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Bateman: Must be the moneyball

By Oliver Bateman

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From what we’ve heard, you’re probably one of the nicest guys or girls in town. From what we’ve heard, you’re probably one of the nicest guys or girls in town. People drop what they’re doing, put down their Nintendo DS handheld consoles and leave their Occupy Pittsburgh tents to tell you how nice you are. For the most part, being the nicest guy or girl in town is the way to go. But when playing niceball ceases to enable you to hit home runs or ace your midterm examinations, it’s time to consider a superior alternative: moneyball.

If you haven’t seen the critically acclaimed film based on the critically acclaimed book of the same title, “Moneyball” tells the story of what happens when Hollywood pretty boy Brad Pitt takes over as general manager of the hard-luck Oakland Athletics. Faced with a challenge almost as steep as the one we assumed when we chose to redeem the woebegone Cleveland Browns in Madden 2012’s dynasty mode, Pitt does what any golden-hearted cutie pie would do under similar circumstances: He hires a fat geek to compile some statistics, crunch a few imaginary numbers and then moneyball the heck out of Mr. Connie Mack’s White Elephants. How does that work out for them, you ask? We’d like to say that the A’s go on to win 15 consecutive World Series, but we won’t because we actually have no idea what happens. Don’t spoil it for us, though — we love to be surprised, and we’re still chomping mad about how our friends ruined that legendary pie-humping scene in “American Pie” for us.

Anyway, the point of this extended introduction is that moneyball is the answer to any problem you can imagine, sports-related or otherwise. Take our aforementioned Browns franchise, for example. The cupboard was bare when we seized the reins. Colt McCoy? Is that some sort of malt liquor accompaniment for a romantic evening with a half-dozen of Pittsburgh’s most gorgeous $5 pizza pies? And Peyton Hillis? Man, if EA fans hadn’t voted to put his picture on this cover, we wouldn’t know Jack (Bauer, because he always saves the day) about this tortoise-slow, overrated halfback. It almost goes without saying that this is a terrible team, but because we despise Hillis we’re going to say it again: This is a terrible team.

Following Brad “Sexiest Man Alive” Pitt’s example, we decided to moneyball our way out of that deep hole. We clicked over to the transactions screen and began trading our worst players for much better ones. When Dallas bristled at swapping McCoy for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and three future first-round picks, we just did what any competitive moneyballer would do and selected the “force trade” option. After some spirited wheeling and dealing, our team was soon comprised of top stars like Michael Vick, LeSean “Shady” McCoy, O.J. Simpson, Cam Newton (we used the game’s player editor to “supe him up” to a stellar 99 rating, which seemed fair enough), Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and Casey Hampton. No matter how forcefully clueless old-timers like Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan are willing to argue the merits of smallball, there’s not a chance in heck that scrappy smallballers like McCoy and Hillis could compete with our “dream team” of moneyball studs.

But can moneyball work outside of Madden? You bet your bottom dollar — and we only make safe bets because every dollar counts when you’re moneyballing — it can! Let’s consider that NBA lockout everyone isn’t talking about these days. Real bummer, huh? There’s no way the greedy owners and the lazy, overpaid “max contract” players are ever going to come to terms, right? Wrong! Once both sides hire a fat geek and have him commence with the moneyballing, professional basketball will be back on TV, Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant will be back to bricking at least a dozen “treys” a game and we will be back to not watching hoops for any longer than the split second it takes us to switch to that episode of “Dance Moms” we’ve been saving in the DVR.

There’s more, though: Remember that big midterm in the lecture class you’ve been skipping all semester on account of your various flus and other excuses? You don’t? Yeah, there’s an exam next week. Check the syllabus if you’re not sure. No, sorry, we don’t have a copy of the syllabus. Anyway, syllabi are beside the point, because you won’t need to study once you get down to moneyballing. Just fire up your favorite Internet browser — we happen to prefer Google Chrome, in case you’re keeping score — and surf over to wikipedia.org. Once you get there, you’re golden: They have every fact and then some. Don’t believe that?  Fact-check us on Wikipedia, then.

Here’s an example of an exam-related fact that’s on Wikipedia: Former NFL star quarterback and headband fancier Jim McMahon graduated from Roy High School in Utah. And try this helpful hint on for size: Each kilogram of finished Roquefort cheese requires about 4.5 liters of milk. Gnarly, dude! However, because it’s so easy to get lost in this Bering Sea of information — each molecule of which is not only memorable but absolutely essential to leading the kind of life that singer Ricky Martin referred to as “la vida loca” — you might wind up unable to keep your facts straight. And if you can’t keep your facts straight while visiting the World Wide Web’s foremost repository of data, how on earth are you going to become the sort of fat geek who excels at moneyball?

Niceball will win you some best friends and smallball might help Tony La Russa steal a win or two in the World Series, but what of those blinged-out dream lifestyles filled with platinum grills for your rotting teeth, flat-brimmed baseball caps to hide your receding hairline and hot Starbury “kicks” for your corn-bedecked feet? To paraphrase the lyrics to a song that should have been adapted for use during a life-affirming montage in Pitt’s latest magnum opus, “it must be the moneyball.”

Oliver Bateman is an “All-Madden” grand champion and certified moneyball expert. His beloved website www.moustacheclubofamerica.com contains all sorts of inspiring stories about how fat geeks used Excel spreadsheets to win the girls of their dreams.

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Bateman: Must be the moneyball