "Scouts Honor" picked poor examples. It's been awhile since I read it but they spent a lot of time on Francoeur who was a general consensus first rounder but went to the Braves because he was going to go to college if someone else took him (or so the story went). The Braves weren't doing something "innovative" in drafting Francoeur, just taking the best player available that many other teams were interested in (so said the book).

The other thing is that an "anti-Moneyball" comes down to what you think "Moneyball" is. I have always read it as a fairly basic "find undervalued assets" business book which is pretty unassailable. I'm not sure how someone could refute that philosophy.
   66. Matthew E Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:43 PM (#3925633)
I think we should try to get Aaron Sorkin to write a review of Lewis's review of Law's review of Sorkin's movie of Lewis's book. Then maybe Law can write a review of Sorkin's review. Come on, guys, let's keep this going!
   67. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3925639)
He doesn't want to see the beautiful premise of his book unraveled.

Uh, yeah, too late for that I'm afraid. The premise of his book has completely unraveled and is now one long string lying on the floor.
   68. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:51 PM (#3925640)
I think we should try to get Aaron Sorkin to write a review of Lewis's review of Law's review of Sorkin's movie of Lewis's book. Then maybe Law can write a review of Sorkin's review. Come on, guys, let's keep this going!


And then Abed on "Community" can narrate yet another brilliant episode using all of this as source material!
   69. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 01:55 PM (#3925648)
What should I say? Both of the particulars have criticized me for things that I've said in the past, so I'd rather keep a low profile and stay out of this. I have enormous respect for the abilities of each of them and both have treated me quite kindly in my interactions with them, so my only suggestion would be for both of them to agree to disagree and move on. There's really no need for this sort of thing. Personalizing philosophical differences rarely leads somewhere good.


If you want to survive as an Internet gadfly, you have to start overreacting and going public every time you perceive any criticism of yourself. You're beginning not to sound churlish, hypersensitive, and petty.
   70. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#3925655)
Of course I have a bit of a hippy streak in me so maybe I'm too unconfrontational.

And we all know there's one subject on which all statheads and scouts agree: dirty, filthy hippies.
   71. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#3925656)
Uh, yeah, too late for that I'm afraid. The premise of his book has completely unraveled and is now one long string lying on the floor.

Except for the general adoption of Beane's methods by many successful front offices, sure.
   72. BobT Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3925664)
What are the rules on this sort of thing? Do you actually have to get someone's permission if it's a biopic? Do you have to get permission for every person that is in the movie?


It's something of a gray area. People in the U.S. have a "right of publicity" and that protects you and (your heirs) to some protection, although it varies by state. Usually, filmmakers will not push the case with someone because lawsuits suck.
   73. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:19 PM (#3925668)
Except for the general adoption of Beane's methods by many successful front offices, sure.

I know that this is the new talking point du jour in the wake of Beane's failures, but I have yet to see anyone offer any concrete evidence to back the notion up.

After the Giants won the World Series last year, Sabean went out of his way to mock Moneyball and Beane by extension.
   74. OsunaSakata Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:38 PM (#3925685)
It's something of a gray area. People in the U.S. have a "right of publicity" and that protects you and (your heirs) to some protection, although it varies by state. Usually, filmmakers will not push the case with someone because lawsuits suck.


I noticed the disclaimer at the end of Moneyball said something about characterizations of individuals may have been done for dramatic purposes and not to disparage them.
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:42 PM (#3925693)
I know that this is the new talking point du jour in the wake of Beane's failures, but I have yet to see anyone offer any concrete evidence to back the notion up.

I really don't see how you can view Beane as having failed given the long run of success on a shoestring budget.

Was he the revolutionary figure some painted him to be, no. But, he has had a damn good run.
   76. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3925700)
After the Giants won the World Series last year, Sabean went out of his way to mock Moneyball and Beane by extension.


Which would have been great if so many of the key Giants wouldn't have fit perfectly in with those 2000-2003 A's teams;

- the too small pitcher with a funky motion that some teams feared (Lincecum)
- the "we're not selling jeans here" third baseman (Sandoval)
- the "buy low" first baseman who just keeps on putting up good numbers (Huff)
- the veteran minor leaguer who keeps putting up good numbers without getting a chance (Torres)
- the cast off slugger with a good track record (Burrell)
   77. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3925704)
I know that this is the new talking point du jour in the wake of Beane's failures, but I have yet to see anyone offer any concrete evidence to back the notion up.

