April 22, 2013
Perception matters. Go ahead and tell yourself it doesn't, but perception matters. How people view you will always positively or negatively affect their opinions on you even if those opinions are completely bogus. And that is unfair but it's a reality in life. Perception matters. And it matters more than you think.
Now I bring this up because I started thinking about perception of baseball GMs while watching 'Moneyball' for the 1,234th time on Starz. I don't know why I watch that movie because I hate it. I hate that Jeremy Giambi is a focal point even though he wasn't on that specific team. I hate that Grady Fuson is made to look like a villain when in reality he left Oakland on his own terms for another job. I know there's creative license with all of this but it still bothers me. Mostly though I hate both the 'Moneyball' movie and book because of the perception it created.
The book is really the main culprit. Now I'm not saying what Michael Lewis wrote is complete garbage and I don't follow sabermetrics. I follow sabermetrics and loved Lewis's book. What I hate is this perception that has followed in baseball that certain GM's are genius's while others are idiots.
Follow me for a second. When Billy Beane signs someone like Scott Hatteberg he's "exploring the market inefficiencies". And he's a genius for doing so! When Brian Sabean signs a Aubrey Huff or a Dan Duquette signs a Chris Davis they are idiots. Even though both Sabean and Duquette also explored the market for inefficiencies. Why is this? Perception matters.
Beane and Rays GM Andrew Friedman opened up about how they run their respective teams in books. Theo Epstein had the Boston hype machine behind him. A perception was created that they were geniuses and the way they built teams is the only way to build teams and if another GM doesn't build their team exactly like them they are idiots. Perception by mostly sabermetric writers have created this.
Is Brian Sabean any smarter or dumber than Beane or Friedman? I don't believe he is but the perception would have you believe that Sabean has lucked into 3 National League pennants and 2 championships in his Giants tenure. Luck is a factor no doubt, but it's not all luck to make it to three world series and two championships. But that's the perception that Sabean faces. If you switched Beane and Sabean, Beane would be called a genius instead of a fool who just got "lucky".
Another example is Dan Duquette. If you look at that 2004 Red Sox roster the majority of the key players were acquired by Duquette. Not Epstein. Duquette was the one who acquired Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek, and he took a chance on Tim Wakefield when he converted to a knuckleballer. Who gets the credit though for Boston's first championship since 1918? Epstein. Perception has killed Duquette over time while pumping up Epstein.
Perception isn't always reality but it is in the eyes of a lot of people when it comes to baseball GM's. This has been one of the biggest curses of "Moneyball" along with the fact that a lot people like to point out that Beane hasn't won anything in Oakland.
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