When I talk to any of my friends, who aren’t nuts about sports, about my current research project/paper, most often I get the following question, “Like Moneyball, right?” I always felt slightly embarrassed that I had neither made the two hour investment to watch the movie or read the novel—until now.
Usually when there is a book and movie version out, I’ll always try to read the book (especially in a topic I’m interested in) before I watch the Hollywood version of the story). The movie Moneyball came out in 2011 (so 6 years ago), and I procrastinated reading this book until now. However, since I just finished the book I’ll watch the movie soon so I can better answer the frequent follow-up question and talk about how my paper pertains to the story.
Interestingly on the back of the book, someone wrote a glowing review of how Moneyball was an entertaining book even for people who didn’t know about baseball, however, I disagree with that statement.
Moneyball was a story of how a man, Billy Beane, bridged a gap between the statisticians “nerds” and the coaches and players “jocks,” using his own baseball career. Since he had played in the major leagues before he had more credibility with the coaches and players to influence change, compared to the mathematicians who worked with him to formulate ways to quantify skill in baseball.
The story goes into a lot of detail about how the runs and other statistics were derived and calculated, and that is where I imagine people who are not as in tuned with sports would get lost. However, the author did a good job of including important dialogue and background on Billy Beane’s childhood and personal life throughout the story, but not enough in my opinion to keep the attention of someone who isn’t into sports.
My biggest takeaway in this book comes from the inspiration that in order to make a lasting impact an individual must straddle two worlds, so much so that he or she can successfully build relationships and trust to influence change in the both hemispheres.