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10 Life Lessons I Learned From ‘Moneyball’

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Calling Moneyball a movie about advanced sabermetrics is like describing The Social Network as a flick about computer programming. You’re totally missing the point. I’m all on board applying everyday life usage to the Gospel of Billy Beane, as passed to us by his prophet, Brad Pitt, as written by genius dialogist, Aaron Sorkin. Jonah Hill, I suppose, is the fat televangelist.

1) “You may not look like a winning ball team. But you are one.”

The Moneyball A’s were a self-described island of misfit toys. From the side-arm pitcher Chad Bradford to Scott “I can’t feel my fingers in my throwing hand” Hatteberg, Beane’s perfect clubhouse was a mixture of guys who’d been written off by the rest of the world, but Billy alone saw the value in those gems. Billy risked everything by trusting his gut regarding what he looked for in a team, and how to help them realize their inner greatness. Just gotta try to remember that, to other people who’ve long been written off and set in their ways, your unconditional faith in someone or something can be mistaken for mockery of the game.

2) “I don’t think we’re asking the right question. I think the question we’re supposed to be asking now is, do you believe in what we’re doing or not?”

Once you stop believing in yourself, you stop believing in everything, and magic like 20-game winning streaks can never happen. Even if you blow an 11-run lead against the 2002 Kansas City Royals, don’t stop believing.

3) “We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.”

Sooner or later, David Justice was gonna have to step out of that batter’s cage for good. When that time comes and old golf injuries have left you unable to table dance to “We Got The Funk,” it’s okay to accept, and even embrace, your new veteran role in life as a leader for the rookies. It happens to all of us.

4) “You can’t start Pena. He plays for Detroit now.”

Real power move by Billy asserting dominance over the skipper. The old man wouldn’t budge his lineup card, so Billy traded his All-Star rookie to the Tigers for a three-year supply of cola, and in doing so, Billy had so much hand it was coming out of his glove.

5) “When you get the answer you’re looking for, hang up.”

Much like my sex life, once you get what you want, keep it quick and to the point. Prying can only burn you down the road.

6) “How come your boss doesn’t travel with the team? Makes us easier to cut?”

At the center of the Moneyball universe is the struggle between emotion and analysis. It’s a civil war between the right and left brain lobes. We try our hardest never to think emotionally, but that can be impossible when frustrations and passions boil over. That’s why God made airplane mode, and stops selling whiskey after 2am.

7) “You’re not gonna replace Damon, so stop looking for Damon.”

One of the great scenes in the film is Billy juggling phone calls trying to underhand the buyer’s market for a guy he was aiming for. If you sense your million dollar man is slipping away, you always need a plan of attack. Either make one last-ditch effort to extend the contract, or start planning your waiver wire moves. Everyone’s replaceable. After all, all we’re looking at is On-Base Percentage.

8) “You make a decision on what you see and things don’t pan out, you move on. That’s baseball.”

Funny paradox in baseball is how it’s a gigantic sample size of tiny moments, each dependent on the flick of a wrist. There’s always another pitch leaving the mound in a heartbeat. There’s two ways of handling that realization: use a strike as motivation to work on it, or walk out of the batter’s box for good and try another game. Or if you’re Jon Lester, option C is grill some chicken.

9) “So you’re not going to Boston?”

Beane got an offer to become the highest paid GM in American sports, and turned it down to stay with Oakland. Idiot? Maybe. I mean, the Coliseum’s a dump. But in this job-chasing and ADD-filled era, now more than ever, loyalty is the ultimate mirror of one’s character.

10) “How can anybody not be romantic about baseball?”

At the end of the day, the game’s about fun. Sure the 162-game schedule can be a grind, but it’s the memories and stories in between that stretch that really make it the American pastime. That, and the steroids. It wouldn’t be American without pharmaceutical abuse and fraud. Again, I ask you, “How can anybody not be romantic about baseball?”

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J Parks Caldwell

J. Parks Caldwell makes jokes to hide the fact that he's upset, because that's what children of divorce do.

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