Whether you’re a sports fanatic, a Brad Pitt loyalist, or just an avid moviegoer, I highly urge you to see Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. It is a remarkably made adaptation based off of the award-winning book by Michael Lewis. In sum, the novel focuses on the success of the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team lead by general manager Billy Beane. With a limited budget ($41 million) – 5th lowest out of 30 total teams – Billy Beane is forced to compete with the elite (i.e. the New York Yankees’ budget of $125 million) in order to save his job. Given his inherent disadvantage, Beane and the Athletics organization are forced to rely on undervalued, yet productive players within the market. They achieve this by using “sabermetrics” – highly specialized statistical analysis – to acquire players as opposed to the more traditional method of scouting. In doing so, we come across many paralleled themes to our class discussions regarding Anti-Federalism.
In the film, Billy Beane (Pitt) asserts: “We are card counters at the blackjack table. And we’re gonna turn the odds on the casino.” Essentially, so it seems, anti-federalists shared virtually the same sentiment in the debates over ratifying the Constitution. In other words, anti-federalists sought to accomplish their goals with the cards that the Federalists were dealing. To “general managers” like Patrick Henry and George Mason, these cards – the proposed Constitution – appeared to be: rule by the elite, a noticeable lack in participation/representation, and most prominently, ignorance for the common good.
The central argument to Moneyball is that baseball, without any form of a salary cap, is an unfair market where businesses, or teams have a tough time competing due to the unequal “power of the purse” across the league. Simply put, wealthier teams can afford more talented players, and thus, are more likely to win. A common trend in baseball, contrary to other sports, is that the same few – elite – teams consistently dominate the competition year after year. However, when a team like Billy Beane’s 2002 Oakland Athletics disproves this tendency, it becomes a truly remarkable story. This is because baseball is not only a sport, but is also a business that requires balancing high levels of efficiency and production. In other words, it does not provide nor care for teams that have financial concerns. Much like the Anti-Federalists, who were foremost concerned about the “common good”, feared that rule by the elite would naturally create a corrupt, self-absorbed government. “…it is not a fair and equal representation of the people even in proportion to its number…the representation is unsafe, because in the exercise of such great powers and trusts, it is so exposed to corruption and undue influence…” (The Anti-Federalists, 17).
Typical of most Anti-Federalists, and more specifically Civic Republicans, there is a burning desire, or yearning for participation in government. Therefore, representation must be adequate enough to provide for an expanding populace. Anti-Federalists argue against Federalists by claiming without such widespread participation, representation would cease to exist in the amount that it should. Without a close connection between citizens and their delegates, government would become deficient in supplying people with welfare. “To produce these essential requisites, the representation ought to be fair, equal, and sufficiently numerous, to possess the same interests, feelings, opinions, and views, which the people themselves would possess…” (The Anti-Federalists, 16). Similarly, as Moneyball suggests, Billy Beane’s yearning to participate, or rather compete, is exemplified by his relationship with his daughter. Having skipped college for the big leagues, the audience will be exposed to Beane’s passion to keep his job so that he could provide for his child. Baseball, being a sport of unpredictability, and at times instability, provides no safety net for Beane and his family. Undoubtedly, Beane’s hunger to compete with the wealthiest of teams parallels the Anti-Federalists yearning for participation in government.
Furthermore, like the innovative management techniques used by the 2002 Oakland Athletics, the anti-Federalists proposed that an original bit – the Bill of Rights – be added to the Constitution. Professional baseball is notorious for being “one of the most tradition-bound businesses in America…”. Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics forever changed the game of baseball by completely altering the way in which management had traditionally operated. Teams began to use statistical research to scout for players in contrast to basic, instinctive nature. Beane had successfully redefined what was needed to be efficient in a very disproportionate market.
The Anti-Federalists, unique in their own right, had also forever changed the foundation of the United States. While being one of the few winning arguments to the Anti-Federalist ideology, the Bill of Rights reconfirmed, in writing, the civil liberties of the people. The Bill of Rights was necessary in “ascertaining and fundamentally establishing those inalienable rights of men…” (The Anti-Federalists, 16). And as my peer Andrew Haddad alludes to in his blog, this would aspect of the Anti-Federalist ideology would fall under the third part of Morone’s Democratic Wish – “new political institutions being created to accommodate the popular response” (Haddad, 9/26/11).
The United States Constitution, while one of the oldest written frameworks in the world, was influenced by many European philosophies and ideas. Likewise, the Constitution has also influenced many nations worldwide to adapt written frameworks of their own. However, the Bill of Rights, as promoted by the Anti-Federalists, is an innovative institution in its own right. It is tremendously unique in that it takes into account the liberties of the people it intends to provide for. Like Beane and the Athletics, the Anti-Federalists forever changed “the way in which the game is played”.