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Monday, October 19, 2020

Daryl Morey and Billy Beane’s Greatest Achievement Was Capturing Our Imaginations

Which I think also helps to explain another aspect of the analytics movement that has always confused me: the fact that it thinks of itself as a movement at all. Doesn’t “movement” seem a little lofty for something so granular, practical, and technical? So deeply skeptical of abstract conventions? But from the beginning, you could feel that paradox in the way people talked about Moneyball: It was on the one hand a commitment to unemotional, lowercase-e empiricism, but on the other hand it had this glow of higher truth. Like tech culture in its early days (like tech culture now, for that matter, but in its early days it seemed less delusional), it seemed to point to something larger, some more fundamental shift in outlook, than the relatively modest points it was specifically addressing. The comparative efficiency of bunting or whether people could order pet food on their phones don’t sound like conversations with messianic undercurrents. But when the culture is flooded with narratives celebrating super-gifted savants and their upending of all prior assumptions, that’s what you get. This is, of course, another sort of irrational sentimentality, but then, it’s very rare to come across a skeptical movement that isn’t basically sentimental about itself.

In the end, what might be most striking about Beane and Morey’s departures is how relatively minor they feel.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2020 at 10:14 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: billy beane

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