As I write this, something wonderful is happening in Chicago: There is excitement about winning an October baseball game for the first time in 12 years.1 The Chicago Cubs are finally back in the playoffs. As every Chicago Cubs fan knows, it has been a long road back from our last World Series win in 1908. In 2003, the Cubs were one game from going to the World Series, leading the Florida Marlins three games to one, but went on to lose three consecutive games to the eventual champions. Since then, the Cubs compiled a cumulative regular season record of 90 games below .500 and lost all six of their playoff games, bringing their postseason losing streak to nine games. Until this year.
Twelve years ago, in our June 2003 report, I wrote about the Michael Lewis book "Moneyball." It tells the story of how Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane built a team that made the postseason, even though it had one of the lowest payrolls in major league baseball. Beane used advanced statistics to identify valuable players whom other teams had given up on. (I liked how Beane’s approach resembled Oakmark’s approach to buying stocks.) In 2002, after taking the A’s to the playoffs for three consecutive years, Beane turned down an offer from the Boston Red Sox to become baseball’s highest-paid general manager. Continue Reading »