As the Brad Pitt movie version arrives in theaters, GQ contributor and Deadspin gumshoe extraordinaire Tommy Craggs explains why Michael Lewis’s bestseller is the most misread sports book in a generation. A sample below. Read the full case here.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly: Moneyball was not a book about nerds and statistics and butterball catchers who do nothing but walk—not really. It was a book about the temporarily misperceived value of nerds and statistics and butterball catchers who do nothing but walk and, above all, about how to profit off that misperception. Which is to say that, at bottom, Moneyball was a book about a charismatic visionary (Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane) who achieved success by exploiting market inefficiencies. This is a conceit known as Every Business Book Ever. The guy sitting next to you on an airplane is reading a book like that. Malcolm Gladwell farts books like that. Moneyball told a simple story and told it wonderfully, but baseball being what it is—a game so thoroughly wrapped in its own bullshit that you’d need a grand jury to find its soul—the book was received as heresy.