So, everybody has an opinion about Billy Beane. It’s not that he’s under more scrutiny than his peers--that distinction belongs to the larger-market GMs. Rather, because of a certain best-selling book which must not be named (not again), Billy has come to stand for all sorts of things--like the ideas that walks are under-valued and steals are over-valued--or at least used to be. More than anything, though, I think Billy came to stand for the idea that a smart general manager can make up for financial disadvantages. It was particularly bold for him to allow himself to stand for that idea, and for those who agreed with it, he became celebrated--even labeled by some as a genius. Then there were those who disagreed--they still write the “fIRe BeAnE hE sUCKs aNd sHouLD Go JOIn hiS PAl MAchO,” fAnPOsts on this site.
So what else is new? This argument has been ongoing since before AN launched, and we have all read it 100 times. But amidst the volume of that argument (because the disagreement between the two sides is so passionate), I don’t think we’ve ever had a very clear gauge of, well, how many people are on each side? In other words, the argument itself has obscured the issue of who might be winning the argument, i.e., which side has had more converts. What I’m suggesting is a CNN Gallup poll tracking Beane’s approval rating, and now that I mention it, I can’t believe that this doesn’t already exist. After all, every debate over GM performance is irrelevant, except to the extent that it changes the hearts and minds of fans.
Of course, they conduct polls for politicians and not for team executives because the former are CHOSEN based on a popular vote. I’m not advocating that team executives should be chosen this way; I’m only a fan of democracy in certain contexts--I hate the fan vote for the All-Star starters, for example. But at the same time, as we all know, popularity is important--even for dictators. You want to have the people on your side, and it would be interesting to know to what extent, over the last five years, people have been on Beane’s side--it would be interesting to have this kind of data for every GM. I’ll be somewhat interested in knowing what Beane’s approval rating is right now (thus the poll below), but it will be more instructive to see that rating fluctuate over time. I suspect, for example, that Beane’s rating went down after most of his recent trades--Bradley, Loaiza, Haren, Swisher, Harden and Blanton. In between Swisher and Harden, I bet it went up sharply during the A’s surprising first half of this season, just as I bet it fell after the Hudson-Mulder trades and then rebounded sharply when the young A’s got surprisingly good in June of 2005. Of course, absent hard data, this is all meaningless speculation.
So here’s a start--the first Beane Approval Rating poll. I think this ought to be done every so often --once a month, maybe? Twice a year? Maybe somebody in admin wants to take the idea and run with it; I know you might have a hard time believing this, but I’m not paid for these contributions of mine to AN, and so if you want an official poll, well, you get what you pay for. Now, allow to me stop typing before I say anything more that might unduly influence the vote. Go A’s.