Last Sunday night, I was slothing my way through one of those soulless duty-free bookshops at O’Hare—the kind with the endless supply of the book-clubby tome du jour and caustic lighting and $4.29 Smartwater bottles—when a book caught my eye.
Moneyball. Completely out of place. Next to Stieg Larssen. Kitty-corner from Mitch Albom. A new cover—one of those weird book-turns-into-movie-so-we-change-the-book cover-to-look-like-the-movie poster covers: a shadowy and tiny Brad Pitt, relegated to the bottom right-hand corner of the picture, standing in the outfield of the Coliseum—an angle meant to convey contemplation, smallness, pressure.
But Moneyball. How tired was I? I could count on two hands my cumulative hourly sleep total the past three nights (#whitetravelerproblems) and I was just coming out of a craft beer coma. I was not in my best shape, in other words.
Yeah, Moneyball. There—at the moment, here—in this shitty little store with its overpriced items and sub-bodega customer service. Rebranded, reborn, with a new cover and a price out of line with a relatively-successful-but-not-meteorically-so book about how a bunch of white guys running a small franchise exploited market inefficiencies—that market being Major League Baseball—to their advantage, acquiring assets—those assets being Major League Baseball players—to maintain success—success defined as regular season wins relative to dollars spent, not money or championships—despite a bevy of competitors with more resources, and a market—again, Major League Baseball—that is governed by archaic restrictions and regulations that make competitive balance the stuff of reverie.
How does that book transcend its subject and land in duty-free bookshops? How does that turn into a box office smash?