The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
W. W. Norton
On Sale: April 1, 2004
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"One of the best baseball-and management-books
out....Deserves a place in the Baseball Hall of
Moneyball is a quest for the
secret of success in baseball. Following the low-budget
Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger,
Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball
enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only "the single
most influential baseball book ever" (Rob Neyer,
Slate) but also what "may be the best book ever
written on business" (Weekly Standard).
this book because I fell in love with a story. The story
concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball
players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as
unfit for the big leagues, who had turned themselves into
one of the most successful franchises in Major League
Baseball. But the idea for the book came well before I had
good reason to write it-before I had a story to fall in love
with. It began, really, with an innocent question: how did
one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics,
win so many games?
With these words Michael Lewis
launches us into the funniest, smartest, and most contrarian
book since, well, since Liar's Poker. Moneyball is a
quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something
that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in
baseball. The logical places to look would be the front
offices of major league teams, and the dugouts, perhaps even
in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all
these possibilities-his intimate and original portraits of
big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of
admission-but the real jackpot is a cache of
numbers-numbers!-collected over the years by a strange
brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software
engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers and
What these geek numbers show-no,
prove-is that the traditional yardsticks of success for
players and teams are fatally flawed. Even the box score
misleads us by ignoring the crucial importance of the humble
base-on-balls. This information has been around for years,
and nobody inside Major League Baseball paid it any mind.
And then came Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland
Billy paid attention to those numbers -with
the second lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he
had to-and this book records his astonishing
experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else
wanted. Moneyball is a roller coaster ride: before
the 2002 season opens, Oakland must relinquish its three
most prominent (and expensive) players, is written off by
just about everyone, and then comes roaring back to
challenge the American League record for consecutive wins.
In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant
excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis shows us how
and why the new baseball knowledge works. He also sets up a
sly and hilarious morality tale: Big Money, like Goliath, is
always supposed to win...how can we not cheer for David?
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