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Bench Talk / Off The Wire



By Fred Wallace


Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".

Once in the window of a book store I saw a sign that said, " Don't Judge A Book By Its Movie. "

I laughed, but I've always remembered that slogan and adage

Sitting around the pool at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in the Spring, part of my reading material this year was " Moneyball; The Art of Winning An Unfair Game " by Michael Lewis.

I've seen the movie starring Brad Pitt in the role of Billy Beane at least 20 times- it's a great movie.

The book ? Mostly better.

I say " mostly better " because I found the chapter devoted to Bill James and sabermetrics to be tedious reading.

Yet in fairness, to understand Billy Beane, to understand the turn of the century Oakland A's and to understand Major League Baseball circa 2002, a history and working knowledge of the analytics is required.

After that, the book is excellent, in fact vastly better at giving you insight into what truly personally motivated Billy Beane as General Manager of the A's. You got a glimpse in the movie, the book gave you far more depth.

I'd also say the movie is fairly true to the book, although there is a clear Hollywood licence during the A's 20 game win streak.

In the movie, Billy Beane is heading to a Minor League game as the A's attempt to win their 20th straight game and dramatically wheels his truck around a cloverleaf and heads back to Oakland for the climatic game against Kansas City.

According to the book, there was no such drama. Beane, agitated and WANTING to go to Visalia to see the Minor League Oaks, was in fact anchored in Oakland by the PR department who felt it would be better for business that Beane be available on a potentially historic night.

Otherwise, you can judge " Moneyball " the book by " Moneyball " the movie and vice versa.

I'm Fred Wallace


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