12.5 million dollars offered to Billy Beane to become GM of the Boston Red Sox. 100 times the amount a young Billy Beane accepted under the stress of a moment, when the New York Mets offered the 5-tool player to chose Baseball for life. Billy Beane turned down the 12.5 million dollars to remain with The Oakland A’s. These seem to be facts. Other disputable facts have been discussed incessantly since the release of the FICTONAL portrayal of the NON-FICTON book, Moneyball.
But what makes its way into the story, reminding us of Field of Dreams, a VARIATION on an extrapolation, Shoeless Joe, on a FICTON short story, originally written by W. P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa, is the relationship between a father and his daughter. The details are not important. What we learn from and reflect on can help us prioritize our parenting lives to launch our young-adults into the World, ready to discover and fend for themselves.
But, we may ensure they will call or visit us when time permits.
The story of girls and women in baseball seems, primarily, about the relationship between fathers and daughters. I mean no disrespect to the women who are tirelessly supportive of their children, husbands. There is no way either of my children had the opportunity to excel without the tireless support and impact of their mother; my wife helping me to get through the difficult moments each child faces, confirming I am not entirely a looser.
In the case of the movies Moneyball and Field of Dreams the father receives validation and support from the daughter allowing fathers to (continue) living their own Dreams seemingly at the expense of doing everything the father can do in supporting his family and daughter. Again, no disrespect to fathers who are entirely supportive of their families and daughters: those who prefer playing baseball, in this case. No, you are not aloof if you take your daughter across the Earth to play in the next tournament.
Recent pundits and seuthsayers in sports media suggest that, despite the 10 years that Billy Beane has had to reconcile turning down the offer from the Boston Red Sox he is considering the position of GM with the Chicago Cubs: because it places Billy geographically closer to where his daughter is attending college.
After watching the second half of the Oakland A’s 2011 season, with the introduction and stabilizing effect of Bob Melvin, as now not-interim Manager, I get why Billy Beane chose to remain in Oakland.
As the Red Sox mysteriously and magnificently (not meant to be pejorative) nose-dived in the month of September, during the release of Moneyball; CEO Theo Epstein‘s job secure; Mr. Francona losing his as he quickly, in one motion from observing Carl Crawford, earning 14 million dollars for his 2011 season, the largest salary ever paid a Left Fielder, failing to catch the fly ball, Francona left the dugout at Camden Yards with no negative celebration:
it became entirely clear WHY Billy Beane did not take the money, the second time around…
It is difficult to describe the attitude of the Oakland A’s right now, the players, the Managers. Yes, they are betting that MLB and the Giants will acquiesce and allow the A’s entry into the Giant’s territory in the San Jose basin, to build a new stadium JUST for Baseball.
Yes: their current owner is committed to building a new A’s in their new stadium, in a market which, he is betting, will support a singular base of support of fans. Beane has stated in recent interviews that he is committed to a new stadium, a new generation, one that may be sustainable, naturally, significantly improving fiscally, to allow a resurgent franchise:
If you build it [they] will come…
But that spectrum of thought, of what it takes to build on the legacy is independent of the two other elements of the Zen of Billy Beane, a phrase, I hope, I just coined and am not in violation of any copyright in using it, here, hopefully, for the first time.
I was speaking with a friend (who played baseball into college; who’s father, uncles played incessantly into adulthood; the father of a daughter who used to play baseball, in the same Little League as my own daughter, until his daughter’s dancing career took off. She wanted to continue playing baseball but it was a time management issue – she tried to re-enter The Show, but her schedule, confidence prevented her from pursuing an idle dream,) about Billy Beane yesterday, as we were attending the Not Stricktly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We were listening to one of the women-centric acts of the festival, The Belle Brigade, appropriately.
A defense attorney by profession, it is usually difficult to take my friend down in an argument. But, invoke the word Zen and all bets are off.
My friend was critical of Beane’s tendency to break up the A’s once they have come together, each year, selling the greater prospects to other wealthier teams, even though to obtain greater, long-term value in younger or under-the-radar players, or players to be named later. My friend preferred the ideal, when the players, the organization stays together, building on continuity, team, allowing players to gel, season to season, releasing players in a way, at times, that don’t impact the going when it is good.
I explained that Beane (from the claim made by the Brad Pitt character in the movie Moneyball) is the only GM in Baseball who is a former player. So, from a supportive position: if the GM builds a player from a kid to a solid, skilled professional, and is responsible for enriching that player’s personal career and wealth: isn’t’ that the preferred outcome?
Another very Zen perspective that Pitt articulates: as we observe, Beane cannot be on the field during an actual game. Either he stays in the clubhouse or is on the road, intentionally, avoiding the possibility of changing the outcome.
But, despite that attempt at hedging the preferred positive outcome of a given game, Beane takes wins and losses as full-on personal, emotional, psychological experiences, owning each 100%.
This is independent of the more superficial ending in a win or a loss. Even if the A’s are in the playoffs; in the World Series: if they lose it won’t matter if they were ahead in the game in runs; in the series by games: even, right up until the point of the loss.
But if everyone does their part, playing their position, as positive, supportive team mates; delivering all that is expected of them: that is about all that can be asked of the men playing on the A’s, [any player on any team in any sport or competitive situation.]
Bringing it home:
What does this have to do with Billy Beane and his daughter; the Zen of Billy Beane?
Billy has to be able to look into his daughter’s eyes and convince her that he is doing the right thing, that it is all worth it: in terms of character, doing right by the people in our lives, supporting our Community, making the World a better place, with the limited resources we have each been endowed with to do so.
Otherwise, if it was just about the money: the Red Sox would likely still be in the post season, as they would have each year from 2003 and beyond: like clockwork, with all do respect to Theo Epstein and his SABRmetric geek(s) – or would they have been…?
The 2011 postseason
speaks volumes to the paradox and balance point between moneyball (or SABRmetrics) and traditional scouting practices as portrayed in Moneyball, the movie.
It seems most teams have come around to embracing SABRmetrics as a component of scouting and managing, along with the instincts of experienced players and managers; scouts and players.
What Billy Beane clarified in a recent interview: all that SABRmetrics consists of is greater depth and breadth; diversity and more elaborate, complex and detailed scouting reports, beyond the player’s pretty face or that of his girlfriend; a facet of the chaotic and random value system parodied in Moneyball the movie.
Beane’s greatest contribution has been to offer a way out of a chaotic mess, some created by apathy; by arrogance; by violating biological physics norms; by hubris; by greed.
Baseball can be a pure event happening on green grass and brown earth; under blue or tormented skies; it can be accepted for what it seems to become, over the course of a few hours, not what we want it to be.
It can be a coming together of a mix of supreme and mediocre athletes conscious of their impact on one another; their moral impact on and contract with the young people they influence, each team demonstrating a mutual respect for their opponents, on the field, able to celebrate with each other, off of the field.
At what point in one’s baseball career does the end-of-the-game high-5 only include the luckier, winning team on the field and not both pools of passion, talent and commitment?