Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Newt and Moneyball

In May of 2003, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game was released. I quickly bought the book, having had heard of it on several websites that I visited regularly, and couldn't put it down.

In short, it's about how the Oakland Athletics' general manager, Billy Beane, goes beyond the typical offensive stats in baseball -- batting average, home runs, and RBIs -- to find players who are undervalued. Beane was one of the first GMs to look at on-base percentage, and because so few did, he was able to build one of the league's best offenses with one of the lowest payrolls.

Now, Beane has had to adjust, since more and more teams are understanding the value of OBP, but the A's still compete with teams that spend 2-times, 3-times, and even 4-times as much money as they do.

Why is this on a political blog, you may ask? Because the book is a favorite of Newt Gingrich. It makes sense that he would like it, for it details three things that he likes: new thinking, metrics-based solutions, and an anti-establishment approach.

The baseball "establishment" hated the book, even though many have not read the book -- and one person, Joe Morgan, is so ignorant of it he thinks that Beane himself wrote it. Not knowing what they were talking about did not stop the old guard from dismissing the book, and four years later, they still go on bizarre rants on TV, in newspaper articles, and on radio.

Since the book has come out, many company managers have had their employees read it; many of those companies are on Wall Street, which the author of Moneyball, Michael Lewis, had written a book about before.

The fact that Newt likes the book exemplifies why I think he should be president: He looks outside the box and is always looking for new information -- two qualities not commonly found in politicians.

(Note: There will be a movie based on the book coming out later this year.)

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