The vast majority of (and perhaps all) teams employ a statistical analyst who has at least a modest influence upon decision-making. While the roots of this can be traced back to Rickey and Allan Roth, the widespread acceptance of "numbers guy as key member of front office" is a post-Beane/Alderson phenomenon. I did this for the Padres for a few years, and Kevin Towers told me he decided to take that step mostly because of what was going on in Oakland. He's not the only one. No doubt, some franchises still skew old-school, but Boston, Tampa, Cleveland, Texas, Blue Jays, Mets, a strong faction of the Cardinals, a strong faction of the Yankees, Diamondbacks, A's (obviously), Padres, Pirates, and others are all organizations that make a prominent place at the table for the quantitative approach. Some of the shine has come off Beane in recent years, no question, but he's been quite influential, regardless of recent struggles. One doesn't have to be the best to leave a lasting influence.

After the Giants won the World Series last year, Sabean went out of his way to mock Moneyball and Beane by extension.

And?
   78. Spahn Insane Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:54 PM (#3925713)
And?

And therefore, the suggestion that other teams have adopted elements of Beane's approach is clearly wrong. Duh.

I really don't see how you can view Beane as having failed given the long run of success on a shoestring budget.

He has an irrational axe to grind with Beane and anyone who admires him. No more, no less.
   79. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:54 PM (#3925714)
76 is nothing but the typical ex post facto rationalizing I see here so often after a team (always not Oakland) wins a championship.

Sorry, but I've been around here more than long enough to know how much Sabean was getting ripped by the know-it-alls on many of his moves at the time when they were being made. Now, suddenly he's a Beane disciple because he won.

The Giants had the 10th largest team payroll in 2010 and moved up to the 8th largest team payroll in 2011. They're a big-spending franchise. There's nothing "Moneyball" about them whatsoever; the claim is a bunch of pure rubbish.
   80. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#3925718)
Am I the only one here that doesn't really like Community? I usually find the actors on the show to be a lot better than their material - I generally find the writing rather obvious and ham-handed, but one person's humor is another person's however that phrase goes.
   81. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#3925719)
The Giants had the 10th largest team payroll in 2010 and moved up to the 8th largest team payroll in 2011. They're a big-spending franchise. There's nothing "Moneyball" about them whatsoever; the claim is a bunch of pure rubbish.

Yet, most of their big money guys (Rowand, Zito, etc.) contributed almost nothing to winning that championship.
   82. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3925724)
I don't like Community or It's Always Sunny... Ham-handed is a good word for how I feel about each.
   83. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3925725)
What are the rules on this sort of thing? Do you actually have to get someone's permission if it's a biopic? Do you have to get permission for every person that is in the movie?

It's something of a gray area. People in the U.S. have a "right of publicity" and that protects you and (your heirs) to some protection, although it varies by state. Usually, filmmakers will not push the case with someone because lawsuits suck.


Right. I think "Peter Brand" is also a bit more of a composite character, or at least that he is not an accurate portrayal of DePodesta. In the end, DePo's objection was probably just that he was being portrayed by Jonah Hill.
   84. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:02 PM (#3925729)
Am I the only one here that doesn't really like Community? I usually find the actors on the show to be a lot better than their material - I generally find the writing rather obvious and ham-handed, but one person's humor is another person's however that phrase goes


No. I don't know what it is but when I watch the show I always feel like I'm missing something, like I should be laughing hysterically but I'm missing the joke somehow. I feel that way with The Office too, I just have never been able to get into it. I won't say I dislike either show, but neither show has left me eager to see the next episode.
   85. billyshears Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3925737)
I like Keith a lot as a writer. I think he does a better job than anybody else out there integrating scouting and statistical perspectives. I also think he plays it straight - I don't think he necessarily leans more towards scouts or stats. I think when evaluating a player, he relies more on the particular information he finds most compelling (which typically is statistical information for major leaguers and scouting information for minor leaguers). But he doesn't respond well to criticism. Part of that is his persona, which has built him quite an audience. But I think part of it is a function of the fact that, as a sports writer (especially a sports writer at ESPN), he spends a lot of time responding to idiots and haters, so eventually the default assumption becomes that any criticism is from an idiot or a hater. I have no issue with his review. But he does seem awfully defensive in responding to those who have criticized his review, which seems out of place considering the review is a piece of criticism itself.

