Alvin Richardson

If you are a baseball geek like me you’ve probably seen the movie “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt who portrays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. It tells the story of how Beane used a system developed by Bill James to evaluate players in a revolutionary new way using a hybrid method of statistics and economics. 

Beane went down that road because his team was located in a “small market” town and didn’t have the financial resources to secure and pay the best players in the game. Thus, they couldn’t compete for a world championship.

After I saw the movie it occurred to me that I, along with many of my brethren that love to hunt, golf, fish and otherwise participate in outdoor sports, have some of the same problems. We are trying to compete with “small market” pocketbooks and cannot truly reach our potential as outdoorsmen, no matter which sport we choose.

Take for example hunting. How in the world can I hope to be a crack shot unless the guns and ammunition I buy are the best? The problem is I don’t have enough money to buy the most expensive equipment available and therefore have to settle for shotguns and rifles with crooked barrels. Even though I search high and low at quality yard sales the guns I purchase do not shoot straight. I know this is true because every time I go dove or duck hunting my companions have more kills and fewer misses than I do. I’m as athletic as the next guy and my glasses are still less than an inch thick, so my equipment must be malfunctioning.

If you take this premise a step further, it can be logically assumed that I don’t kill as many deer as my rich friends because my gear is sub-standard or non-existent. Trail cameras are way too expensive and the hand-me-downs I receive are just a way of throwing out the trash for those “big market” guys. 

My homemade deer stand is a butt-killing death trap. If it doesn’t crumble and send me tumbling to the earth it will certainly rub enough blisters on my hind parts to severely limit hunting time. Meanwhile, my well-off buddies are lounging in the comfort of covered stands complete with heaters and TV monitors of their trail cameras.

Another disadvantage I have is that I can’t afford the array of scent blockers used by the upper-crust of hunting society. I go into the woods with some “Hot to Squat” scent bought via a discount at my local pharmacy. That product virtually guarantees I will go into the woods smelling like a cougar and deer will be sprinting from the scene.

My fishing exploits run into similar problems. I don’t have the means to buy a tricked-out bass boat. My last foray with motorized boats was with a 1975 model that finally tuckered out. I spent $800 to get it running again, and on her maiden voyage, the newly reconstructed engine blew a gasket. I then followed suit with a blow-up of my own at the spurious boat fixer who told me he didn’t guarantee his work. I should have known that when I originally took my craft to his shop, which was located under some shady trees behind a single-wide trailer. I am now limited to john boats with electric motors and simply cannot compete with the big boys of the sport.

Same thing goes for my rods and reels. I take quite a bit of flack from some of my fishing partners concerning the state of my gear. Most of my reels make funny noises, do not throw smoothly and are notoriously full of old kinked up line. I can’t help it if the hicks I bought this stuff from didn’t take care of it in the first place. And another thing: who has enough money to buy rolls and rolls of that overpriced fishing line only to backlash it and have to cut it out? 

Golf is another problem as well. My clubs were made by some company no one ever heard of and never will because they are no longer in business. The golf balls I hit have weird names or are marked as x-outs. My golf scores are regularly higher than those of my competitors that have nicer clubs and shiny new balls with top-shelf names printed on them.

You see what I mean. My financial status is severely impacting my ability to reach full potential in the sporting world much as the case was with Billy Beane and his Oakland A’s. They used economics and statistical analysis to find players that could help them win a championship but my efforts at using the same strategy are not working. Yard sales, knock-off brands, x-outs, hand me downs, and shade tree 

mechanics are saving me a lot of money but are not taking me to the upper tier of outdoor sports.

In retrospect, I think the “Moneyball” idea is a fraud and therefore, I am doomed to a life of being the least successful outdoorsman in the history of mankind.

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