Moneyball as a Lesson of Innovation

I think it is only fair to start this out by saying that there are few things in this world that I love more than baseball. My family, some of my friends, my wife, maybe God (only kidding… kind of). So when a movie like Moneyball comes out it’s a pretty big deal. Now I will admit, this post is being written before I see the movie (but I’ve read the book so… that almost counts, right?). I’m planning on going to see it this afternoon so I will know quickly whether or not this post is completely off-base. But I don’t think it will be.

It’s been a hard year for fans of Minnesota sports. I recently moved from my sports home of Minneapolis down to Phoenix. I have enjoyed Arizona, but the physical distance from KFAN and other Minnesota sports fans has been tough. Thank God for podcasting.  One thing about Phoenix that surprised me, is that it is far and above a football town. Which is weird because they have a great baseball team and a fairly mediocre to not-so-great football team.

All of that aside, I’m really excited to see Moneyball (2011) with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  It’s based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 book.  From what I’ve heard/expect, it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of Bull Durham/Field of Dreams, not that I have high expectations or anything. Critics call Moneyball the baseball movie for nerds but I think it is made for all of us. Here is why.

If you don’t know the story, here is a summary.  Faced with putting together a baseball roster 1/4 the budget of the NY Yankees, General Manager of the Oakland A’s Billy Beane had enough. Every year, he would develop amazing players only to be robbed of them in free agency by rich teams like the Yankees or Red Sox.  Instead of drafting players solely on the basis of common stats like batting average, home runs, and RBIs, he used a computer-generated analysis and found a better way to rate players (this is called Sabermetrics). This idea stressed the greater importance of “lesser stats” like on base percentage (hits plus walks and being hit by pitches), which gives their team a statistical advantage in the long run.  And it worked albeit with heavy opposition of the idea for his first season in 2003.

Was it a change that came easy? No.

Did the “establishment” of baseball cry foul and think he was crazy?  Yes.

The thing about Moneyball is that it awakens an “innovative spirit” within us.  Whether in business, school, your personal life, church, or your slow-pitch softball team that went 2-15 last summer, we must pay attention to what this movie awakens in us.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s try this…

When someone says something like “that’s the way we’ve always done it”,

Pause.

Question whether that means it’s the best course of action for the future.

If it didn’t work today, adapt it and try it again.

Keep creating. Keep questioning. And keep moving forward.

It’s the only way to stay ahead.

Cheers,
Eric

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Comments

  1. It may not feel quite like the classic baseball movie others have achieved, but it’s certainly pleasant enough to be enjoyable even by non-sports fan, and features great performances from Hill and Pitt. Good review.

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