On another note, in some respects, I think the sabremetric community has integrated the scouting perspective too heavily. Everybody has accepted that "beer and tacos" is the right approach. But not everybody is equipped to be, or should be, serving both beer and tacos. Joe Sheehan made a similar point quite some time ago (I believe when he was arguing for the elevation of Jeremy Reed to BP's #1 prospect status) - essentially that BP's core mission was statistical analysis of baseball and that in integrating scouting insights to their analysis they were veering off course and watering down their product with information they did not know how to utilize as well as others. Jeremy Reed may have been a failure, but what I wanted BP to tell me was which prospects had the best projections based on statistical analysis. That approach may not have yielded the most accurate list, but it was an interesting perspective that added to the debate. And BP was better equipped than anybody else at the time to do this. I love Kevin Goldstein's work and I think he does a great job, but BP's acquiescence to the scouting community in prospect analysis has made them less interesting as a publication. I mean, how many websites do we need to tell us that some pitcher in low A ball throws hard, but lacks control and need to work on his secondary stuff and that he could be a #3 starter if all goes right but might end up in the bullpen (which seems to be the scouting report for about 40% of the pitching prospects in the world)?
   86. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:05 PM (#3925739)
Am I the only one here that doesn't really like Community? I usually find the actors on the show to be a lot better than their material - I generally find the writing rather obvious and ham-handed, but one person's humor is another person's however that phrase goes.
I like it. It's an erratic program and some of the writing is painful, but I like the genre #######, much of the acting, and the earnestness (in general). Plus, it's occasionally hilarious. TV would be a better place with more shows like it, more risk taking in general.
(Not big on the Abed character, though.)

Only TV shows I watch at this point are: P&R, Community, It's Always Sunny, Louie, and Archer.

***

But not everybody is equipped to be, or should be, serving both beer and tacos. Joe Sheehan made a similar point quite some time ago (I believe when he was arguing for the elevation of Jeremy Reed to BP's #1 prospect status) - essentially that BP's core mission was statistical analysis of baseball and that in integrating scouting insights to their analysis they were veering off course and watering down their product with information they did not know how to utilize as well as others.
I've thought about this and I'm not sure what the right answer is. I *think* it's to pursue truth and, if that means integrating scouting less ably than others but getting better outcomes as a result, so be it.

how many websites do we need to tell us that some pitcher in low A ball throws hard, but lacks control and need to work on his secondary stuff and that he could be a #3 starter if all goes right but might end up in the bullpen (which seems to be the scouting report for about 40% of the pitching prospects in the world)?
More! Many more!
(don't tell my spouse I said that)
   87. Spahn Insane Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:07 PM (#3925742)
Yet, most of their big money guys (Rowand, Zito, etc.) contributed almost nothing to winning that championship.

Beat me to it--seems to me (lately, at least) Sabean's better at his job when he's NOT spending a lot of money (even if he has a lot of it at his disposal).

The Giants' title was won almost entirely by an excellent young homegrown starting rotation and a rebuilt-on-the-fly-and-still-middling offense composed of scrapheap additions--Huff, Burrell, Ross, Torres, Uribe (plus two good homegrown hitters in Posey and Sandoval).




.
   88. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:12 PM (#3925748)
I am a big fan of community and the character of Abed, but I guess that means I like meta a little too much. Not every episode works, but I like the show's ambition.
   89. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3925749)
The other thing is that an "anti-Moneyball" comes down to what you think "Moneyball" is. I have always read it as a fairly basic "find undervalued assets" business book which is pretty unassailable.


If your team is producing $8 million of value for a $6 million investment, and team B is producing $10 million of value for a $12 million investment, you might be winning the "undervalued assets" contest but you are still losing on the field. The trick is not just finding "undervalued assets", but finding "undervalued assets" that, when combined, produce close to equivalent value to the "full-valued" and "overvalued" assets that your competition is finding.

This, to me, was always at the heart of the A's eventual failure to make more of their approach - Beane et al forgot (to some extent) that the total on-field value of your assets matters as much as (if not more than) the marginal value of those assets.

-- MWE
   90. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:15 PM (#3925752)
how many websites do we need to tell us that some pitcher in low A ball throws hard, but lacks control and need to work on his secondary stuff and that he could be a #3 starter if all goes right but might end up in the bullpen (which seems to be the scouting report for about 40% of the pitching prospects in the world)?


Most of the time, that's a true statement (I know I say it a lot). Picking the guys who can do that successfully out of the crowd of guys who need to do it, but can't, is the issue.

-- MWE
   91. hokieneer Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:16 PM (#3925755)
Only TV shows I watch at this point are: P&R, Community, It's Always Sunny, Louie, and Archer.

I never cared much for Sunny, and I keep forgetting to check Louie out. Aside from that, that's my list as well, with maybe HIMYM in small doses (the ####### laugh track). Occasionally I'll watch an episode of House or Office and get nostalgic for how much more I used to enjoy it years ago.

Non-comedy, I'll watch The Walking Dead again this season. It's nothing amazing, but it's decent enough for a zombie weekly show.
   92. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:17 PM (#3925756)
76 is nothing but the typical ex post facto rationalizing I see here so often after a team (always not Oakland) wins a championship.

Um, saying something about something that happened in the past is necessarily going to be "post facto."


Sorry, but I've been around here more than long enough to know how much Sabean was getting ripped by the know-it-alls on many of his moves at the time when they were being made. Now, suddenly he's a Beane disciple because he won.

