By Joshua Madden
I am hardly the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to baseball. I’m also not the world’s greatest statistical analyst. So, knowing that it’s all about baseball statistics, why would I possibly want to read Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game”?
There’s an easy answer to that question: it’s excellent. I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Lewis wrote a book that was fascinating to even me, who arguably was the furthest thing possible from his target audience.
The book follows Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, as he struggles to make his relatively poor team be competitive with teams that have payrolls many times larger than that of the A’s.
The book explores the development of what have come to be called sabermetrics — essentially applied baseball statistics — and how people like Beane are using them to win games, despite the fact that the establishment still doesn’t really like them very much.
No matter how I try to summarize the book, it doesn’t do it justice. It’s not just a book about baseball statistics, but it’s not a biography of Beane either. Lewis somehow took what could have been an incredibly mundane topic and made it to something great.
As a work of nonfiction, it’s hard to call “Moneyball” a true work of art, but there’s also no other way to describe it. It is a stunning literary achievement on Lewis’ part.
Given that Brad Pitt has brought out “Moneyball” fever by starring in the film, now is as good of a time as any to read the book. Don’t strike out and skip this one.
Reviews in the Lariat represent only the viewpoint of the reviewer and not necessarily those of the rest of the staff.