Moneyball

How do you believe in something when every body else hates it ?. Can you trust yourself to ignore the entire world of experts in your field?

That is essentially the question that is analyzed in the movie Moneyball. Brad Pitt plays the general manager of Oakland Athletics, a baseball team that is at the bottom of the pile in league standings. His star players get traded to other teams frequently and he is severely underfunded to be able to hire good players. His job is under jeopardy and he is desperate to find a solution.

That is when he discovers Jonah Hill’s character, Peter, a geeky looking economics major from Yale who has mastered the Sabermetric analysis, which statistically quantifies the players performances in terms of qualities that have direct correlation to winning a game, such as getting bases, getting walks and so on. Using Sabermetric technique, Billy (Pitt) and Peter recognize that the most valuable players were being monetarily undervalued since almost all teams were using 19th century quantifiers like run hits and stolen bases to measure players. They realize that just for one tenth the price of the New York Mets, they can build a team that has higher probability of winning.

And they do, of course. In fact they put together a team produces the greatest winning streak in Baseball history – 20 consecutive wins.

The entire movie revolves around the kind of opposition one runs into when going against the grain. Billy gets crucified by everyone in the staff from scouts, field coaches, team owner, fans and the so called experts. Even though his strategy is math proof, his adversaries argue that conventional methods should not be challenged. They refuse to see and accept change dismissing him as some nut job who thinks he is bigger than the game itself.

Of course once he produces the result, the naysayers don’t give any credit. Some say he got lucky, while other say its an aberration that can be ignored.

I thought this would be just another sports movie –  the usual drama playing out on and off the field culminating in a final game that gloriously vindicates the good guys. But this movie was very different. Baseball pretty much takes the back seat. I could only see Billy’s struggle. He takes a major league of faith with Peter’s strategy and during the team’s poor start of the season, has serious bouts of self-doubt. Even after proving everyone wrong he is not sure of what he wants to achieve. He literally changed the game and he is not satisfied.

One of the best scenes of the movie is a playback from a game. A pot bellied batter runs to the first base, slips and falls and then scrambles to the plate with his stomach dragging on the ground, only to realize that he had cleared the field when he hit the ball moments ago. He had hit a home run, and he didn’t even know it.

I kept thinking about that scene on the drive back to my apartment. How many times have we done that in our lives? He must have felt that he was going through one of the most embarrassing moments of his life, simply because he did not lift his head up and look. We rarely give ourselves the credit for our accomplishments. We are quick to curse ourselves for our failures and think about our shortcomings, but we never recognize the struggle we put ourselves through to earn our achievements.

If only we would lift our heads up and look. We hit more home runs than we give ourselves credit for.

[Post: 115 of 365] [Days Missed: 47]
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