In retrospect it was a pretty big moment, but at the time I didn't think much of my decision to buy another book in the Chicago airport before heading off to China on a study abroad program. At the time I just thought I might need another book for the times I wouldn't be sleeping on the planes, bullet trains and buses. As casually as I would pick up a magazine, I decided to buy Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I had read the New York Times Magazine except from the book and had been intrigued, but for whatever reason (probably because it was college and I didn't read as many "for fun" books) I hadn't read the book yet.
In fact at that moment in my life I had never read Michael Lewis before and I didn't even have a favorite baseball team. My expectations of the book were low, and I just hoped that it held my attention enough to make it through the book. However, my worries about the book were misguided as it has become one of my two favorite books all time and one of the few books I've read more than once. Also, I've gone on to read many other Michael Lewis books including The Blind Side, Liar's Poker, The Big Short and consider him to be one of my favorite writers.
I love Moneyball and since the movie is coming out this weekend there have been many articles out the book, movie and concept. I have tried to read everything from the criticisms to a well-balanced review of the movie. Now it is time to see the movie. Tonight M and I are going out to dinner before seeing the movie. I'm excited and somewhat nervous about seeing the movie. I am afraid that the movie will make the Moneyball more generic than when it was just a book. The movie will be more accessible (people are more willing to spend 2 hours at a movie than the time it takes to read 400 pages) and unfortunately that means a lot of what came from the book will probably be dumb downed or misinterpreted.
My fear is that when people ask me about my favorite book and I tell them it is Moneyball that they will say something about the movie and completely miss the point. Moneyball didn't became my favorite book because of Brad Pitt or a Hollywood storyline. Moneyball became my favorite book more for the way that it challenged my traditional thinking than for the story about the 2002 Oakland Athletics. The true story of the book was about finding market inefficiencies (the full title is Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game) and exploiting them. This combined two of my greatest loves; statistics and sports. Even if Michael Lewis wouldn't have written a wonderful story about compelling characters (one of my favorite nicknames ever is the Greek God of Walks), I still would have enjoyed reading this book.
Anyway, I am hoping the movie is good, but strangely I am also hoping it isn't too much of a success. Maybe this is the same feeling a fan of a small time rock band feels when the band suddenly becomes popular? I don't know. I don't want to be possessive about Moneyball (not that I even can, since it was a very successful book and pretty well-known concept), but my relationship with the book has always felt personal. It felt like the book was written just for me and now a bunch of people who don't like sports or statistics will be watching it because they think Brad Pitt is cute.