As a character study of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's, it's an easy and compelling story of how advanced statistical analysis can overcome financial disparity. Wait, what?

The problem with this idea in the long run is that teams with more money hire advanced analysts who can build better statistical models. The Red Sox are one team who have taken this to heart, hiring Bill James, who virtually invented this field of statistical analysis known as sabermetrics.

Which is why. more broadly, the book is every bit as much about the battle between old stats and new stats: for the easy stuff, on-base percentage and slugging percentage vs. RBI and batting average...but it gets really hard really fast.

No way that Soderbergh is doing a movie about statistics, but nobody combines human drama with math better than Michael Lewis. See also Liar's Poker among others. I highly, highly recommend Moneyball. A wonderful read.

Also of note, though: Beane's numbers didn't always serve him. Here's a

killer analysis of the picks he discusses in Moneyball, which I also highly recommend. Short version: 4 years later, Beane's theoretical draft choices lagged behind the major league average of draftees found by conventional analysis.

Drafting in baseball is hideously difficult. I have no idea how anyone does it well. Billy famously said, "We'll take 50 guys, and celebrate if 2 of them make it."

Notwithstanding, he changed the shape of the game, every bit as much for fans as for teams.