Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This weekend Michael Lewis took his Moneyball approach to this fantastic New York Times magazine piece on the Houston Rockets' Shane Battier. Moneyball, inarguably one of the most important, and certainly most misunderstood, books ever written about sports showed the ways in which a new generation of baseball front office people, embodied in Oakland's Billy Beane, were finding and exploiting inefficiencies in the marketplace for baseball players, thus allowing small market teams to compete against those with far superior resources. Lewis has taken a similar approach, through the lens of the incredibly sympathetic Ole Miss football player Michael Oher, to football and especially the left tackle position, and now to Battier and basketball.

It's safe to say that Lewis has found his niche. His earliest books took a similar approach to financial sectors. It would be formulaic were it not stunningly clear just how easily conventional wisdom becomes dogma in so many varied but related -- hypercompetitive, big money -- realms. It does not hurt that Lewis is a hell of a writer -- workmanlike, but crisp, clear, and readable, and he easily conveys complicated ideas to make them so accessible that you do not even realize they are complicated. Hopefully this piece on Battier foreshadows a book on the topic.

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