David Beckham is the talk of the sports world and perhaps the biggest thing to ever happen to the MLS. And while Beckham has hit Southern California, making the Galaxy MLS' version of the Yankees, Moneyball's favorite GM may be coming to the league as well.
Billy Beane is coming to the MLS, hoping to change the way you think about soccer.
Beane is a soccer nut, and the owner of the A's (his boss) just resurrected the San Jose Earthquakes last week. When the team starts off again in 2008 "Beane could use Major League Soccer as a laboratory, testing whatever theories of soccer analysis he might conjure up."
"Billy is going to be deeply involved in soccer for us," said Lew Wolff, managing partner of the A's and now the Earthquakes. "We're actually looking at some of Billy's concepts on how to evaluate players. We're trying to find out how we can apply some of Billy's thinking."It would take a superhero to be able to run two different sports franchises the way Beane hopes so. And the way he's depicted as micromanaging the A's in Moneyball makes one wonder if it's possible to do. But if anyone thinks he can, it would be Beane.
Beane has been so successful being the thrifty guy in an ecosystem full of big-spenders. Despite having an extremely low payroll, they haven't had a losing season since 1998, making the playoffs a number of times (it should be noted that the A's are on pace for a losing campaign this season). And the MLS is a totally different game, with a vastly different economic system than that which Beane is used to being constricted by.
Beane's systems and metrics have allowed him to find the best bargains with great success. But imagine what he could do in the MLS, where every player is a bargain. Considering that only six MLS players have annual salaries above the major league minimum of $380,000, Beane probably looks at this as a level playing field, or more likely one that he can exploit.
Major League Soccer is on a roll. It's got David Beckham and a place on the world radar. With the likes of Billy Beane interested now, it couldn't ask for a better situation. And don't be surprised to see the San Jose Earthquakes in the playoffs come 2009.