What You Should Know Before You Read "Moneyball"

D JnowContributor IApril 11, 2008

Love baseball? So did I. Now I understand it.

If you are a fan of the game then you have probably heard something about the book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game." The Michael Lewis book follows Billy Beane (the general manager of the Oakland Athletics) and his methods for evaluating baseball players.

Beane (through Michael Lewis) provides a very convincing argument that by using better statistics, you can field a better baseball team for less money. He highlights the best and worst indicators of baseball proficiency in players. 

Any person in the baseball industry who argues about the relative value of players has an obligation to read this book to be taken seriously by other serious baseball minds.

Knowing how to win a game is important to general mangers, managers and players.  But why is baseball important to you? One reason is that the game provides a sense of justice. We believe that righteous always win and the unfaithful always lose. We admire small undersized infielders as we admire the child of little means. 

In our society, just as anyone can grow up to be President, anyone can grow up to be Mark Lemke. If you follow these lessons in life you will be successful, just as if you follow them in baseball you will win. For the Gods have dictated:

The most important thing is to preform well in the clutch.

Sacrifices are one of the best ways you can help your team win.

Teamwork and chemistry are more important than statistics. 

Don't swing for the fences. 

You can't do anything if you don't get the bat off your shoulder. 

Effort, grit and determination will make up for physical shortcomings.

The only thing that matters are wins, losses and if you have a world series ring.   

What if every one of those things were true? Would you want to know? Is the life lesson more important than whether or not it is true in a baseball context?

Baseball is a multibillion dollar industry. The median salary of the major league baseball player recently cracked $3 million. Its general managers are paid enormous sums of money and their job is to provide their teams with the best opportunity of winning.

Your job is to enjoy the game.  

Baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. Reading Moneyball has made me more knowledgeable, but it has not made the game more fun. There are those who claim just the opposite—that reading Moneyball has enhanced not only their understanding but their enjoyment of the game. Like them, I desperately want this to be true. Honestly, I don't know if it is. 

If I could ban children from reading this book, I would. The ideas contained within are NC-17 baseball porn with graphic displays of truth. However if you are a mature adult, and after reading this you decide you'd still rather read the book do so at your own peril.  

If there were no God, would you want to know?  Is the comfortable illusion more valuable than the cold truth?  Magic tricks aren't as enchanting when you know how they are done. Cypher from The Matrix wished he had never taken the red pill. You can't un-know what you know.

Sometimes, I wish I could.