It’s no secret that I’m an Oakland Athletics fan. Through thick and thin I’m always trying to follow the vision of Billy Beane. One of the reasons that I’m still head over heels for Green and Gold is that I became an Oakland fan in 2002. The 2002 Oakland Athlectics were something out of a Greek drama. That underdog team from the West coast that nobody cared about, that nobody believed in, went on to do something that changed baseball. In 2002 that scraggly team won 20 consecutive wins across the country. They took on the Angels, the Red Sox, and even the Yankees in stride. They had been pushed around for so long by these teams, having their best players regularly plucked up by the titans of baseball. For decades the Oakland Athletics have been seen as a mere training ground to develop the talent that you would later see hit it big on East coast teams. And the A’s couldn’t do anything about it; they didn’t have the big budgets of their rivals, and Oakland leaves a lot to be desired against cities like New York and Boston.
But the A’s have always had Billy Beane to rely on. With the help of analytics he made the best team possible; the team that would capture America’s heart. He redesigned baseball and player scouting forever. The work that he did to rebuild the Athletics from the ground up became an Oscar nominated movie. Moneyball is frankly Brad Pitt’s best work, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood just can’t compete.
You may be wondering, “why does this matter?”. The Oakland Athletics didn’t win the World Series that year, they didn’t even go to the World Series that year. The A’s haven’t won a World Series since 1989. They did extraordinarily well during the mid 70’s and one could make the strong argument that this is the time frame that is best to celebrate the team. But, it’s more than that. In 2002 the Oakland Athletics contributed more to baseball than winning the coveted series. The Athletics proved that success in baseball could be quantified, and quantified in a new way.
Take what they did to Scott Hatteberg during that season. Hatteberg had spent his entire baseball career as a catcher, and a really phenomenal one at that. But the A’s didn’t see a catcher in him, they saw a potential first baseman that had a truly remarkable talent for getting runs. The A’s convinced this man who had spent over a decade behind home base to move to first, and it worked! A man deeply terrified of playing first base was able to find unbelievable success playing it.
And that’s what Moneyball is all about, pushing yourself to thinking differently and finding value where you don’t expect it. Even if you’re not an Athletics fan, or a baseball fan at all, there is still a lot to take from this experience of triumph.