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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slate: Michael Lewis and Billy Beane talk Moneyball

Don’t have time to thumb through all of it (flood of Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands EP’s take precedent!), but this…

However, the people who make this objection don’t seem to grasp the basic principles of imitation and catch-up. Once all teams are playing Moneyball, then playing Moneyball no longer gives you an edge. Indeed, the richer clubs have the means to play it smarter. The New York Yankees recently hired 21 statisticians, Beane marvels.

...Lewis breaks in: “To be totally fair to Billy, he likes attention less than anybody who’s got as much attention as he has. You’re shy, that’s what it is! You just hide it well.”

Actually, admits Beane, the film did give him one good celebrity moment. Unusually for anyone in professional sport, Beane counts among his many obsessions punk and indie music. (The Clash poster on Pitt’s office wall in the movie is strictly accurate.) When the film came out in north America, Beane found himself at a table at the Toronto film festival organised by Moneyball’s producer, Sony Pictures. He says, “I was sitting next to the Sonys. Brad and Angelina Jolie were over there. And right there was this guy, and the whole night I kept thinking, ‘Man, that guy looks just like Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.’ So the guy gets up to leave and I turn round and say, ‘That guy’s trying too hard because he’s trying to look just like Chris Cornell.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, that is Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.’ I went, ‘What? I’ve been asking him to pass the scallops all night!’ And off I go and introduce myself to him. That was my closest lookie-me moment.”

Repoz Posted: November 13, 2011 at 03:34 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, books, business, history, media, sabermetrics

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   1. The_Ex Posted: November 13, 2011 at 07:29 PM (#3992564)
From TFA, something I did not know:

However, the people who make this objection don’t seem to grasp the basic principles of imitation and catch-up. Once all teams are playing Moneyball, then playing Moneyball no longer gives you an edge. Indeed, the richer clubs have the means to play it smarter. The New York Yankees recently hired 21 statisticians, Beane marvels.


If the Yankees recently hired 21 stats guys what are they going from and to. Is it from 3 to 24, indicating a big push in that area. Or is it from 21 to 42?

Who leads the Yankees stats efforts anyway?
   2. BobT Posted: November 13, 2011 at 08:28 PM (#3992590)
It's like Charles Foster Kane hiring all the reporters from the Chronicle to work for his Inquirer. I soon expect a big party with people singing songs "His name is Cashman. Brian Cashman...."
   3. Zach Posted: November 13, 2011 at 10:46 PM (#3992624)
Are the Yankees aware of this new invention called the electronic computer? It lets you use less than one stastistician per player.
   4. Tripon Posted: November 13, 2011 at 11:07 PM (#3992632)
Maybe the Yankees should invest on an Ipad.
   5. Repoz Posted: November 13, 2011 at 11:40 PM (#3992642)
The New York Yankees recently hired 21 statisticians

So that's where the all those Bleacher Report writers went after King kanned them!
   6. Tripon Posted: November 13, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#3992646)
What, will Bleacher Report not do a story on the 20 best boobs in Sports now?
   7. Bob Evans Posted: November 14, 2011 at 03:05 AM (#3992781)
What, will Bleacher Report not do a story on the 20 best boobs in Sports now?

Yes, but to economize, they will feature the boobs from 10 women.
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 14, 2011 at 03:35 AM (#3992791)
But the former ballplayers who then ran baseball were even more aghast. The notion that numbers could trump gut outraged them. ... Other teams began hiring Epsteins and Beanes rather than clubbable ex-players. Last season only three of 30 GMs in the major leagues had played professional baseball, none of them very successfully. Beane has ended up restricting job opportunities in baseball for people from backgrounds like Beane’s.

I'm pretty sure the author meant major-league baseball (several GMs played in the minors), but I thought this was an interesting fact. It really has been a "revenge of the nerds," in a manner of speaking, especially when you consider that two of those three GMs who did play in the majors -- Ruben Amaro Jr. and Kenny Williams -- also went to Stanford, and the third is Billy Beane himself.
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 14, 2011 at 04:03 AM (#3992810)
How much would it cost you to hire 21 statisticians? According to the BLS, the median statistician earned $72,610 in wages in 2008. Figure $85-90 including benefits. So you can hire 21 statisticians for $1.7-$1.8 million.

That's not exactly chump change, but it's less than half of what the A's paid Hideki Matsui for replacement level performance in 2011. I'm also skeptical that any team needs that many statisticians. I think the key is having a few innovative people who understand both the numbers and the game of baseball overseeing the operation--people who have interesting ideas to study and who also know the game well enough to understand the limitations of the available data and other issues along those lines. Those guys might be expensive, but not compared to even mediocre MLB players.
   10. Darren Posted: November 14, 2011 at 06:03 AM (#3992837)
Yes, it seems like with that many guys, you're likely to buried under stacks of reports on how drinking orange juice correlates with good chatter.
   11. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 14, 2011 at 06:31 AM (#3992845)
But the former ballplayers who then ran baseball were even more aghast. The notion that numbers could trump gut outraged them. ... Other teams began hiring Epsteins and Beanes rather than clubbable ex-players. Last season only three of 30 GMs in the major leagues had played professional baseball, none of them very successfully. Beane has ended up restricting job opportunities in baseball for people from backgrounds like Beane’s.


In 2000, three years before Moneyball's publication, the number of former major leaguers occupying the big chair in major league front offices was a whopping four - Beane, Bill Stoneman, Ron Schueler and Jim Beattie. The movement away from former ballplayers as GMs predated Moneyball, Theoball and the like.
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: November 14, 2011 at 08:40 AM (#3992868)
How much would it cost you to hire 21 statisticians? According to the BLS, the median statistician earned $72,610 in wages in 2008. Figure $85-90 including benefits. So you can hire 21 statisticians for $1.7-$1.8 million.

I figure a baseball team can and do hire the bulk of them very cheaply, because everybody wants to get a foot in in baseball, I'd say 40K a piece.

I'm also skeptical that any team needs that many statisticians. I think the key is having a few innovative people who understand both the numbers and the game of baseball overseeing the operation--people who have interesting ideas to study and who also know the game well enough to understand the limitations of the available data and other issues along those lines.

There are grunt work to do, if you are set on creating a proprietary system for this or that, the programming will consume headcount. Or maybe they are taking very raw data and trying to make something of it.
   13. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 14, 2011 at 11:39 AM (#3992876)
Good point, SoSH.
   14. Styles P. Deadball Posted: November 14, 2011 at 07:22 PM (#3993134)
how drinking orange juice correlates with good chatter.


Heyyyyyyy Batta-Batta-Batta

GULP

Suhhhh-WING!

I'd like to see if that s#*t works in the playoffs.

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