The hot baseball book of the spring is clearly “Moneyball, The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” Michael Lewis’ study of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. Christian Ruzich, The Cub Reporter and Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus received reviewer’s copies and are enjoying the book immensely, and quite frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on it too. The New York Times Magazine published an excerpt from the book last month, and Billy Beane comes across as a charming, slick, and danergous operator—like a shark from a David Mamet play. (Kevin Spacey should play him in the movie version).
Joel Sherman has a column on the book today in the New York Post. Needless to say, former Oakland skipper, and current Mets manager Art Howe, who was famously at odds with Beane, is not portrayed in a favorable light. Howe refused to comment on the book, but as Sherman reports:
Yesterday before his team was swept by Arizona while setting a double-header record with 27 strikeouts and committing an error at every position except third base, Howe described this discouraging first month of boos and boots as a “piece of cake compared to what I’ve been through in the past.” When asked later if that meant his time under Beane, Howe would only say, “I had my moments.”
As depicted in “Moneyball,” the A’s would not have been all that different if managed by a cardboard cutout of Howe. Unlike other GMs, Beane dictated (among other things) lineups, bullpen usage and strategy – specifically no steals or sacrifices. Howe would confirm with players who stole on their own that it was indeed their decision, so Beane would be furious with them and not him. Most unflattering of all was that Beane even ordered where and how Howe stood in the dugout – on the top step with his chin raised to project leadership to his players below, though Howe preferred to sit on the bench.
Considering the way the Mets played yesterday, Howe could have used cardboard cutouts of his players which may have at least cut down on all the errors.