I am really looking forward to tomorrow night at midnight when I get to see the movie "Moneyball" on the big screen. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane was a colleague as well as a friend during my baseball career and I am so happy for not only his success, but the acknowledgment he’s receiving for his creativity, innovation and the courage he had to go against the “old school” and help introduce fans as well as some in the baseball world to a new way of analysis and doing business.
I was GM of the Cincinnati Reds when the book "Moneyball" was released in 2003. While the A's had been known within the industry for their use of statistics going back to when Sandy Alderson was their GM, "Moneyball" certainly increased the focus on that kind of analysis. Most clubs prefer to keep their internal statistical analysis private and don't open the curtain to reveal their method of team building. Beane decided to share his unique philosophies for the book, some of which have worked, others have not. But as he told me, it was the best thing that ever happened to his career. He now commands hefty fees for speaking engagements and was able to negotiate an ownership stake in the club as part of his last contract negotiation. That probably doesn't happen without the book. And while some baseball insiders will claim that the book's impact was overstated, there is no question it changed the baseball world.