Skip to content

Moneyball and the Art of Innovation

January 5, 2013

It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy.

– John Henry, Moneyball

I had been waiting a long time to see this movie. Unfortunately, it took me almost two years to do it (January 2, 2012, to be exact). Despite this setback, it doesn’t stop Moneyball from being one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past two to three years.

Moneyball is based on a book written by Michael Lewis (fully titled Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game), whose writing credits also include The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which was also made into a movie. Moneyball is a look at Billy Beane, a former baseball player and then-general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, and his assistant GM, Peter Brand (based off of Paul DePodesta), a Yale graduate who had been working for the Cleveland Indians prior to joining Beane’s staff, as they attempt to implement a new approach to the way baseball players are scouted.

The movie begins with the last game of the 2001 Atlantic League Division Series, where the Athletics lost to the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. During the postseason, Beane and his scouting team must find a way to soften the blow left by the loss of key players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen to free agency. Oakland’s scouting staff find themselves unable to compete with teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the free agency market, due to their limited payroll.

To counter this, they begin to challenge the norm, and implement a new style; instead of using the often-used method of intuition, “potential” and other intangibles that may/may not have anything to do with playing baseball, they use advanced mathematics (known as Sabermetrics) to search for players that may have been overlooked by other ball clubs.

Instead of integrating and going with a tried-and-true that may be more flawed than anyone would care to admit, Beane and Brand decided to innovate and create something that challenges the flaws of the original method.

It didn’t start out easy; there were a lot of people that were opposed to the Sabermetric scouting system. When the Athletics started slowly out of the gate, the Sabermetric scouting system was deemed an utter and absolute failure, despite the Major League Baseball season having 162 games. Since that time, the Sabermetric scouting method has been applied to other teams, including the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who won World Series using the Sabermetric model.

What Moneyball taught me is that there’s nothing wrong with going against the status quo. The status quo often finds people disoriented. Disorientation usually leads to questioning, but those curious enough to want to find answers will often ask. If you believe there is something worth fighting for, fight for it, but don’t be surprised if you face opposition.

When plans don’t turn out as expected, or are not meeting results, that even those closest to you will start to question your decisions. This is not because they don’t care or want to see you fail, but because they usually do not see the immediate results. The bottom line is the final result. No one ever really sees the path to success until they’re right on the brink of success. Even then, the documentation is skewered to benefit the story.

If you believe in your product, it will yield results. You may not finish with the people you start with, and you may have to make changes with the plan. With a solid foundation and time, you may find yourself changing the game for good. Then people will want to integrate with you.

Keep the dream alive.


The Human Spider

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: