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Moneyball, Part 2: The Cliché Comes To Life
2006-09-03 23:59
by Ken Arneson

Moneyball is a raincloud, and A's bloggers are Eeyore. The book follows you where ever you go. It's difficult to come up with an interesting angle on the A's that hasn't been covered by Moneyball, or by the seven hundred billion gazillion essays about Moneyball that followed Moneyball. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can manage to scrounge up a few sticks, lean them up against each other like a tent, and crawl under. It's better than nothing, but you still get wet.

Even more annoying than Moneyball and essays about Moneyball, are discussions about essays about Moneyball. There exists a sort of Moneyball corollary to Godwin's Law. Whenever there's an online discussion about the A's, someone will inevitably bring up Moneyball. Which is fine, until someone else inevitably feels compelled to say, "They missed the whole point of the book!" Nothing follows from that point but the beating of dead horses.

Of course, by discussing this, I have now written an essay about discussions about essays about Moneyball. And when you enter your comments below...

In other words, Moneyball has become cliché. There's nothing left to add to it, except to start making jokes. As Mark Liberman at Language Log wrote about my Eskimo-word-for-slump joke, "stereotyped rhetoric repeats itself, first as cliché, then as irony."

* * *

So what then, are we to make of poor Jeremy Brown, Moneyball's "fat catcher", the very personification of the philosophical difference between stats and scouts? Can we even look at him as being anything beyond the stereotype? Can the Jeremy Brown the human being transcend Jeremy Brown the cliché?

I was beginning to think that Ken Macha might have taken the scouts' side of the argument. The A's had called up Brown to the majors three times earlier this year, and they called him up again on September 1, but Macha had not once seen fit to get Brown into a game. Of course, when Jason Kendall is your first catcher, your second catcher isn't going see much playing time, let alone your third. But c'mon, give the dude one AB!

I went to the A's-Orioles game today with my family. When the A's scored nine runs in the first inning, I turned to my wife and said, "If Jeremy Brown doesn't get into this game, it just ain't right."

But it just was right. I got to witness a truly magical moment. A wooden character came to life, before my very own eyes. It was like being right there, in the room, when Pinocchio shed his strings and became a real boy.

And now I shall be your Walt Disney, and bring this magic moment to you, for your viewing pleasure. Please enjoy the slideshow below.

Slideshow: Jeremy Brown's First Major League Game

Previous Image  |  Next Image

The first sign we had that something might happen was when they actually let Jeremy Brown onto the field in the eighth inning. He got to warm up Esteban Loaiza, while Adam Melhuse got his gear on.

2006-09-04 01:29:17
1.   Bob Timmermann
Well done, Geppetto!
2006-09-04 02:03:54
2.   Underbruin
I smell a Disney movie trilogy in the making...

"Fatbody: Part 1 of the Jeremy Brown story, an inspirational tale of the boy too chubby for the majors... Or so they said. Starring Danny DeVito as our hero, Jeremy Brown; Sean Penn as manic Oakland A's owner Billy Beane; and a small piece of volcanic rock as A's manager Ken Macha."

They don't make enough Academy Awards for this sort of deal.

2006-09-04 07:19:26
3.   Suffering Bruin
(standing ovation)
2006-09-04 07:23:06
4.   Philip Michaels
"Washington gives the "Hey, kid, it's 10-1, and besides, we're that Moneyball team that doesn't believe in steals or hit-and-runs or things like that, anyway, so what do we need signs for?" sign."

Ah yes -- two pats of the head and a clap of the hands. That sign.

There's also the "Let's mess with Joe Morgan's mind and bunt here" sign. That's a good one, too.

2006-09-04 09:38:18
5.   Voxter
Jeremy Brown says:

"Thanks for noticing me."

2006-09-04 13:04:28
6.   joejoejoe
May I add the Vaughn/Fielder Hypothesis to your list of slumps?

Great hitters who are fat for their entire career slump at age 34.

Let's check back on David Ortiz in 2010. Can you say .250/.350/.450, 150K, 25HR?

2006-09-04 15:17:47
7.   Bluebleeder87
i'm a sucker for cinderalla stories.
2006-09-04 15:20:01
8.   Bluebleeder87

well you're not giving high hopes for Olmedo Saenz joe.

2006-09-04 23:18:26
9.   Brendan
His body looks like a typical catchers body to me. what's the fuss, Lewis?
2006-09-05 07:54:03
10.   Cliff Corcoran
Actually, he's fatter than I ever expected. I'm also inducting him into the Reggie Cleveland Hall of Fame. Could be I was lead astray by memories of Jerry Browne.
2006-09-05 18:57:29
11.   Gagne55
tub of lard
2006-09-05 19:28:16
12.   jff
Smokey Burgess rises again.
2006-09-05 21:06:12
13.   Greg Brock
Hey, this is fantastic for Jeremy Brown. How many people get to play a single game of major league baseball?

Really nicely done, Ken. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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