November 30, 2012

"Ballmoney"

Instead of having Brad Pitt play Billy Beane in Moneyball, I'd have Philip Seymour Hoffman play, uh, Jim Williams in Ballmoney, the tragic story of bearded, pudgy former boilerroom attendant at a canned bean factory who, through immense work, has slowly revolutionized how the smartest fans think about his beloved game. But then, after decades of labor as the ultimate outsider, his statistics start to show that something is going very wrong with the sport. Should he tell the world about the spreading corruption? Or should he keep his mouth shut and not ruin his chances to finally become an insider in the game that has been his life?

Final scene: victory parade for the hulking World Series winners and their acclaimed executive Jim Williams:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Steve. It's just baseball.

Ian said...

As a long time in-depth baseball fan, I gotta say, Steve, there are a lot of interesting things about it besides steroids.

I wonder if baseball is interesting to you, as it is to me, Bill James, Nate Silver, and many others, because it lends itself so easily to statistical analysis. Examining something as they do, from a distance and abstracted, does not necessarily entail wading into the moral complications the phenomenon has in real life. The statheads don't seem to give too much thought into investigating alcohol issues, marital problems, or the like that ballplayers may or may not suffer.

Also, American football is more opaque to numeric analysis, and has fewer statheads of the type you have been criticizing lately. It also has had much much more steroid use - and it, as far as I am aware, still has yet to face the matter.

sunbeam said...

Wow, you know this body type and ethnicity (going by the photo) is almost the de facto for long term RPG players.

That photo is like you are walking on the floor of Gencon.

You might want to call the guy a "neckbeard," that is the going phrase in the RPG community.

Mr. Anon said...

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

The whole world. Some find that a pretty compelling trade.

Bumbling American said...

I would cut James some slack on this. He has a lot more common sense than the current generation of number-crunchers, and he's definitely had learned more life lessons. (How many people at the SABR convention have ever been in the armed forces or done manual labor?) For all that, though, he has huge blind spots (such as defending Pete Rose in the face of all evidence) and will stick to unpopular opinions seemingly out of spite (such as dismissing Dick Allen's HOF credentials because he destroyed team chemistry).

Maybe he's more cunning and worldly than he looks, but to all appearances he likes coming up with out-of-the-box theories and defending them strenuously. So the '90s were about body armor and the inside pitch and laser eye surgery and whatever else.

In a way, his insights and credibility work against him here--he's come up with so many bright ideas it's impossible to think he didn't see the real cause of the boom in offense. But nobody bats 1.000.

James Kabala said...

I think one thing you're overlooking is that James and the entire sabermetric movement were built on being contrarian and going against conventional wisdom. That doesn't explain lack of articles in the nineties, but it does help explain the "No, really, middle infielders are the ones who used steroids!" articles of the type Silver apparently wrote even after the scandal broke into the mainstream.

James was previously known to claim there was no real proof that Pete Rose bet on baseball (and not from hero worship - he disliked Rose as a person and a player long before the gambling scandal). He more recently has argued that Joe Paterno acted properly in the Sandusky scandal. Unfortunately for James's fans, it has become clear that sometimes the conventional wisdom is actually right.

Anonymous said...

No, it isn't "just baseball", it is a microcosm and symbol of the idea of America.

Steve: great idea for a movie. All it needs is a Lady Macbeth character, but perhaps only if one existed in real life.

Risto

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "shut up loser" what a loser quote from Mr. Anon. With that lack of spirit I'm sure the world was never very interested in offering much for your soul. It is the cheap cynicism of the alt right more than its racism which is the real turn off. Judaism without the IQ.

That is leaving aside the fact that Sailer was quoting the aphroism ironically.

Norville Rogers said...

"Judaism without the IQ"--now that one made me laugh

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Speaking of "shut up loser" what a loser quote from Mr. Anon. With that lack of spirit I'm sure the world was never very interested in offering much for your soul. It is the cheap cynicism of the alt right more than its racism which is the real turn off. Judaism without the IQ."

I didn't say that I agreed with such nihilistic sentiments (I don't), merely that some people evidently do. There are people like that, are there not?

Anonymous said...

I sincerely apologize Mr. Anon. I took Steve's use of the aphorism to already be ironic so I took your quote to be extremely cynical. Even so my response was excessive.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sincerely apologize Mr. Anon. I took Steve's use of the aphorism to already be ironic so I took your quote to be extremely cynical. Even so my response was excessive."

Thanks for acknowledging my explanation, however no apology is needed on your part. You are right that cheap nihlistic cynicism is morally repugnant, and your response to it was not out of line. I've responded strongly to things other people have posted, having misunderstood their motives or meaning as well.

Best Regards

FredR said...

I always liked the quote from "A Man for All Seasons":

"Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales? "

Anonymous said...

Over at the Washington Post they are in a tizzy because the 10 1 Braves have left the Nationals with a 4 7 record.
While I might not expect all writers to understand sabremetics I would expect them to understand the basics.

Oh come on, Wapo. It's just baseball.