Brian Sabean has a World Series ring. I would not want him to be GM of my favorite team under any circumstances.

The Giants had the 10th largest team payroll in 2010 and moved up to the 8th largest team payroll in 2011.

And they got worse!

There's nothing "Moneyball" about them whatsoever; the claim is a bunch of pure rubbish.

Once again: Just because something is pout-inducing for you personally does not make it false. Address the points made in 76 (and 77 and 81) or ... continue doing what you do.
   93. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:17 PM (#3925758)
76 is nothing but the typical ex post facto rationalizing I see here so often after a team (always not Oakland) wins a championship.

Sorry, but I've been around here more than long enough to know how much Sabean was getting ripped by the know-it-alls on many of his moves at the time when they were being made. Now, suddenly he's a Beane disciple because he won.


I agree with this. But your post suggesting Sabean being anti-moneyball and winning last year partially proves that other teams haven't adopted Beane's methods is almost as ridiculous. I say this without making any assertion whether or not teams have adopted his methods.
   94. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:20 PM (#3925761)
The Giants' title was won almost entirely by an excellent young homegrown starting rotation

The same exact thing which was almost entirely responsible for Oakland's run of playoff teams (Hudson, Mulder, and Zito), which led to the whole myth of Beane in the first place.
   95. Spahn Insane Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:26 PM (#3925768)
The same exact thing which was almost entirely responsible for Oakland's run of playoff teams (Hudson, Mulder, and Zito), which led to the whole myth of Beane in the first place.

This doesn't disprove the points being made, given that those A's teams were really damned good. No, they didn't win any championships, but they were among the few best teams in baseball several years running, on a shoestring budget.
   96. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3925778)
Jeremy Reed may have been a failure, but what I wanted BP to tell me was which prospects had the best projections based on statistical analysis.


What does that add to your understanding of what helps a prospect succeed, and what keeps him from being successful?

There are two important pieces of information that I derive from a minor leaguer's stat line, for both hitters and pitchers:

1. Contact rate. In what percentage of his non-walk plate appearances/BFP does the hitter make contact/pitcher prevent contact?
2. In-play average and power (BABIP/SLGIP). This indicates how often the hitter is making/pitcher is preventing *solid* contact.

Everything else (walk rate, HR rate, and so forth) is less valuable, as an indicator of success, than the two items above - not that I ignore the other stuff, but I use them more as additional sources of knowledge.

-- MWE
   97. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:37 PM (#3925785)
This doesn't disprove the points being made, given that those A's teams were really damned good. No, they didn't win any championships, but they were among the few best teams in baseball several years running, on a shoestring budget.

They had a run of very good teams based on a couple of excellent drafts that Alderson was just as responsible for as Beane, if not more so. This somehow led to this mythical notion that Beane had special deep statistical insight and talent identification ability that virtually everyone else around baseball lacked.

Thanks to the last few seasons, we know now that it was all rubbish. There is absolutely nothing special about Beane whatsoever. He is not the Warren Buffett of baseball; he was a meteoric flash in the pan and the result of a mythical creation story. He has (and never had) any deep statistical knowledge that others didn't, and he has no special ability to recognize talent that goes above and beyond the average baseball man.
   98. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3925801)
Am I the only one here that doesn't really like Community?

I am a big fan of community and the character of Abed, but I guess that means I like meta a little too much. Not every episode works, but I like the show's ambition.


It's too cute for me. I am not crazy about meta/self-aware/fourth-wall-broken humor. Nor am I crazy about humor that relies heavily on pop culture references. But the cast is terrific and the show is a lot stronger in the increasingly rare episodes when it's not attempting all that precious stuff I just mentioned.
   99. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#3925811)
What does that add to your understanding of what helps a prospect succeed, and what keeps him from being successful?

I'm not sure I understand this question. If BP and other sites improve their projections to the point where the can predict ML success based on minor league stats with a high degree of accuracy, it will be because they've isolated the component minor league stats that are most important. Once we have that knowledge, wouldn't that help our understanding of what makes a prospect succeed?
   100. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:58 PM (#3925815)
Louie's also hit and miss, but the highs are quite strong. Helps if you like inside baseball comedy stuff, as I do. My wife gave up on it just before the season ended, finding it too depressing.

***

If your team is producing $8 million of value for a $6 million investment, and team B is producing $10 million of value for a $12 million investment, you might be winning the "undervalued assets" contest but you are still losing on the field. The trick is not just finding "undervalued assets", but finding "undervalued assets" that, when combined, produce close to equivalent value to the "full-valued" and "overvalued" assets that your competition is finding.

I think I'm sort of in agreement with you, but could you elaborate? It sounds like what you're saying could be boiled down to 'he can't make $6M worth more than $12M', which is a failure of resources, not methods.
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