Monday, October 17, 2011

Moneyball Failed

I notice that, in 3 weeks, the film version of Moneyball has made $57 million.

That's not good.

It doesn't even exceed the A's payroll: $67 million.

So Moneyball the film has failed every bit as spectacularly as Moneyball the baseball philosophy.


Billy Beane became General Manager of the Oakland Athletics during the 1998 season.

In that time, Pennants have been won by the following teams:

New York Yankees 6
St. Louis Cardinals 3 (including this season)
Boston Red Sox 2
Philadelphia Phillies 2
San Francisco Giants 2
Texas Rangers 1 (including this season)
Anaheim Angels 1
Arizona Diamondbacks 1
Atlanta Braves 1
Chicago White Sox 1
Colorado Rockies 1
Detroit Tigers 1
Florida Marlins 1
Houston Astros 1
New York Mets 1
San Diego Padres 1
Tampa Bay Rays 1
Texas Rangers 1

This includes: 6 teams that had never won a Pennant before; 4 teams that hadn't won a Pennant since Ronald Reagan was President; a team that hadn't won a Pennant since Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, and just that 1 since Woodrow Wilson was; and a team that, until 2008, had been averaging a Pennant every quarter of a century.

Under Beane's stewardship, the A's have won exactly zero Pennants. This despite having won 6 in the 30 years prior to his becoming their GM – and that doesn't count the 9 they won in Philadelphia.

In addition, here is every MLB team's record in postseason series, starting in October 1998, the first one that Beane could have won:

1. New York Yankees 18-9
2. St. Louis Cardinals 10-6 (with this year's World Series yet to come)
3. Boston Red Sox 8-6
4. Philadelphia Phillies 6-4
5. San Francisco Giants 5-3
6. Anaheim Angels 5-5 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
7. Chicago White Sox 4-2
8. Texas Rangers 4-3 (Tiebreaker, more losses, with this year's World Series yet to come)
9. New York Mets 4-3 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
10. Atlanta Braves 4-10 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
11. Florida Marlins 3-0
12. Detroit Tigers 3-2 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
13. Arizona Diamondbacks 3-4 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
14. Colorado Rockies 2-2 (Tiebreaker, less recent)
15. Seattle Mariners 2-2 (Tiebreaker, hasn’t won Pennant)
16. Tampa Bay Rays 2-3 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
17. San Diego Padres 2-3 (Tiebreaker, less recent)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers 2-4 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
19. Cleveland Indians 2-4 (Tiebreaker, less recent)
20. Houston Astros 2-5 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
21. Milwaukee Brewers 1-2
22. Chicago Cubs 1-4 (Tiebreaker, less recent)
23. Oakland Athletics 1-5 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
24. Minnesota Twins 1-6 (Tiebreaker, more losses)
25. Cincinnati Reds 0-1
26. Baltimore Orioles Last played and won one in 1997
27. Toronto Blue Jays Last played and won one in 1993
28. Kansas City Royals Last played and won one in 1985
29. Pittsburgh Pirates Last played one in 1992, last won in 1979
30. Washington Nationals Last played one in 1981 as Montreal Expos

The A's are 23rd out of 30. Does this look to you like "genius"? Does this look to you like "Moneyball" works?

True, the A's don't have the worst of these records. But then, nobody's written books or made movies talking about how the general manager of the Twins is a "genius." (Yes, I know, there was a movie about the Twins, Little Big League. But it was fiction, whereas Moneyball was based on actual events.)

And don't tell me the A's are in a 'small market." The San Francisco Bay Area has 4.3 million people. And it's growing: That’s a 5 percent increase from the 2000 to the 2010 Census. It’s the 11th-largest market, but that's faster growth than 5 of the markets with more people: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. And that doesn't even count the bigger market of Toronto, which isn't even in the U.S. (Of the 25 U.S. markets with at least 1 MLB team, 22 grew over that period, all but Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.)

You're saying the A's have a lesser share of that Bay Area market than the Giants? This is true. But even if you cut that 4,335,391 figure in half, you've got 2,167,696, which is more than Cincinnati, Cleveland and Kansas City – and the Indians, the woeful "Curse of Rocky Colavito" Indians, have done better in postseason play than the A's.

Besides that, with the growth of baseball on TV, merchandising, and the Internet, there really is no such thing as a "small market" anymore.

