MoneyballLast week I heard Michael Lewis talk about his book Moneyball, so I read it. The overall story is clearly that conventional wisdom is often proven wrong when you put the numbers to the test, but there are several underlying stories that I thought were equally important to a trader.

One is the story of Billy Beane, the A's coach. He himself was a top prospect who had all the right "tools" according to the scouts, but the way Lewis tells it, was too afraid of failure, too afraid to look stupid. This happens often to batters, even the best. Apparently going against the conventional wisdom applied only to the recruiting and the game not the mental aspect.

A second story, was how his anger managment, or lack of anger management, made fear into a death spiral. Michael, when asked what Billy thought of revealing his secrets, said he was more worried what his Mother would think. That he made him sound like he always used four-letter words, than that any of the others managers would read the book.

Their great winning record but lack a of World Series title or appearance, suggests that even in baseball, perhaps the most individual of team sports, anger and its cousin fear, made me ask myself had he ever applied the scientific method to his motivational coaching techniques. Count the tirades and count the players' response in the game. A good coach knows the way to improve is to focus on what you need to do right, not the last mistake.

The third, was how Billy recused many a seeming misfit, resucing many a poor boy whose future upon graduating after giving studies half his attention was otherwise very bleak.

The fourth is an intro to the writings of Bill James of Baseball Abstract, and the establishment's reaction to a counter. James's obsession with baseball stats, his ability to think for himself and his writing created a large following and an industry.


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