View Full Version : jim callis of baseball america on moneyball

07-26-2003, 01:55 PM
i found this very interesting.

I've written about Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" a lot this year, both in Ask BA and in the magazine. After watching "Rome Is Burning" Tuesday night on ESPN, I find myself coming back for more.

I haven't seen someone fold like that since Livan Hernandez took the mound in Game Seven of last year's World Series.

Lewis and BA columnist Tracy Ringolsby, who expressed his disdain for the book in a May column went toe to toe. When Ringolsby pressed Lewis on some of the book's inaccuracies (that the Athletics couldn't afford Jason Giambi, when the sides agreed on a $91 million deal that came apart because of a no-trade clause) or omissions (that the old scouting staff, which Lewis ridiculed, preferred Todd Helton to general manager Billy Beane's choice of Ariel Prieto with Oakland's 1995 first-round pick), Lewis couldn't do anything but call Ringolsby names. He called Ringolsby a midget and said that a lot of people who do their job a lot better than Ringolsby liked the book. His basic defense was to point to his reviews.

I'm not here to defend Tracy, who did that well enough on his own. But I'm sick of Lewis portraying Baseball America as having an old-school mentality. We may not crunch as many numbers as A's assistant GM Paul DePodesta, but we know how to read statistics and we incorporate them into our analysis. On the show, Lewis claimed that BA's publisher and editor called him to tell him "Moneyball" was the best baseball book ever and would the change the game. While our publisher, Lee Folger, and managing editor, Will Lingo, have spoken with Lewis, neither said that.

It's no big shock that Lewis would distort facts about BA, because he did that in "Moneyball." He wrote that we said Jeremy Brown would be lucky to get drafted in 2002, when we ranked him as one of the top prospects in the state of Alabama and commented: "Brown's body (5-foot-10, 208 pounds) isn't pretty, but he's the best catcher in the Southeastern Conference and could be at least a solid big league backup." And considering that the year before, the then tools-intensive Red Sox had drafted Brown in the 19th round, why would we think he wouldn't get picked again?

Lewis also writes that BA continually ripped on Brown's appearance through 2002, and that's just not the case. We had an organization report on him after Oakland took him 35th overall, because he was the most surprising first-round pick in the draft. The next time we wrote about him in any detail, we ranked him as the A's fourth-best prospect. So while Lewis continues to extol the virtues of Brown, he needs to get it out of his head that we bear a grudge against his favorite prospect. He also needs a dose of perspective, as Lewis compared Brown to Jackie Robinson in one interview because both were victims of prejudice based on their physical appearance.

I enjoyed a lot of "Moneyball", in particular the inside look at how the A's went about the 2002 draft, and the in-depth background on Beane, Chad Bradford and Scott Hatteberg. And while it's a best-seller, that doesn't make its flaws any less annoying. I just wish Lewis hadn't distorted or ignored facts when they didn't point to the conclusions that he wanted to draw.

07-26-2003, 03:03 PM
it's true. lewis didn't address a single one of ringolsby's points...just pointed out that his book got good reviews.