And the one time the A's actually won a postseason series in the Beane era, the 2006 American League Division Series, they then got swept in the League Championship Series by the Tigers. Swept. They still haven't won an LCS game since George Bush was President. The father, not the son.

The A's lost in the ALDS 4 straight years, 2000-03. In the 2003-04 offseason, while the Yankees and Red Sox were finding new players to amp up their rivalry and keep themselves in contention for the title, Beane could have said to A's management, "Give me the money I need to build a team that can win the World Series. What you've given me so far hasn't worked. Give me that money, or I quit, and I'll get the job done somewhere else."

Beane has never done that. So he’s not only not a genius: He's a loser, and he's a coward.

Explain to me why they made a movie out of Moneyball, with Brad Pitt playing Beane? Explain to me why they haven't made a movie about the most successful general manager of that era, Brian Cashman?

Moneyball failed because Billy Beane is a coward. He should have told ownership, "This isn't working. Give me the money I need to get that 4th starter and that solid closer, or I quit, and I'll go to a team that will give me that money."

A's management could have called his bluff, and would be no worse off than they are now. Instead, Beane stayed put, and chose not to get on the "fair" side of the game.

The Red Sox have fired Theo Epstein. Did they offer the job to Beane? No.

Would he have taken it? No, because he doesn't want to be exposed as the non-genius that he is. Nor did he get offered, nor would he have taken, the Cubs job that went to Epstein. He wouldn't even go across the Bay to the Giants, if that job became available. He's too chicken to take charge of the most popular team in the area -- which, even when the A's were winning (sort of), the Giants always were.

If the A's leave the Bay Area, Beane won't be the only one at fault, but his failure to win even one Pennant for a team that won 6 before him (15 if you count their Philadelphia years) makes him, if the team moves, guilty of, at the very least, negligent manslaughter.

I have no respect for Beane. Instead of Brad Pitt, he should have been played by Steve Carell. He's used to playing ineffectual clowns.

Seriously: Explain this bullshit.


Dean Dooley said...

Wow. What an uninformed, inaccurate argument.

The Moneyball concept "failed" so drastically that every team in baseball now uses it to varying degrees. The Red Sox won two World Series using Moneyball concepts, which, btw, were invented by Bill James, who works for the Red Sox.

And the movie cost $50 mil to make. It's already made a profit in only 3 weeks of U.S. release. It will make even more profit off DVD sales, rentals, TV rights, etc.

Nobody was expecting the movie to be the next Titanic.

The concept of Moneyball, however, has drastically impacted the game.

Uncle Mike said...

Uninformed? Use your eyes. Inaccurate? No Pennants. Of course it's accurate.

Actually, the Red Sox won 2 World Series using that other Oakland concept: Steroids.

Moneyball is a failure because the A's failed while using it.

And while the movie isn't "the next Titanic," the A's franchise is sinking. San Diego desperately needed one Pennant to get a new ballpark built and save their franchise, and got it; Oakland hasn't since 1990.

The A's may win another Pennant someday, but it may not be in Oakland, and it will never happen as long as Beane is in charge, unless he mans up and demands the money needed to compete.

MC1 said...

Have you read Moneyball?

Dewey said...

Either you haven't read the book, or you've completely misinterpreted what it's about...

Tools of Ignorance said...

Yes, uninformed. Or, perhaps more accurately, ignorant.

From your opinions it appears you do not understand what the Moneyball concept is - maximizing a minute payroll by exploiting market inefficiencies. At the time, that included statistical analysis, players with high OBAs, and not overpaying for certain jobs (such as closers).

Draft picks became the new gold rush - notice the trouble many middle relievers experience on the free agent market due to their Type-A status. Almost all of the teams employ statistical analysis. OBA is extremely valued now.

Admittedly, there were flaws - cutting scouting was, in retrospect, unwise. And we can't pretend that already having Hudson, Mulder & Zito, while playing in a four team division were negligible factors.

Why do you arbitrarily use league pennants as your barometer of success? Postseasons are a small sample size; there's a reason the Rangers are only the third team to repeat as league champs in your timeframe. The best teams don't always win.

Moneyball didn't fail; the league just adapted and caught up. And if you believe that the Sox were the only team with steroid-enhanced players, then, well, shame on you.

and it will never happen as long as Beane is in charge, unless he mans up and demands the money needed to compete.

a) He can "man up" all he wants, but Wolff is not going to pony up more, and b) spoken like a true Yankee fan.

