"Chapter Eleven: The Human Element" is mostly a one-on-one conversation between Michael Lewis and Billy Beane, with the playing of the A's potential twentieth win in a row in September 2002 as a backdrop. The A's jump out to a huge lead early, going up 11-0 on the Royals by the third inning. But by the eighth the score is tied, 11-11. Read after the jump to find out how it ends!
The chapter is full of entertaining and candid Billy Beane moments. Some favorites:
Billy hadn't the slightest intention of watching his team make history. It was just another game, he said, and he didn't watch games. "All they provide me with is subjective emotion," he said, "and that can be counterproductive."
Emotion has no place in the game. As Jimmy Dugan said in A League Of Their Own, "There's no crying in baseball!"
Here's Beane on then-young stud A's third baseman Eric Chavez:
"The only thing that will stop Chavvy is if he gets bored," he says. "People don't understand that. He continues to frustrate people who take him out of context. He is twenty-four years old. What he's done at twenty-four no one has done. Health permitted, his whole career is a lock."
This must be painful to read for A's fans. Chavez accumulated an impressive 32.2 fWAR by his 29th birthday but health did not permit. Injuries slowed him down when he should have been in his prime. He's been limited to just 209 games played since 2007.
Here's Beane getting all subjective again, as the A's start to give back their massive lead:
"I can't believe I have to sit here and watch this sh*t."
Sounds like the Mets fan motto. Finally, Beane weighed in on developments in middle infield communication:
"In the last ten years guys started covering their lips with their gloves," snaps Billy. "I've never known a single lip-reader in baseball. What, has there been a rash of lipreading I don't know about?"
The chapter ends with a Hollywood moment -- Scott Hatteberg, pickin' machine!, cracks a game-winning, pinch-hit solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to seal the twentieth win in a row. And Lewis closes the chapter appropriately:
Billy Beane was able to look me in the eye and say that it was just another win.
Mets-centric appearances/mentions in Chapter Eleven:
- Brent Mayne, former Met
1. Beane's frustration with watching his team manifests itself in cursing and throwing of objects. How do you react when the Mets endure tough losses? Maybe it's a sign of maturity (side note: frightening), or increasing apathy with this struggling team, but I used to be far more annoyed with Mets losses just a few years ago. Mets-induced shows of emotion are rare nowadays.
2. Have you ever thrown an object in disgust with the Mets? If yes, what was the object? Did it break?
3. The Eric Chavez mention reminded of David Wright. Our man DW will be 29 years-old in December and has accumulated 39.3 fWAR. How do you see the rest of his career playing out? Does he have a shot of regaining is glorious 2005-2008 form?