Miscellany

ESPN's Keith Law vs. Author Michael Lewis Over Scouts and Smarts

Moneyball’s coming out in eight days. You’ve seen the trailer. You’re stoked.

ESPN’s Keith Law has seen Moneyball. Naturally, he hated it. In a rambling review, Law calls it an “absolute mess of a film” and writes, “if I hadn’t been planning to review it, I would have walked out.” Of course he would have. It is difficult to pluck Law’s biggest gripe with the movie – his review is unofficially 93% negative – and instead of excerpting the entire post, this stood out:

Then there’s the baseball stuff, which is not good. For starters, the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets.

It should surprise nobody that Keith Law didn’t like the baseball aspects of the movie (key word here: movie). Law spent some time working with the Toronto Blue Jays in the early 00s and was a scout. Law also went to Harvard. And thus, he thinks he’s smarter than you when it comes to baseball. And he’ll let you know about. Ask the editors he’s sparred with at ESPN the Magazine, or Buster Olney, or virtually any baseball writer in the industry. Law knows all.

According to Moviefone, Law wrote his review and then sent it to Billy Beane, the A’s GM (Brad Pitt plays him in the movie). Then, Beane called the book’s author, Michael Lewis. His first reaction? “[Law's] intellectually dishonest, and I don’t know to what purpose.” Lewis went on:

“I don’t understand why he goes from being — when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length — he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he’s casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school.

Law responded by playing the card he always does anytime someone disagrees with him: that was a personal attack! Law felt the same way when he was mentioned in this post recently. There’s no question Law is a bright individual. He knows baseball. He just needs to work on his delivery.

Previously: Q&A with Moneyball actor Chris Pratt
Previously: Q&A with Keith Law

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