Monday, January 16, 2012
Moneyball (by Pedja dell'Arno)
Watch this movie: "Moneyball". And read the book with the same name, which was written by Michael Lewis and published in 2004. The main character in the movie is interpreted by Brad Pitt in the role of the general manager of the Baseball team of the Oakland Athletics. The movie and the book tell the true story of how this general manager embraced the theories of statisticians and (behavioral) economists that were approaching baseball with more rigorous eyes that had been usual until the 1990s. In particular, the movie and the book show how the transfer market was completely inefficient because it was dominated by the prejudices and gut feeling of a caste of ignorant decision makers. You don't need to understand anything about baseball to grasp the profound message of this story. It is actually the old story about the revolutionaries against the conservatives, and how difficult it is to break with the past when there are powerful interests. The movie and the book were recently praised in an article in the Financial Times by Simon Kuper, probably the best sports journalist in the world, and co-author (with Stefan Scymanski) of the book Soccernomics.