Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lewis on Battier

Just got through reading Michael Lewis's piece on Shane Battier in the Times Magazine. As per usual, good stuff. As with Moneyball, Lewis drives into the numbers-driven culture of sports management, but the narrative is anything other than pallid determinism. Instead, with his Shane Battiers, Bill Jameses and Billy Williamses, Lewis feeds us a new heroic narrative: quiet, quirky, but driven people who figure out new ways to do things, be it from the producer or the analytic perspective, which aren't too far removed from one another.

It's not unlike the Jobs/Wozniak tinker in a garage model, but it's more for services than for products. It upends the quant vs. instinct and guts model presented first in the parable of Paul Bunyan vs. the Steam Shovel and resurrected most famously in Rower Lowenstein's account of the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management in When Genius Failed, the book that everybody read but nobody seems to have taken to heart.

In fact, as we come to the end of an era whose beginings Lewis chronicled in Liar's Poker, it may be time to revisit that book to see how much the worldview has changed.

And, as to Battier, I must say that I always thought he would have looked good in a lighter shade of blue.

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