You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people holding the reins have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. (Moneyball, 2011)
Anything written by Aaron Sorkin is probably going to be worth watching (The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The Social Network… ). So I watched MoneyBall yesterday, spellbound by the real life story of the underdog Oakland Athletics taking on the better financed more fancied teams. In 103 years of professional baseball, no team had won 20 games straight, yet Billy Beane’s team managed this winning streak in 2002 with his unfancied team of ‘freaks’, has-beens and no-bodies. No flash good looking dudes, just a well drilled mix of players who did their job (and nothing else) and somehow it all blended to a team that won as many games as the Yankees that year. Players were selected on their ability to be one specific cog on the wheel. Somehow it all worked and within a few years, all teams were using these techniques. Even the Red Sox would win a World Series two years later using these methods. The game had changed.
The first guy through the wall always gets bloody. Ain’t that the truth. Breaking the mould is not easy. Trying something new is always going to have people doubting you. The loudest naysayers will be those who feel most threatened by the change to their comfortable status quo. Those people who sit on their jobs doing the same thing every year getting the same results. They are not for the new, for the new is different and threatening. Give me those that dare to give something new a go, while everyone else is laughing at them, yet still persist. They are the guys for me. It’s the only way change is made. How the new is created.
For those of you who have tried something new while the massive status quo just watched and mocked, I salute you. Whether you won or not.
For those of you who want to actually see the REAL play that made history that day in September 2002, from a couple of fans in the bleachers, watch this.
And for those that want to extend the lessons to startups, read this.