In so, so, so many ways TWTC does a much greater disservice to scouts that it does to the stat people. Heck, it merely makes stats-people into unrecognizably cartoonish figures who hate baseball but want to work in it so they can take over the world with their baffling “batting average” statistics. Big deal.
But scouts … this movie was supposed to celebrate them. Instead it makes grumpy and unfunny old men* who have some sort of weird super-power ability to hear drifting hands. This is exactly the stale depiction of scouts that Moneyball did such a good job of lampooning in the first place….
But here’s the point: If you want to celebrate a scout, why wouldn’t you have him NOTICE all these things. This gets at the very heart of what scouts do. They watch the games. They talk to the players. They learn all about the families. They listen to the fans. If you are doing a whole movie about what scouts can tell you that computer can’t—this is very crux of the argument. One of my favorite scout stories involves a scout in Venezuela who saw a kid play. He was too small, he was too slow, he couldn’t hit a lick. But the scout loved him, loved him because he had these beautiful soft hand, the ball just stuck to his glove, velcro, and he had this marvelous arm and this wonderful attitude. The scout kept following around the kid—there was something about him.
He called the GM personally to plead the case. He said he only needed $5,000 to sign the kid. $5K. It was nothing. The GM said no. Kid can’t run. Kid can’t hit. Who cares about soft hands? The scout said, “Fine, I’ll put up the 5K myself and prove you wrong.” The GM was impressed with that and he liked the scout a lot and he said, “OK, fine, you can have 5K.”
The player turned out to be Andres Blanco—not a star, certainly, not even an everyday player. But the guy got 654 plate appearances in the big leagues, made some dazzling defensive plays and was one hell of a deal for $5,000.