“My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs,” A’s GM Billy Beane (above) once famously told Mr. Tabitha Soren, but in the considered view of Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, it isn’t working too well in the regular season, either. 4 years-going-on-5 removed from postseason action and all but inactive at the trade deadline, Oakland will see their earlier econo-success depicted on the silver screen in the upcoming “Moneyball” adaptation, a film Verducci calls, “such a period piece it might as well have cast Helen Mirren or deployed the Ken Burns Effect on sepia-tinged photographs.”
As Beane’s “advantage” became neutralized by the availability of information — and now the herd mentality of overvaluing young players — Oakland did not find the next so-called “market inefficiency.” Worse, the Athletics whiffed in two emergent areas where ballclubs could carve out propriety advantages: “prehabilitation” (the nexus of medical and baseball information; identifying and reducing injury risks) and — this is the real Moneyball story — stadium revenue.
While most every other club leveraged their major league status for new and revamped ballparks and sweetheart deals, Oakland and Tampa Bay remain disadvantaged by playing in outdated ballparks — though Oakland is the only one that does so while sharing a market with a team that showcases a gem of a ballpark of its own. The Athletics, waiting and waiting for Bud Selig to broker a deal to allow them to bolt for San Jose and its money, operate as if assigned to the “Jail” corner of a Monopoly board.
“The biggest problem we have is that until we get a stadium it’s going to be treading water for us,” Beane said. “There cannot be any long-term planning. It’s likely to get worse before it gets any better. It’s going to be more than challenging.”
Things are so bad in Oakland when it comes to attracting players that Beane has taken to hyping the team’s groundskeepers; that Oakland plays on one of the best-groomed fields in baseball. Alas, even that advantage only goes so far. When Beane presented his sales pitch to one free agent in recent years, the player responded, “Yeah — until the Raiders start playing on it in August.”