When data guys triumph

Cade Massey and Bob Tedeschi for The New York Times on the book, now turned movie, “Moneyball” and how it’s made data-backed thinking sound less crazy:

At its heart, of course, “Moneyball” isn’t about baseball. It’s not even about statistics. Rather, it’s about challenging conventional wisdom with data. By embedding this lesson in the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, the book has lured millions of readers into the realm of the geek. Along the way, it converted many into empirical evangelists.

Good. Sure makes my life a lot easier.

Is the movie worth the 2 hours and 10 bucks in the theatre? The movie seems right up my alley, but for some reason the previews left me disinterested.

[New York Times via @alexlundry]


  • It’s also just a damn good story. I enjoyed the movie even having read the book. Go for it.

  • Definitely go see it. I’ve read the book, love sabermetrics going back to Bill James’s work in the ’80s, and love baseball, so it was right in my wheelhouse. Even so: The story is well-told, with more of a character-based focus than the book. The script is (in part) by Aaron Sorkin. I generally prefer Brad Pitt in a supporting role, but he’s really good. And you get a good sense of the stats revolution that Billy Beane started in MLB front offices.

  • I wish movies were only $10. Up to $13 here in NYC.

  • I’m not a movie-going person and I went to see this film. Granted, if you look at baseball history, you know what happens and you might be more interested in the actual book on calculating baseball statistics.

    However, I would see moneyball again. The story is interesting, but they don’t dive into actually talking about how they use statistics. There is a montage but nothing that goes beyond the word “aggregate”.

  • Poor Richard October 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Perhaps the Times should do a follow-up article entitled, “When data guys fail. Massively.”?
    I heard a recent interview with Micheal Lewis, the author of Moneyball, and one of the questions to Lewis
    revolved around the topic of how the same data geeks who brought data analysis to the world of baseball
    were some of the same analysts who helped crash the stock market. (Lewis’ current book is “The Big Short”). While understanding data is indispensable, acting on it without wisdom is all the more dangerous.