Okay, so not really... writers shouldn't really be baseball players, that is. At least, I shouldn't. I suck at baseball. I know; my dad used to make me play softball when I was in high school on the church team when they didn't have enough players to be a team. They would make me catcher, because the catcher doesn't really need to do anything in softball. That, or they would stick me out in right field, because the ball might come that way twice in a game. It was his fault I was no good, anyway, but that's a different story.
But back to Moneyball... Oh, wait, we weren't talking about that, yet, were we? Well, in that case, on to Moneyball!
As you might have figured out, I recently watched it. Yes, Moneyball! What do you think I'm talking about here? >sheesh!< Anyway...
Moneyball is really excellent. Brad Pitt is excellent. Jonah Hill is excellent. Surprisingly so, actually. As it turns out, he can actually act. I hope to see more of him in serious roles like this one. Beyond the fact that the movie is just good, it's very interesting. In case you don't know:
Moneyball is based on the book about Billy Beane's revolutionary approach to building his 2002 Oakland A's team. Faced with a lack of funds and having just lost his best players to richer teams, Beane knew that a new approach was necessary. The story is fascinating.
But I don't really want to talk about it, because you can go watch it. And, if you're a writer, you should go watch it. And, if you're a writer and you've seen it and you didn't see the parallels to the publishing industry, you need to go watch it again. I will say this much about it, though:
There is a scene early on in which Beane is sitting in a room full of scouts, and they're discussing options on whom to replace their lost players with. There are comments like:
"This guy looks good."
"But he can't play <whatever position> well."
"But he looks good. The fans will love him."
"His girlfriend is ugly."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"It means he lacks confidence."
"But he's a great player."
"His girlfriend is ugly."
And it went on and on and, mostly, the scouts never talked about the abilities of the players. They wanted stars, not good players.
And I couldn't stop thinking of literary agents. They want stars, and the writing doesn't matter at all.
In the end, Beane built the team based on the statistics without regard to the externals of the player.
Too old? Does he get on base? Yes. Take him.
Looks funny. Does he get on base? Yes. Take him.
He looked at the ability of the players. Their ability to perform. That was #1. Not just #1; it was the only thing.
The whole thing had a rocky beginning. The coach wouldn't get in line with what Beane was trying to do. They lost a lot of games. A lot. Even Beane didn't know if he was doing the right thing. It felt right, I guess, but it was a... it was a giant mess.
Then... it started working, and they won a record streak of games. 20 in a row. But, now, I'm talking about the movie, and that's not really the point.
The point is that it was hard. There were rough spots. Everyone ridiculed him. Everyone. And, in the end, they tried to say what he did failed. But today? Virtually every team in baseball has someone on staff that does what Beane did. In the end, sports is about money, and winning means money, so the owners of the teams want to win, so they went where the money is.
Publishers should take a look at that and start trying to go where the money is instead of spending their time talking about how bad self-publishing is and how bad e-publishing is and how bad Amazon is. Bookstores, too. I'll leave you with this quote; you can figure out how it relates (all emphasis is mine):
"You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees
spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty
thousand. I know you've taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy
through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It's the threat of not just the
way of doing business, but in their minds it's threatening the game. But really
what it's threatening is their livelihoods, it's threatening their jobs, it's
threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether
it's the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are
holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I
mean, anybody who's not building a team right and rebuilding it using your
model, they're dinosaurs."