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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Billy Beane

Billy Beane I trekked across the state border tonight to see Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane speak at Indiana University Southeast. Beane had been invited to deliver the keynote address for the annual Sanders Speaker Series.

The format was interview style rather than lecture. Local writer and academic Marty Rosen (yes, Neal (if you ever read this space anymore), that Marty Rosen) sat next to Beane on stage and asked engaging questions for about an hour -- and then they opened it up to audience members.

Beane proved to be an entertaining and intelligent guest for this sort of event.

The questions were diverse, triggering Beane to reveal his favorite baseball films of all time (Pride of the Yankees, The Natural and Field of Dreams -- Beane is a self-described baseball romantic, at least as  a fan), his most memorable trading experiences as GM (the 1999 mid-season trades), his appreciation for Baseball Prospectus and their former employee Nate Silver, the influence of the 1993 Phillies offense on his baseball thinking, and the background story for this unusual convergence of thinkers. 

One member of the audience asked Beane what kind of statistical metrics teams were using "behind the scenes" that fans didn't know about. He replied by referencing an old SNL skit that he has likely noted on many similar occasions (paraphrasing). A reporter at a press briefing asks a U.S. military general: "Sir, what would be the one piece of information that would be most dangerous for the Iraqis to know?" 

Good stuff.

By the way, Beane pointed out that 2013 is the 10th anniversary of Moneyball. Devoted blog readers may remember my own take on Beane's early years.

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