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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mark Mulder: There was no talk of ‘Moneyball’ when I was in Oakland

Contrary to the portrayal in the movie “Moneyball,” one former A’s player says he wasn’t aware of the revolutionary movement taking place in the team’s front office at the time.

“There was no talk of ‘Moneyball’ when I was there,” says ex-A’s pitcher Mark Mulder. “You never heard anything like that.”

Mulder, a current ESPN broadcaster, made his comments while watching his former A’s teammate Tim Hudson pitch on Wednesday Night Baseball on ESPN.

“Moneyball” is the name of a book about the success the low-budget A’s achieved from 1999-2006 despite competing against teams that had the financial means to buy better players. The best-selling book was later turned into an Academy Award-nominated movie.

The term “Moneyball” represents the way the A’s searched for economic deficiencies in the marketplace that would allow them to compete despite having little money available for their payroll. (at the time they realized that players with good on-base percentages were undervalued). The movie made it seem like GM Billy Beane was in the clubhouse interacting with the players and teaching them about some of the principles, and that the media was aware of everything. Mulder doesn’t remember it that way, and he says he wasn’t aware anything special was going on in the front office.

“It was just a thought that Billy (Beane) did a great job with what we had,” he said while calling the game for ESPN.

One of Mulder’s partners brought up the Moneyball topic during the telecast. Mulder says he hasn’t seen the movie, but he did provide his theory for why the team lost in the first round of the playoffs four years in a row.

“We had a lot of young, talented guys that enjoyed playing the game. I think a lot of times we didn’t even realize how good we were. We didn’t realize at times how good we were, so when we got to those playoffs, we didn’t have those veteran guys to lead us through some of that stuff.”

“When it comes to playoff baseball, you need to have those veteran guys. You need to have those leaders that understand how the playoffs work and how those pressures work.

“We didn’t know how to win, and we didn’t know how to close out series.”

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