SHEA STADIUM — INTERIOR — DAY
An OLD SCOUT shuffles to his seat, clipboard in hand, and looks down to find a MONEYBALL GUY with a pocket protector in the seat next to his. The old scout sits down with a theatrical sigh.
OLD SCOUT: Good Lord, it’s you. What’s it gonna be today, egghead? VORP or OPS? Park factor? Isolated power?
MONEYBALL GUY: Well, if it isn’t Rip Van Good Face. Where you been, Phrenology class?
They watch various Mets drop fly balls and commit other misdeeds.
OLD SCOUT: Perfect bunt by that kid Reyes. Perfect. But I forget, you math guys hate bunts.
MONEYBALL GUY: No, it’s the sacrifice bunt that’s consistently overrated. Didn’t you read Billy Beane’s book?
OLD SCOUT: You mean Michael Lewis’s book.
MONEYBALL GUY: Just seeing if you were paying attention.
OLD SCOUT: Well, lookit that — a stolen base for Reyes. And third on the error. What are you clapping for, Poindexter? Aren’t stolen bases a tool of the devil? Shouldn’t you should have nine Scott Hattebergs out there crawling around the bases?
MONEYBALL GUY: Stolen bases are highly overrated — kinda like high-school pitchers. This really isn’t that hard, but I’ll speak slowly anyway: If you look at the run-expectation table, you’ll see a caught stealing hurts the offense 2.3 times as much as a successful steal helps. So unless a guy has a success rate of 75% or better, it’s not a good move. You could look it up, Perfesser.
OLD SCOUT: So why are you clapping?
MONEYBALL GUY: Well, Reyes has 32 steals and has been caught just seven times. 33 steals now. He makes it often enough that it’s a pretty decent gamble.
The two watch various adventures amidst the wind and the high sky for a time.
OLD SCOUT: Here’s that kid again — base hit! Now if Cameron bunts him over, another hit will bring the Mets to within 3-2. Now Baby Einstein, you just let me know if I’m speaking Greek, running down the crazy ideas behind these old-fashioned things we used to value. We called ’em fundamentals.
MONEYBALL GUY: Yeah, you and Cap Anson invented base-ball on Abner Doubleday’s lawn. Tell it to your Build-A-Bear, Grandpa. The Mets shouldn’t be bunting here — it’s only the third inning, too soon to play for one run. Cripes, now Beltran’s bunting….
OLD SCOUT (a minute later): And because he was, Reyes scores on a groundout by Floyd. We used to call that manufacturing a run. Man, that kid can really fly. Remind me what you wannabe nightwatchmen at the baked-beans factory don’t like about him?
MONEYBALL GUY: It’s not that we don’t like Reyes, it’s that he’s a really undisciplined player. He can’t take a walk to save his life. A .302 on-base percentage will just kill a team, no matter how exciting 30% of the at-bats wind up being. And a .697 OPS, yeesh.
OLD SCOUT: OPS, OPS, OPS. Hell, I think we should throw Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth clean out of Cooperstown, since there weren’t no OPS when they played.
MONEYBALL GUY: Man, pump your elbow and you’d be Joe Morgan, you sad old fossil. Cobb and Ruth were great players by any statistical measure.
OLD SCOUT: I know, I know. Settle down, kid, no need to run off and blog. I just like watching you get worked up.
Various endeavors transpire, until it’s the bottom of the 7th, with the Dodgers up 5-4 and Marlon Anderson leading off for the Mets with a walk.
OLD SCOUT: Oh no, is that Reyes squaring around to bunt? I’ll get your EpiPen ready.
MONEYBALL GUY: Yep, runs-expectation index about to go from .9116 to .7125. I don’t know how you guys did your figures when you were tapping them out with chisels in the Stone Age, but nowadays .7125 is generally considered less than .9116. Now, if this were a one-run game, it would make a lot more sense….
OLD SCOUT: Jeez, would the kid get the friggin’ bunt down already? He’s too busy trying to bunt for a hit. His tools are better than that. What’s his average in late-and-close situations?
MONEYBALL GUY: Sorry, I don’t use bad stats to judge illusory situations. Two strikes. Maybe Willie will come to his senses and take the bunt off.
OLD SCOUT: Whoa! Put a stopwatch on that one! You ain’t got nothing against triples, do ya?
MONEYBALL GUY: Of course not. Now you’re just being silly. Attaboy, Beltran! Mets lead!
The bottom of the 8th arrives.
OLD SCOUT: You got a stat can explain to me what the hell Minkawhatsits was doing there?
MONEYBALL GUY: Nothing could explain that. Man, with Looper coming in they could really use a two-out hit from Reyes, and some insurance. Let’s see if he can work a good count here and —
OLD SCOUT: Base hit!
OLD SCOUT and MONEYBALL GUY: That kid sure is exciting!
MONEYBALL GUY: But of course he should be exciting more than 30.2% of the time.
OLD SCOUT: Oh, can’t you just shut up and enjoy it for one afternoon?