Moneyball and What Makes People “Go Batshit Crazy”

I watched Moneyball last night. I read Michael Lewis’s book several years, and it’s still one of the best sports books I’ve ever read. I thought the movie wouldn’t have anything new to offer. Boy, was I wrong.

You don’t need to know about OBP, WHIP, or OPS to get caught up in this drama. Moneyball is a classic underdog story that just happens to have baseball as its backdrop. There are too many excellent quotes in the film, but I wanted to highlight just one. It happens near the end of the movie, when Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland A’s, travels to Boston. While at Fenway Park, Beane is propositioned by John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox. Here’s what Henry tells Beane:

For forty-one million, you built a playoff team. You lost Damon, Giambi, Isringhausen, Pena and you won more games without them than you did with them. You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go batshit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. 

That’s what I call a money quote.

“Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You”

In a 2007 episode of the Charlie Rose show, Rose was interviewing the actor and comedian Steve Martin about his memoir Born Standing Up. They talked about the realities of Martin’s rise. In the last five minutes of the interview, Rose asks Martin his advice for aspiring performers. Steve Martin said:

Nobody ever takes note of [my advice], because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’ . . . but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ 

Cal Newport has a great piece in Lifehacker today in which we get a sample of his recently released book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. When you’re done reading the excerpt, check out my post summarizing Cal Newport’s speech on career advice at this year’s World Domination Summit.

Ray Bradbury on Optimism

INTERVIEWER: How important has your sense of optimism been to your career?

BRADBURY: I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother’s table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference? Action is hope.

At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.

That’s from this fantastic Paris Review interview.

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(via Swiss Miss & explore)

Nora Ephron on Reading

Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.

That’s Nora Ephron writing in I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. She died last night at the age of 71 in Manhattan.

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(via Brain Pickings)