Game Changers

I was beginning to think that I had nothing to write today. It’s been a slow couple of days, and I was fearful that I hadn’t been learning anything new. Oh no!!! What to do???  I guess that’s bound to happen, and maybe at some point I’ll have to write about writer’s block or idea drought or some such thing. But then, a TV movie came to the rescue. A couple months ago, my brother-in-law, Ed recommended the movie Moneyball. I’m not a huge sports fan, but baseball is the exception. I do have a true appreciation for baseball. When I saw that Moneyball was on cable, I was delighted to give it a look. Without giving it all away, the centerpiece of the movie was a fellow by the name of Billie Beane. This is a real person, and the movie was about a true story. I always have a lot of skepticism about Hollywood’s treatment of true stories. But I did a little bit of research, and it seems like this movie stuck pretty closely to the facts.

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Billie Beanne is a fascinating character, and this movie was about his early years as the GM for the Oakland Athletics. Fed up with the way professional baseball had become a game where payroll was the primary distinguishing factor between championship teams and all the rest, he set out to develop and use a new system of scouting players. Rather than relying on traditional scouting reports, he and a statistician used math to analyze players’ strengths and potential. He then went on to build a team using players that he had found with this method. Since these were not big-name players, he faced a lot of resistance throughout the Athletics organization. In spite of all this opposition, he was able to have a lot of success with his system.

Toward the end of the film, Beanne made a statement about his goals. “I know these guys. I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we’ve done here, none of it’ll matter. Any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They’re drinking champagne, they get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team… we’ll have changed the game. And that’s what I want. I want it to mean something.” That got to me. He wanted to change the game. People like that get my attention every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a movie, in sports, or anywhere else in life. Devotion to changing the game means something to me. I’m glad I followed my brother-in-law’s advice and took a look at this movie.

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