This post continues the series of articles entitled: What I Learned From. As the title suggests, in each article I distil the most interesting things I learned about getting a girl to like you from whatever book, class or DVD I’ve just finished.
Moneyball, written in 2003 by Michael Lewis, profiles Billy Beane, the General Manager of baseball’s Oakland Athletics. It is simultaneously the best book I have ever read on business, betting, psychology, sport and about a hundred other things. If you haven’t read it, please go out and buy it now. I don’t care if you have no interest whatsoever in baseball, just buy it.
Use What You Have
At its heart, Moneyball is about how to generate the greatest returns on limited resources. Oakland had fewer resources than nearly every other major league team.
Big money teams, like the New York Yankees (baseball’s equivalent of Abramovich’s Chelsea) had superstars at every position. Two years before, the Texas Rangers had signed baseball’s best player, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, to a 10 year, $252m deal, far more than the As had at their disposal for the whole team.
Smaller market teams had always tried to compete with the powerhouses by signing a couple of big-name players and then filling out the roster with what Lewis calls “replacement-level” players.
But Beane realised that was just to play the likes of the Yankees at their own game. If every team was chasing the same type of superstar, and the wealthy franchises could simply afford more of them, the likes of Oakland would forever be making up the numbers.
Try to Find Value
Beane realised that he needed, fundamentally, to change the way players were VALUED. With limited dollars to work with, every one would need to generate the maximum output. I won’t bore non-baseball fans with the details, but (very briefly) he went about this in three ways:
1. He prioritised certain statistical measurements over the ones that had been used to rate baseball players for hundreds of years1.
2. He discounted a player’s high-school record and concerned himself only with how players had performed at college (university).
3. He stopped looking at the players before he signed them. He didn’t care what they looked like, if they were fat or ugly, if they didn’t fit what a baseball player was “supposed” to look like.
Some things, Beane discovered, were over-valued2 in assessing the worth of baseball players; some things were under-valued3. Beane’s genius was to totally discount the over-valued metrics. He couldn’t afford to compete with the Yankees to sign speedy high-school hitting machines. If he did, he’d simply end up with a team that looked like the Yankees but wasn’t as good as the Yankees. He had to buy very good players whom no one else wanted.
What Billy Beane Did
Beane filled his team with slow, unathletic types who had had solid (but not spectacular) college careers. He wasn’t buying them because he thought they were the best. In fact, he was well aware that Scott Hatteberg and Chad Bradford weren’t better than the likes of A-Rod and Roy Halladay. But they were the best he could get for the money. Because no one else wanted them, he had no competition.
Scouts from other teams laughed at them; bookmakers discounted them; “experts” from sports magazines ignored them in their season previews. Yet the Oakland As, on one of the smallest budgets in the sport, won the American League West in 2003 with a record of 96-66. It was as if Bolton had won the Premiership (without spending any more money).
Now this isn’t a book review, and you’re probably wondering what I “learned from” Moneyball. You’re also probably wondering what the hell this has got to do with attracting women. Well check back for Part 2 for some fantastic applications when it comes to getting a girl to like you.