Money Matters Mightily: Tip Top Topping: Drop or Bottom Feeding.

Caught up with the film " Moneyball " last week starring Brad Pitt. At first sight, the idea, of a film about Baseball and maths does not seem an intoxicating mixture, let alone a two hour plus watch.
But how wrong can you be.
 It is an interesting and very engaging film; due mostly to the conversations between Billy Beane ( Brad Pitt) and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill ).

The film is based on true story.
In 2002,  Billy Beane the General Manager of Oakland Athletic ( the A's ) team, decided that  the conventional wisdom of team  building and selection was  flawed. He enlisted  a newly qualified economics graduate Peter Brand. Together they used an analytical,  evidence-approach  to the assembling of a team. On a small budget, they realised  that spending money on a few 'stars' is wasteful and does not by itself  build  a team.
 The winner in a Baseball match is the team that scores the most runs. It is not necessary therefore to have, the hitting stats that reveal the most cost-effective players; nor the age ; nor defensive plays. While all of these facts and more have a purpose, they tend to over-value the players. By Peter's new analysis model,  they were able to assemble a team a low cost team.
By motivation and encouragement and in some cases drafting players into roles that they were not necessary used to; they welded players that played for one another with little ego ( many happy to have a chance at what the market pointed to,  diminishing career choices ) and  in so doing created a winning philosophy.
So against much internal opposition from the traditionalists on the coaching staff, the A's went in that season to score a Baseball record twenty consecutive  winning matches. This has never been beaten.

But it  is of course,  fair to say that since 1991, the A's have never won the World Series ( small world ! 29 US and 1 Canadian in today's MLB's League ). These are a number of play-off matches between the top two teams in that season's league.


It will probably be on television soon; so look out for it; or borrow on DVD ( £1) at the library.
Well worth a watch ****

And to prove that the film or rather the analysis ( now called Sabermetrics) is still making waves; look no further than our Championship Football Sky League and in particular Brentford, who are in the play-offs ( semi-final) for the Premier League. Second leg tonight (15/ 5) v Middlesborough; currently losing 2-1.

Brenford's owner Matthew Benham has just appointed a Statistical director to the club. Against the wishes of the successful manager, he intends to use a ' Moneyball ' system in next season's team selection. Interesting what!

Stop Press - Brentford beaten 0 - 3  (4-1 ) on aggregate. Dream fades for another year.


It was the day the month of May was made for; azure blue, bright, crisp, green and lush. God was in the world.
 On such a day D. and d. and I motored to Dyrham Park, near Bath. A National Trust property enclosed in acres of rolling parkland.


We parked the car and walked down the path to view the 17th century mansion there.

We could see as we approached that the external features were covered in scaffolding.
The roof was receiving major attention; in fact we later discovered  a £3.5 million refit.
We were able to join a roof- top tour and made our way in a lift,  up 75 feet to the top.
Here are some views we took:

The views outside were equally impressive.

As we made our way down the stairs, we espied workers checking and removing slates.

We made our way outside to the garden and sat in the sun admiring the immaculate  borders.

Refreshed afterwards with cups of tea, we made our way back towards the car up a steep incline,
At the top, against a log we rested and watched  deer congregating by  the wall of a barn.

Anyone for a stag party ?


Well Newcastle did manage a point against West Brom last week. With two games to go ( away today to QPR and then finally home to West Ham), they currently lie in 17th place (17/20 ) two points above Hull on 36 points. The bottom two clubs QPR and Burnley are already relegated , so it is looking to be between Hull and us for the final relegation place.
It is going down to the wire and  I guess we'll probably make it.

The thing is, do I want them to spend another lifeless seaon in the Premier League or drop down to more friendly waters, where they can re-group and show their class? We shall see.


That's a bye for this week.
Cheerio for now,


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