I’m just going to back up the Slate discussion: this is the best baseball book in a long, long time. If you care about the game at all, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Lewis is a damn good writer.
It’s a brilliant book. Billy Beane is a nut, but I agree with one reader review on Amazon, I think, which questions if the guy actually enjoys baseball anymore.
It’ll be curious to see what Theo Epstein does with the Red Sox. He’s the first Beane disciple to have a huge market team.
Did he ever enjoy baseball?
He’s just a bond trader in a different market; it’s like Lewis rewrote Liar’s Poker from a different point of view. The bits where he trades a player the As need for an equivalent, strictly to gain a bit of cash/players/whatever in the transaction are hilarious; he’s doing it just because he knows the market for his guy is overvalued. Hard to imagine a less “baseball” thing to do.
An interesting line of thought Lewis didn’t folllow up on is the long-term effects of all this. You may not need cash to buy wins now, but what will happen when sabermetrics squeezes all the inefficiencies out of the player market, eventually?
That’s a very good question. Then it’ll probably come down to one thing you can’t measure in stats: luck.
Luck, scouting (the prediction of future stats), and manipulation (coaching).
Young (pre-contracted) studs are the most valuable commodity in baseball to a team on a limited budget. Small-money teams either rely on top Farms and Scouts or they are the Detroit Tigers.
Top Free Agents exist in another market. They are the difference-makers for rich teams who compete against each other. Free Agents may look overpaid, but they really just exist in a restricted cash-heavy market (where demand way exceeds supply you could say).
It’s a great book,but it shouldn’t be taken entirely at face value,since Lewis is,after all,trying to write a good story.
Hence,The A’s have been good the last few years because their best players are great baseball players,the same way more traditional front offices win.The A’s just don’t do stupid things like paying a lot of money for average to mediocre roster filler.
I think Lewis overplays the ‘two evil mad scientists running a lab experiment’ card,and I think he also mistakenly believes that the A’s win because they pick out oddball,mis-shapen players from baseball’s dumpster,and give the rest of the league what for with them.
But it’s a great book,which I think everyone should read.
I haven’t read Moneyball yet, but I’ll definitely take a look at it. There’s nothing like a good baseball book, isn’t there? BTW, everyone who loves the game should read Richard Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio: A Hero’s Life. Amazing bio. Very detailed, right down to crazy stuff like Joe stuffing the piles of money he had in his SF house into a garbage bag during the 1989 earthquake. Not recommended if you like to idolize your sports heroes, though.
An Old Thread Re-appears!
Has anyone read Michael Lewis’s “newer” book on football?
I read Moneyball two years ago, and really enjoyed it, and I noticed he had published one on football, but havent had the time to pick it up yet. Is it worth reading?
It’s ok. It’s got a very different focus than Moneyball, so don’t go in expecting “Moneyball for football.”
His football book is much more the story of a particular high school player than it is a book about the evolution of football strategy. There is some of the latter in there, but it’s not the primary focus.
Well, that brings an interesting question. Is there such a book? Like an entertaining look at football strategy with about the same sophistication level as moneyball?
The Smart Football blog is great for detailed football strategy. As a good point of reference, look up his post on the history of the Run and Shoot.
Football doesn’t take to statistics the same way Baseball does; but the smart folks at Football Outsiders (they do the Football Prospectus) are doing a bang up job none the less (and have done my fantasy team a great service in the last 3 years when we heeded them).
That blog is great, and I just subscribed to it. But I would also like to know if there are any good books. I am looking for reading material over a beach trip this summer.
Wader: “The Hidden Game of Football” is the book that most of the FO statistical work is based on. Good luck finding a copy - I’ve been trying to for years.
As I recall Troy Aikman did some work as well (he’s particularly critical of the quarterback rating system), I thought he’d written a book but I can’t find it.