The story of “Moneyball” has chronicled the story of Paul DePodesta, Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, both on screen and in print.
What “Moneyball” doesn’t portray is the other side of the story.
DePodesta— then an intern with the Indians— was hired away from Cleveland by Beane, the GM of the Athletics, who knew of the intern’s analytical background.
Of course, from that point forward, the “Moneyball” story unraveled, as the tandem put together a team that won 20-straight games in 2002, relying primarily on sabermetrics, or baseball analytics, to do so.
The story became increasingly popular over time, but what happened to the Indians— the team from which DePodesta was hired away?
As it turns out, the man who replaced DePodesta in the Tribe's front office became quite crucial to Cleveland.
That man was current Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti, a Georgetown and University of Massachusetts graduate, who took over DePodesta's position in 1999 and has been friends with him ever since.
“When Paul left to go to Oakland, I took his spot here, so we overlapped for about a month or so during that transition,” Antonetti said. “We've both been in the game for a while and we've developed that relationship over time as peers. He's someone I stay in regular touch with.”
Antonetti and DePodesta may not overlap in the same front office again, but nearly 20 years later, they’ll find themselves working quite close to each other.
With Antonetti as the the Tribe's President, DePodesta— who’s been in baseball for 20 years— was hired Tuesday by the Cleveland Browns as the team’s Chief Strategy Officer.
In said role, “DePodesta will be responsible for assessing and implementing best practices and strategies that will provide the organization with the comprehensive resources needed to make optimal decisions,” according to owner Jimmy Haslam.
Having known DePodesta since the pre-Moneyball days of 1999, Antonetti seems to believe that the Browns’ new executive will be more than capable of success in his new role, despite transitioning to an entirely different sport.
“I think Paul's a brilliant and innovative guy. He's made a huge impact on a number of organizations that he's been with and he's got a really unique way of looking at things and finding ways to attack and work through problem, and develop innovative solutions,” Antonetti said. “I think all of those things kind of transcend any one individual sport.”
DePodesta, a Harvard graduate and former Crimson football and baseball player, is a man known mainly for his analytical approach to baseball, which he will now help to bring to the football field.
Again, however, it’s not just his analytical approach that helps Antonetti to believe DePodesta will be a great hire for the Browns.
Rather, it’s a different style of thinking— a brilliant style, per many— that would make DePodesta such a valuable asset to any organization.
“He's a really thoughtful person who can think about systems and processes and just different ways to work through problems that help organizations develop,” Antonetti said. “Paul would be extraordinarily successful in any industry as an executive, whether that was baseball, football or running a Fortune 500 company.”
Now, DePodesta is one of the main men in charge of the Cleveland Browns and as he moves close to his friend Antonetti, he’s looking forward to coming back to where “Moneyball” really began.
“Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart,” DePodesta said, in a press release Tuesday. “As excited as I was then, I am even more excited now to return to Cleveland and to try to help the Browns.”
For all of your Indians news and updates from Cleveland, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.