Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Door

I sat in bed on Saturday night with my two beautiful children sleeping between my beautiful wife and I; a humbled smile on my face. As a life-long Oakland A's fan the story of Moneyball was a glorious viewing pleasure. Long before the Oakland A's winning streak of 2002, there were the A's of the 70's that were paid to grow mustaches to embrace the hippies and bikers that supported their team. Long before Billy Beane there was Bill Martin....Crazy George and Rickey Henderson's stolen base record. There was an Earthquake that unified two sides of Northern California during a world series. The most famous home run ever hit started in the hand of a clutch Oakland A's reliever. Heart breaking at times, glorious in others, baseball is certainly a romantic sport.

A person I consider a very good friend has suffered and thrived as a member of the Oakland A's staff. They await a new stadium, their cross town rivals have won a World Championship and the recent fire sale of their team's talent makes the Giambi/Damon departure look like a walk int the park. There can be no glory without heartbreak and such is the story of Moneyball.

Golden Globe Nominee, Jonah Hill, called the story of Moneyball punk rock - Amen! The movie is not about the Oakland A's or even baseball. It is about finding the door where others see a dead end. Billy Beane and Peter Brand bucked the tradition of the most traditional sport in the world and created a new way of operating. That is the challenge that faces us all, no matter what we do. We cannot bow to the New York Yankee's of business because they have more staff, more clients and bigger operating costs. We have to use our gift of inventive thought to flip our respective industries on their ear.

Here's what happens: a company gathers market share, they systematize their business plan and profit drives their mission. People become numbers and reputation creates customers.....In hindsight, they stop creating ways of attracting new clients because they focus on margin management. The sales folk get lazy and count their money instead of hunting. Someone call Billy Beane!

The standard in any industry exists only to be broken. The rich think they are getting richer while the commoners plan a way to storm the tower. Every great company is built by a chairman or chairwoman who is hungry. This is the definition of punk rock: viewing the norm as a stagnant weight station on the road to success. Nothing is cemented, permanence stopped a second ago, and being at the top of the ladder only reveals the color of your bloomers. Our fleeting moments on this earth are only an invitation to chase a pennant every day!

There is a moment in Moneyball when Billy Beane reveals how badly he wants to win. He states that the only game worth winning is the last game of the year. His pursuit of perfection is equal parts torture and joy. Billy Beane missed his daughter's growing up to build a team worth watching on a shoe string budget...and I voiced my disapproval from the stands. His time lost encapsulated in a song that his daughter played for him. My frustration erased by a Scott Hatteberg home run!

Sports are an incomprehensible metaphor for life. You cannot make this stuff up. The human spirit cannot be systematized or defined by metrics. With every achievement the bar is set only to be raised higher.

Find The Door!

Don't Forget to Remember!


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