After seeing Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, I read Michael Lewis’s 2003 book on which it was based. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but enjoy baseball above other sports. I followed the Indians during the fair-weather ’90’s and in childhood watched games on TV with my dad, a fond memory.
I have enough interest to follow (more or less) Lewis’s arguments about Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s. Beane is a disciple of the writer Bill James, who argued that statistics disprove much of baseball’s conventional wisdom. High salaries, stealing bases, and bunting, among other things, are questionable strategies. Baseball insiders, relying on what they think they know, resisted this reliance on numbers, and in some cases still do.
Moneyball was well reviewed and became a best seller. I enjoyed it very much (the movie, too). It’s generally highly regarded, but in an epilogue, Lewis writes about how he and his subjects have been vilified by many. Some people regard the book as an ego trip for Beane, even though he didn’t write it. They question the facts and the strategy and the argument.
This reminded me of how often members of my book group disagree. We’ve had energetic differences over The Kite Runner, The Man Who Loved Children, The Brothers Karamazov, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, to name a few. Some people will always like certain books and others will dislike them. Otherwise, there’s little point in having a book discussion group.
I’m finding comfort in this. If people dislike even excellent books like Moneyball, there’s hope for me. So, some agents and publishers have rejected my book (Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother–see the rest of this website). Other readers have found it helpful and interesting. It doesn’t have to appeal to everyone.