“Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” Reflection 1 (Chapters 1 & 2)

For my summer reading assignment I decided to read “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis. My late grandfather Vincent Morando was on track to play in the big leagues for the New York Yankees in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, his dream of becoming a major league pitcher was derailed when he tore his rotator cuff just weeks before the final tryouts. My family’s history with the game of baseball is what peaked my interest in this book. Being able to learn more about the game that my grandfather once loved gives me the chance to reconnect with him.

This book opens up to the recruiting process taking place in 1980 focused around five potential first-round picks but one in particular seems to be in the spotlight, Billy Beane. Scouts from all over the nation were drooling over Beane who in the eyes of the scouts seemed to blow away all other competition. With statistics that were remarkable for any prospect especially a high school player and a natural athletic build he seemed to be the perfect pick. Although my intuition leads me to believe that Billy Beane is not as perfect as he seems.

At the beginning of his senior year his stats began to drop and he developed severe anger issues when making an error. He also informed scouts that he was planning on attending Stanford University in the fall on a duel football- baseball scholarship instead of going straight into the minor leagues after high school. Even with this information the manager of the New York Mets Roger Jongewaard continued to pursue Beane and it paid off. Jongewaard along with Beane’s parents sweet-talked him into signing for the Mets. I see this as a huge mistake on Billy’s part because his heart obviously wasn’t in it if he needed to be persuaded. He had made it very clear that getting a college education was very important to him but his parents pushed him into something he didn’t truly want to pursue. He soon signed to the Mets and his acceptance into Stanford was revoked upon his signing. His family invested his signing money into real estate which was soon all lost. So Billy was now a minor league baseball player with no money and no college education.

In the beginning of Chapter 2 the year is 2002 and Billy Beane is now the general manager for a rather financially unfortunate team known as the Oakland A’s. We have yet to learn what came of Billy’s baseball carrer. We are introduced to Paul De Podesta, Beane’s assistant, and the mastermind behind the method to which Oakland would be able to draft the best players within the restraints of their scarce budget. Paul has come up with a list of statistcs that he believes are what make up a star player which seem to go against the traditional mold after discovering the reaction that the other scouts had when Beane introduced some of his top prospects. With a budget that is significantly smaller than the other successful teams in the league I believe that Beane should cut his risk and stick with some traditional picks. This way he has a foundation to fall back on if these untraditional players don’t come through but, this is not what he does.

Starting with a list of 680 prospects Beane along with the rest of the scouting and drafting team begin to go through the list determining who to use their seven first round picks on. Besides Nick Swisher, the other top prospects that Beane shines light on are against the traditional mold of what the older scouts believe make a successful baseball player. Listening to Billy describe these player I was left with an uneasy feeling on how they would perform. Since many of them do not possess the athletic capabilities that you would think someone would need to be successful. After reading these first chapters I am curious to see how this new way of drafting players changes the performance of the A’s. I predict that there are too many uncertainties with these players for the team to be successful right away. Possibly as time goes on Oakland might work out the kinks but I believe the team will get worse before they get better.