Uncle Mike said...

MC1: No, I haven't read the book, and won't. If I want to read a book about a loser, I'll read one about the Mets.

Dewey and Tools: It is Beane who has "completely misinterpreted what it's about." As Herman Edwards taught us, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. You don't play it to save money.

The reason I use Pennants as my barometer is because that, and the subsequent World Series, is what a baseball team's goal should be. If the goal is to save money, then, to quote Herm again, "Then retire. Get out! Because it matters."

An owner who cared about winning would have fired Billy Beane years ago. An owner who doesn't care about winning ought to be banned from the sport for life. And anyone who can't accept that is a damn fool.

Tools of Ignorance said...

I haven't read it, and won't. But I'll tell you why it's wrong based on my vague misconceptions about it!

I'm done. I'm the idiot for arguing with a fool.

Matt_CC said...

No, I haven't read the book, and won't.

Lol, what a fucking dumbass.

If I stay ignorant than I can keep arguing like I'm a smart person.

Uncle Mike said...

It's not whether THE BOOK is wrong, you moronic cunts.

It's whether THE PHILOSOPHY is wrong!

And it is! It has failed miserably!

Tools of Ignorance said...


You DON'T KNOW the philosophy.

Fuck, man. Get a clue.

Dewey said...

Gotta agree with the other commenters. The fact that you haven't read the book is laughable, and yet here you are, bashing it's premise which you've completely misinterpreted. All you've done here is taken a term "made famous" by Billy Beane, given it your own meaning, and then shit all over it. Uninformed and inaccurate are not strong enough adjectives to describe this mess of a post.

Uncle Mike said...

And yet, you dopes haven't changed the essential facts.

* Beane is called a genius because he uses this philosophy he calls "Moneyball" to win.

* But he has only won Division Titles -- not Pennants.

* He has failed miserably in October.

* And he hasn't reached the Playoffs in 5 years -- presumably using the same philosophy.

* Over that same stretch, such "small-market" teams as the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Cardinals, Astros, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Rangers have won Pennants.

* The Mets, White Sox and Angels have proven that you can be the 2nd-most popular team in a market and still win a Pennant.

* Beane then refused to pay to keep his talent, thus winning a Pennant for the Yankees (Giambi), a World Series for the Yankees (Swisher), a World Series for the Cardinals (Mulder), and a World Series for the cross-Bay Giants (Zito).

* And the A's are in danger of being lost to some other metro area.

So explain to me how "Moneyball" was an effective strategy for the A's. You can't. The facts convict Beane, and mark you all out as the truly ignorant ones here.

Anonymous said...

Forgetting about the success, or lack thereof, of the Oakland Athletics and the so-called Moneyball philosophy, there are two points here that truly show your ignorance.

1) A $57 million dollar gross for a sports drama is actually very good. Since you posted this, the gross of Moneyball has gone up to $68 million and it is now the third highest grossing baseball movie of all-time, behing The Rookie and A League of Their Own. The Rookie is at $75 million, so Moneyball will likely finish in the #2 spot.

2) Your notion that Billy Beane is a coward because he did not issue an ultimatum to his owner that he put up the dough necessary or he (Beane) will walk, is absurd. Anyone with an idea of the Athletics financial situation knows that any such ultimatum would have resulted in Beane being fired, and rightfully so. Beane cannot demand money he damn well knows isn't there. He can "man up" all he wants, but he had to work with what his owner gave him. That's because that is all the owner had to give him. Beane, being an adult, knew this and decided to use other means (ie the Moneyball philosophy) to replace players he could not afford to keep, like Jason Giambi. And even if he did pull such an ultimatum, just where would such a wild, undisciplined move get him? I don't know of any owner who would pick up a GM who throws around tantrums and ultimatums like that.

Uncle Mike said...

1. Just because a movie has big gross doesn't make it good. It doesn't matter how much money James Cameron made, the definitive Titanic movie will always be "A Night to Remember."

2. If Beane had been fired for making such a demand, he could have named his price elsewhere.

3. Bull shit, that's all his owner had to give him. Every team owner can afford to spend like the Yankees -- or else they wouldn't have been able to buy the team in the first place. If they didn't think they could spend their way into contention, they shouldn't have bought the team, and thus THEY are the problem -- and thus Beane should have just quit on them, because they had quit on him.