Baseball Books

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a thread for talking about baseball books.

actually, i'm just starting this because i ordered the neyer/james guide to pitchers the other day. it's basically an enyclopedia of pitchers and pitches. i'm trying to find a nice bullet outline somewhere but it apparently contains:

-articles describing all the major pitches, how they're thrown, what they do, who threw them the best, etc
-a register of every major mlb pitcher (1000 innings/400 games) and their repetoires
-assorted pitcher biographies and pitching-related essays

there's an excerpt, obviously written by james, over at espn:

John (jdahlem), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 03:04 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm glad you brought up this topic. I had a couple of hours to kill the other day between work and my softball game, so I spent most of that time at B&N reading through parts of Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups. Mainly I just read the Astros chapter. Fascinating stuff. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about the team that I thought I knew everything about, so I can only imagine what kind of info the rest of the book contains.

Another one I ran across that looked pretty cool was something called 9 Innings by Daniel Okrent. Basically, its a pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning account of a 1982 regular season game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Baltimore Orioles, with lots of back story woven in about the players, managers, and owners (including one Bud Selig). I read till about two outs in the top of the first and witnessed a Lenn Sekata leadoff homer off of Bob McClure. It reads somewhat like it's aimed at the baseball novice, but it's not too dumbed down to be enjoyable.

boldbury (boldbury), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 04:26 (fifteen years ago) link

I just bought the Neyer/James Pitchers Book last weekend, have only thumbed through it so far; there's not only the "census" section of all notable hurlers in history (well, no Kyle Farnsworth, but Brandon Webb, Firpo Marberry and Charlie Brown are in there) and what they threw, but essays on some HOF-quality non-HOF pitchers (Tommy Bridges, Bob Friend) and a detailed glossary of pitch types. (btw, James says in the intro that Neyer -- his former assistant -- did most of the work.)

The Neyer Lineups book is well worth getting too, years of bathroom enjoyment to be had.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 12:39 (fifteen years ago) link

The Neyer Lineups book is well worth getting too, years of bathroom enjoyment to be had.

Seriously Morbs. Years? There aren't that many photos in the book.

boldbury (boldbury), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 13:59 (fifteen years ago) link

Clearly you underestimate the appeal of baggy wool.

David R. (popshots75`), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 14:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Wait til you guys hit 40 and spend more time in the john.

Neyer & James on ESPN chat yesterday:

One of the Ed Linn books James recommends, the co-authored autobio "Veeck as in Wreck," I recall from my dad's bookshelf; probably the first baseball book I read most of, succeeded by Roger Kahn's profanely nostalgic "The Boys of Summer" on the '50s Dodgers (and Kahn's '30s/40s boyhood).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 15:29 (fifteen years ago) link

Wait til you guys hit 40 and spend more time in the john.

Oh, I hear ya. The men in my family call it the "Oldbury Curse".

Maybe this was TMI.

boldbury (boldbury), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 15:33 (fifteen years ago) link

ooooh I so need Veeck as in Wreck.

hstencil (hstencil), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 16:02 (fifteen years ago) link

i've read: moneyball, the recent koufax bio (eh), ball four (great! otto's recommendation).

I am getting started on "The Boys Of Summer" (morbius' recommendation). it's a little bit more sepia toned but i like it so far.

gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:25 (fifteen years ago) link

George Will's "Men at Work" is a good read.

earlnash, Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:30 (fifteen years ago) link

i don't think i've ever tried a...narrative style baseball book (ie something you'd read from beginning to end), other than moneyball. but i might try one or two of the rec's on this thread some time.

as for flip open and read baseball books, every fan should own a copy of james' NHBA. am i the only person here who has a copy? i hawk it at every opportunity everywhere because i'm sure it would appeal to anyone with an interest in the game.

so "profanely nostalgic" is a compliment?? i guess i read that differently.

John (jdahlem), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:38 (fifteen years ago) link

David Halberstam's books on the '64 Cardinals and the '49 Sox/Yankees are good reads.

I saw a new book at Barnes & Noble following a season in the Cape Cod League, but I'll wait to take a chance on it in paperback.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:41 (fifteen years ago) link

"David Halberstam's books on the '64 Cardinals and the '49 Sox/Yankees are good reads."
i'm immediately interested in both of these. "summer of 49" and "october 1964"?

the cape cod league has always fascinated me, the "summer in maine" aspect of it as much as anything else.

John (jdahlem), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:47 (fifteen years ago) link

That's the two. I see them at used bookstores all the time, if you've got one near you. I got a hardcover "Summer of '49" for $5 a few weeks ago.

'49 is U&K if you're a Yankees fan. He paints a really nice portrait of Joe D., which may or may be complete BS, but I prefer to believe it's true.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:50 (fifteen years ago) link

the NY Times review bummed me on the idea of the new '86 Mets book. Not enough specifics on drugging and whoring.

hstencil (hstencil), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:59 (fifteen years ago) link

I came damn close to picking up the Mets book to see how the other half lived, but decided to wait since I hadn't heard anything about it.

