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Sports & Recreation

Best General Manager 

Billy Beane, Oakland A's

He's probably the best in all of baseball, and certainly the best in any sport around here. Beane, a former ballplayer whose career never took off, became GM for the A's before the 1998 season and proceeded to revolutionize the game: He has proved that cash-poor teams can still win. Last year, for instance, after losing former league MVP Jason Giambi to the Yankees, the A's finished 103-59, a game better than in 2001. How did he do it? Beane put a brutal faith in statistics -- once the domain of hobbyists, but never of baseball executives -- and for several years, hired Harvard grads to stare at box scores and suss out dollar values for various attributes (speed, batting average, on-base percentage). Here, finally, was a GM who took a sober approach to the most sentimental of games -- and it worked. Both stat geeks and tightwads rejoiced.


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