Moneyball

Moneyball is dead. Long live Moneyball.

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Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than when something bad happens with the A’s and some clever wag — often a print sports journalist who still bases his Cy Young vote on wins — makes some crack about “well, I guess “Moneyball” isn’t helping anymore, huh?” This is usually followed by chuckling, snorting and picking up the Andy Rooney book he had been reading, highlighter in hand.

The response to this, which has been obvious to anyone who actually read the book for several years, is that “Moneyball,” is not a synonym for “whatever Billy Beane is doing,” nor is it shorthand for “take walks, hit dingers.”  Rather, it was a book that described the idea of finding market inefficiencies — which is something its author, the financial market experienced Michael Lewis, was exceedingly familiar — and applying it to baseball.

Anyone could do it, and for the past decade, everyone has been doing it.  And, not soon after “Moneyball” was published, the idea of “take walks, hit dingers” ceased to be a market inefficiency because the very definition of a market inefficiency is something which has not been widely published in a best-selling book. By then it has become big bright information which, as everyone knows, is immediately gobbled up by the markets as soon as it is made big and bright. Which, by the way, is why you should never take your investing advice from books you can buy at the airport, but that’s another subject.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t still market inefficiencies. There always will be because markets aren’t perfect and, at any given time, there will be ways in which the savvy can exploit those concepts which can’t be found in best-selling books.

I hadn’t read it until today, but Bill Barnwell tackled that topic over at Grantland last week. And, after making a longer and better argument out of the concept I mentioned above, set out to describe the many areas — aside from “take walks, hit dingers” —  that teams are or should be trying to exploit.  Like defense and bullpen usage and that sort of thing.

It’s a good piece if you have the time. But if you don’t have the time, at least enjoy this little nugget that would have been Quote of the Day fodder had I not wanted to write a little more:

Moneyball was about statistics and on-base percentage in the same way that the ‘77 punk revolution was about looking like Richard Hell; what was relevant and counterculture then is mainstream and comfortable now. Babies get mohawks now, and they come out of the womb knowing that Jeff Francoeur sucks. So what’s a small-market team to do now? Where are the market inefficiencies for them to exploit in 2011? What’s the new Moneyball?

Once again, Richard Hell shows us the way.  So forget that [blank] generation that likes to make the dumb and easy “Moneyball” jokes. They’re going, going gone.

A-Rod to host a reality show featuring broke ex-athletes

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees answers question in a press conference after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Alex Rodriguez’s transition into retirement has featured a serious move into the business world. He has gone back to school, worked seriously on investments and has started his own corporation. Yes, he’s set for life after making more money than any baseball player in history, but even if his bank account wasn’t fat, you get the sense that he’d be OK given what we’ve seen of his work ethic and savvy in recent years.

He’s going to be getting another paycheck soon, though. For hosting a reality show featuring athletes who are not in as good a financial shape as A-Rod is:

Interesting. Hopefully, like so many other reality shows featuring the formerly rich and famous, this one is not exploitative. Not gonna hold my breath because that’s what that genre is all about, unfortunately, but here’s hoping A-Rod can help some folks with this.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.