By Colonel Harland Sanders
Process over results every time. All. The. Time. Process is how you sustain success. Process is how you give yourself the best odds to avoid baseball being “stupid.” It’s how you become the horrible, awful, infuriating (if you’re not from St. Louis) Cardinals. This is not to say sabermetrics are always right. Actually nobody EVER says that except for people complaining about advanced stats who seem to rest their entire argument on that particular straw man. Advanced metrics simply improve your odds and give you a better chance.
The really crazy thing to me is that this isn’t specific to sports, but it seems to be the only place where people think it’s a bad thing. Let’s say you went to the doctor because you were sick and were given 2 options; a treatment that’s been around for 20 years that is supported by all of the research and gives you an excellent chance, or a medical technique that was popular in the 50’s but has since been shown to be flawed. Would anybody pick the treatment that gives them worse odds just because that’s how “old school” doctors would have done it? Of course not! And if for some reason, you did pick the statistically flawed and it worked…that doesn’t mean you made a smart decision, it means you got lucky.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am genuinely thrilled for Royals fans. They deserved this win!* but you know who didn’t deserve this win? Ned Yost. Dayton Moore. They made poor decisions and were rewarded with dumb luck. Their victory doesn’t change that.
*you know who DIDN’T deserve that heartbreaking loss? A’s fans. These people support a club that has been trying to leave town for years. It has a crap payroll. It has a dilapidated stadium. They have lost every do-or-die game they’ve played in this millennium (0-7). And they lost the Wild Card game LIKE THAT? In a season where they really went all in? Yuck.
Even a “genius” can make mistakes. Nikola Tesla made bizarre contraptions such as an earthquake machine and a death ray. Thomas Edison wanted to make entire houses out of concrete. Einstein said that the universe was eternal (apparently he thought the Big Bang Theory was hooey.)….and Billy Beane traded Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley.
At the time the trade seemed to make sense. The Athletics needed a big bat and they acquired one in Bradley. All they had to give up was their minor league player of the year and Texas League MVP in Andre Ethier. The trade worked fine for a while as Bradley helped the A’s get to the 2006 ALCS where they were eventually swept by the hated Detroit Tigers. Bradley, however must have forgotten to take his meds the next season as he became the violent schizophrenic that he had been in Los Angeles and was traded to the Padres after only 19 games (with cash…now THAT is desperation) for forgotten relief pitcher Andrew Brown.
Ethier, on the other hand became the poster boy of Los Angeles. He is one of the most beloved Dodgers to ever put on the uniform and will forever be seen as a heart-throb (right up there with Menudo!) to the female contingent of 20 and 30 somethings in the City of Angels. He is a two-time All Star, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Ethier also gave the Dodgers 145 career HR’s and 628 RBI’s, compared to Bradley’s 16 and 59 for the Athletics. Ethier is class–personified while Bradley is quite the opposite. The psycho burned every bridge in every city he played in until everyone finally gave up and he wasn’t re-signed after the 2011 season (he even took to wearing earplugs to drown out the heckling fans)….and it didn’t end there. Bradley was facing 13 years in prison for spousal abuse and even threatened to kill his wife on more than one occasion. Strangely enough, she died on September 14, 2013 of unknown causes. (this was swept under the rug…perhaps I might get a notice from a lawyer or 2 after this is posted.)
This was a trade of disastrous proportions and will probably go down in history as one of Mr. Beane’s worse, and to save subjective judgment is diametrically opposed to what “Moneyball” was supposed to be about in the first place. This is but the first installment of “The Billy Beane failure chronicles.”