I'll big up Ball Four and the Halberstam books, and add Tom Adelman's The Long Ball, which is about the '75 season (ostensibly it's about the Series, but it really rambles through the season like one of those four-page SI pre-playoffs recaps, except book-length). I've also got this big monstrosity called The Baseball Chronicle -- I can't see from here who the publisher is -- that sold cheap at the discount tables at Barnes & Noble and covers highlights year by year up to ... 2001, I think, maybe 2002.

I have The Physics of Baseball sitting on my desk waiting to be read, but it's still waiting.

Ken Burns' book doesn't seem like it's actually meant to be read, so I suppose it's a good baseball coffeetable book.

Spaceman's Little Red Sox Book is fun -- I keep meaning to buy it, but just ... well, read a chapter or two at a time in the bookstore, to be honest. It's pretty slim.

And I've only read excerpts of and articles by Roger Angell, but he seems worth picking up.

Tep (ktepi), Thursday, 17 June 2004 12:04 (fifteen years ago) link

(And in case novels come up, let me caution you against W.P. Kinsella's If Wishes Were Horses, which is so relentlessly terrible it made me like his good stuff less.)

Tep (ktepi), Thursday, 17 June 2004 12:15 (fifteen years ago) link

I can't give you a citation, Milo, but Halberstam's two books have been nailed for being absolutely riddled with factual errors -- easily checkable ones. I recall DiMag was reported to hate the '49 book for whatever reasons.

You said in the other thread someone gave you "Win Shares." Man, that's one James book I knew was NOT for me -- too much pure theory. And he said in the ESPN chat this week "I made four significant mistakes in the design of Win Shares; four that I know of. I am making notes about a next-generation of Win Shares..." So why lay out $20 for a work in progress?

Like I was telling h at the park last night, a friend reports "The Bad Guys Won" is worth it just for dumb ballplayer anecdotes, and the excerpt I read involving the Animal House destruction of the post-pennant-winning charter flight out of Houston (complete with puking wives) was good Flushing Confidential stuff. Nothing about Keith Hernandez's rumored liaison with the San Diego Chicken, alas.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 17 June 2004 13:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Kinsella's Iowa Baseball Confederacy is terrible, too. The only good baseball-related fiction I've read was Philip Roth's Great American Novel

I kind of figured Halberstam's books leaned toward the fiction end when it comes to actual facts, but it doesn't bother me that much.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Thursday, 17 June 2004 19:03 (fifteen years ago) link

I'd make a joke about the facts not bothering milo much but I'll refrain.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 17 June 2004 19:09 (fifteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Alan Schwarz, guy who does the Sunday NY Times "new stats" column Keeping Score, has a history of baseball stats I just finished, "The Numbers Game":

Filled with stuff I didn't know, from the 1860s through 2004 (did you know this was the first year Topps hadOPS on the back of cards?), from Henry Chadwick (father of the boxscore as we know it) to VOROS McCRACKEN and beyond! Many of you will beshocked at how OLD many sabermetric concepts are... It's also quite hilarious how, in the Stone Age of computers, so many stat mavens worked for the military and used the mainframes to run their baseball numbers at night. Stuff on Strat-o-Matic andother games, the Elias Bureau vs Bill James war, STATS Inc, and how Oakland became the first on-base-centric franchise TWENTY YEARS before Billy Beane (via Sandy Alderson and Steve Boros).

(particularly recommended to Alex in SF)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 22 November 2004 15:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Hahaha fuck off.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Monday, 22 November 2004 16:46 (fourteen years ago) link

I'll check it out though. It looks interesting enough.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Monday, 22 November 2004 16:52 (fourteen years ago) link

Let's play nice!

gygax! (gygax!), Monday, 22 November 2004 17:31 (fourteen years ago) link

We are! I'm totally sincere in wanting Alex to read it, and am never offended by a friendly "Fuck off."

Has anyone seen the new Bill James handbook? Coliseum Books on 42nd usually has it by now...

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 22 November 2004 17:45 (fourteen years ago) link

the sandy alderson stuff was mentioned, practically in passing, in moneyball! i didn't get that either, must've been because it didn't mesh well enough w/ the narrative, or had to edited out for length. it was like "billy beane would be NOTHING w/out sandy alderson, who did all this shit before he did. ok moving on"

John (jdahlem), Monday, 22 November 2004 18:40 (fourteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...
i seem to remember reading a little while ago about a new book coming out by some top baseball website that was all about last year's red sox world series win, but i now can't work out what it is - anyone? and is it any good?

also, tips of books for someone who knows pretty much nothing about baseball, except for what i managed to glean from watching a few games on tv, would be appreciated.

toby (tsg20), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 10:35 (thirteen years ago) link

Baseball Prospectus' "Mind Game" book

Yes, it's good.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 14:37 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm reading The Wrong Stuff by Bill "Spaceman" Lee right now... it's pretty hilarious.

gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 16:02 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

friend of a friend is putting out a graphic novel about satchel paige and jim crow...

j.q higgins, Thursday, 13 December 2007 18:56 (eleven years ago) link

the new Connie Mack bio by Norman Macht is sposed to be definitive.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 December 2007 19:57 (eleven years ago) link

three months pass...

