With the playoff demise of the 2012 Oakland Athletics, the much-celebrated concept of Moneyball remains more of a romantic Hollywood notion than it is a blueprint for a World Series championship.
Nobody's gotten more out of less in the last 15 seasons than Oakland general manager Billy Beane, who's parlayed an eye for talent and a knack for advanced statistical research and analysis into half a dozen playoff berths by low budget teams with little in the way of star power. Beane's new age approach to team-building was the subject of a best-selling book and a movie that earned six Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best actor for Brad Pitt, but in the final analysis - statistical or otherwise - Moneyball was a bigger success at the box office than it has been on the baseball diamond. None of Beane's teams has ever advanced past the first post-season round, for reasons that were amply demonstrated yesterday, when playoff heroes included Justin Verlander, Jayson Werth and Buster Posey - three players whose salaries combined are just a few million dollars shy of Oakland's entire payroll, and will eclipse it as soon as Posey is rewarded for his MVP calibre season for the Giants. No matter how smart you are with your money, it's almost always the big dogs earning the big bucks who get you over the hump.
Beane has left a lasting legacy on the game and I don't discount his philosophy as a means of getting the most bang for your buck, but you ultimately get what you pay for, which is why the producers of Moneyball hired Brad Pitt and not Pauly Shore.