Final Word from Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Moneyball" is a book (and movie) about baseball, but it's reallyabout the business of baseball, and it has much to teacheven those who have no interest whatsoever in the sport. Thebasic idea is that professional-baseball scouts traditionallyrecruited amateur players based more on gut feeling and aplayer's aura than on hard performance statistics. When theOakland A's started running meaningful numbers on players,the team was able to produce far more wins than its meagerpayroll should have otherwise allowed. If gut feeling wereused to pick a Temelín winner, this week it would probablybe the Russians (who hosted a big nuclear do in Prague); nextweek (after Nečas returns from the U.S.) it would be the Americans;once Europe goes survivalist and nationalistic, it wouldbe the French. Without knowing the criteria for winning andwithout firm offers to run the numbers on, most of the talk sofar about Temelín is just meaningless media hype. The timewould be better spent going to see Brad Pitt in "Moneyball."

Glossary of difficult words

to moneyball - to use data analysis to manage and improve performance;

(talent) scout - a person whose job is to search for talented performers who can be employed or promoted, esp. in sports and entertainment;

gut feeling - a visceral and emotional reaction to something, generally considered a reflection of intuition and not rationality;

aura - the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing or place;

to run/crunch numbers - to analyze data or perform calculations;

meager - lacking in quantity or quality; scant or negligible;

payroll - a list of a company's employees and the amount of money to be paid to them;

do - (noun) a party or other social event;

hype - extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.

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