No, but to do better-than-expected. Even if I didn't know it was a true story I would have assumed it was because the following are very rare or odd in a fictional story:
- At the end of the team doesn't win- it just does better than expected. In the typical sports movie the underdog pulls it all together and wins. In some the underdogs loses but they are now better people or something. In an episode of Cheers where they were the underdog to Gary's Tavern in a bloody mary making contest the Cheers gang cheats and wins. But in Moneyball, and in NO other sports (or contest) movie that I know of, does the underdog do better-than-expected in an undramatic matter. This is NOT a complaint- just note that its real life.
- In Moneyball the General Manager wants to try out mathematical methods and the Manager resists. In most movies its the suits that are wrong and the people on the ground that are right. This is even a theme of many articles about business that I read in magazines on airplanes. So this inversion is odd - but again, you can't argue that a true story is unrealistic or undramatic.
- Bill Beane, the one who wants to use math techniques, thinks that what Baseball scounts look for is the wrong thing. In fact, they misjudged him when he was a young player. But in what direction?--- they thought he was BETTER than he was. If this was a fictional story surely the scouts would think he was WORSE than he was.
In academia we do clean things up for a better story line. If the true motivation for working on a problem doesn't really make sense when you see the final paper, we change our motivation. Our original proof is intuitive but ugly, so we change it to be polished but less clear where it came from. Historians often simplfiy to make sense of things. I am NOT complaining- merely asking, do we do it too much?
When I was in ninth grade and was told that you could solve a quadratic equation (I rederived the quadratic formula once a month to make sure I could), a cubic, a a quartic, but not quintic, I immediately said "I want to goto College to learn why you can't solve a quintic" That sparked my interest in math.
Is the above story true? I am sure that in ninth grade I did learn that the quintic was unsolvable and that was of great interest to me, and I really did rederive the quadratic equation once a month. And I was interested to learn that the quintic was not solvable. But I really doubt the story is as clean as presented above. Even so, the story is true in spirit. However, I would not want to push the point.
How about you? Do you tell stories about yourself or about others that are just a little too polished? Not so much false, and not even to put yourself in a better light, but just a little to clean to have really happened.