Beane's exec honor a practical matter

Beane's exec honor a practical matter
November 8, 2012, 7:54 pm
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When it was reported that most baseball general managers were actively rooting against the Washington Nationals because of the ham-headed way they handled the Steven Strasburg issue, smart people wondered why the other generals would care. Or if they did care, why they wouldnt be delighted.General managers dont think in terms of spite. Oh, they enjoy giving the screws to each other, but they dont typically act on agendas.And how do we know that? Billy Beane was named Executive of the Year at the general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Ca. In a vote of 57 other general managers and other baseball executives.NEWS: Beane named Executive of the Year
You know. The people who hated Moneyball and all it presumed, and thought Beane was a vainglorious gasbag, and all that.Beane deserved the award as much as anyone. Signing Yoenis Cespedes. Cutting Manny Ramirez loose when it became clear he couldnt play any more. Dismantling one pitching staff and reassembling it with different parts. Hiring and supporting (with the odd argument thrown in for old times sake) manager Bob Melvin after being perceived as the scourge of the managerial profession. Taking a projected 94-loss team and supervising it to 94 wins.Yeah, that ought to do it.But if vengeance were the driving force in baseball (as opposed to the more traditional verities of greed, self-satisfaction, keeping the boss off your back, screwing the other guy out of his best players for your worst ones, etc.), Beane would never have won. Moneyball: The Book torqued off baseball people, and Moneyball: The Movie even more, although if Brad Pitt has cast Jonah Hill as Beane and himself as Art Howe, that could have gone down a lot better.Indeed, Beane could have been frozen out even if the As had beaten Justin Verlander in Game 5, dope-slapped the Yankees and swept the Giants rather than the way it turned out.But as it turns out, general managers dont have that kind of attention span. They also dont have time for the grudges we think they do. They may squeeze the shoes of the odd player for petty reasons, or hate an owner who turned out to be less than as good as his word.But for the most part, they are practical men, who make practical decisions based on the information and financial and political needs of the time. And they all use math, too.Plus, they dont really give that much of a damn about the award anyway, because as practical men, they know that Executives of the Year get fired just like Schmoes of the Week and Dullards of the Month. They vote, to the extent that they do, based on the practicalities of the moment, and they dont spend a ton of time on the ballot because they have other things theyd rather do.Like swindling a colleague.So Beane wins the award because, and for no better reason than, he deserved it. Nobody did a demonstrably better job, nobody came from farther back to do it, and nobody had to confront his core beliefs and acknowledge that some of them are, well, less than absolutely correct.And baseball executives appreciate that, too. Not as much as they would have if the role of Ron Washington had been played by Denzel Washington, but hey, hes Executive of the Year, not Marty Scorsese.

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