I am enjoying that Neyer/James Book of Pitchers.

Got randyrolled yesterday.

Instead of the copy of Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch that I ordered, I got this.

felicity, Thursday, 3 April 2008 20:28 (eleven years ago) link

Oh! I just read about that book and "wa" in the Cubs spring program.

It said that cultural differences between Japan and America were responsible for the Giants' inability to retain Manasori Murikami after 1965. Apparently the MLB negotiators were more strict in their reading of the reserve clause, whereas the Japanese expected the "spririt" of the deal to prevail. The article was pretty brief but I gather that the "spirit" referred to was that NPB used to send "non-prospects" to the U.S. for seasoning, and when Murikami turned into an actual MLB prspect, they felt that he should go back to Japan, despite the literal meaning of the contract language. It sounds like Murikami (semi-) voluntarily returned to NLP, even though he technically could have stayed in the U.S. under his contract.

I guess it was only because Nomo found some sort of legal loophole in the standard NLP contract that allowed him to sign with the Dodgers in the 1980s. Perhaps that represented some historical cultural shift in Japan's attitude to contract. More recently they seem to have stood on the letter of contract (much to their profit).

It didn't explain the "posting" process that well. Apparently Fukudome didn't have to be posted like other recent Japanese players.

"Wa" (group harmony) is neat. Let us bury our tomahawks and have wa on ILBB.

felicity, Friday, 4 April 2008 15:30 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

Just read Summer of '49 -- was kinda hoping for a 50/50 split regarding Sox / Yankees nostalgia-tinted schmooze, & not back-in-the-day when-men-were-men Yankeeography action clumsily intercut w/ "these are fans!" anecdotes. (Unrelated: every time DH leaned on Triple Crown stats or W-L records, I rolled my eyes.) Some cool stories & quotes & stuff, but doesn't really seem to congeal as a book so much, and "the great DiMaggio" can go fart in a hat.

Also read excerpts of that O'Nan / King 2004 Red Sox diary thing a while back. Whatever interest I had in pro-RSN propoganda was totally squelched by that piece of shit.

NB: I hate everything. :p

David R., Friday, 13 June 2008 17:39 (eleven years ago) link

the o'nan/king book was interesting early because that team did take a dip that looked like it would be their annual august swoon and o'nan totally starts ripping the team. but when they hold on and the playoffs it was too much even for me.

chicago kevin, Friday, 13 June 2008 17:47 (eleven years ago) link

mookieproof, Saturday, 14 June 2008 03:14 (eleven years ago) link

I read "Summer of '49" when I was fifteen or so. I found it a bit long-winded and boring. No need to revisit it, I guess? :)

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 15 June 2008 15:33 (eleven years ago) link

apparently it's full of errors.

Dr Morbius, Monday, 16 June 2008 14:56 (eleven years ago) link

eight months pass...

We're pleased to make two major announcements to the SABR membership and the baseball community at large:

1) SABR is now the publisher of The Emerald Guide to Baseball, and
2) SABR is making the PDF version of The Emerald Guide to Baseball 2009 available as a FREE download from the members-only section of the website (and be sure to direct friends and family to so they can get a copy too).

Edited by acclaimed baseball historians (and SABR members) Gary Gillette and Pete Palmer, The Emerald Guide distills the 2008 season down to 586 fact-filled pages that contain the pitching, fielding, and hitting statistics for every player active in the major and minor leagues in 2008. The Emerald Guide fills the hole in the baseball record left by the 2006 demise of the Sporting News Baseball Guide and contains all of the same features and then some, such as team-by-team daily results, a directory of important contacts, and a synopsis of the just-completed season. A bound version of The Emerald Guide is available via print on demand at for $23.94.

Making the PDF of The Emerald Guide available fre to anyone with accesss to a computer is a direct way for SABR to fulfill its mission of disseminating the history and record of baseball. And you, our members, help the organization fulfill this mission each and every day. One of our objectives is for to be bookmarked by everyone with a serious interest in baseball. The Emerald Guide offers a step in that direction.

SABR plans to publish The Emerald Guide annually. Gillette and Palmer also authored 2007 and 2008 editions of The Emerald Guide (co-published with Sports-Reference). Free PDF versions of these editions are also available from the SABR website.

Thank you for your commitment to SABR and its mission. We hope you enjoy The Emerald Guide to Baseball 2009.


John Zajc, Executive Director,c,2766,36,0

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 11 March 2009 20:28 (ten years ago) link

fwiw, i third (?) bellisarius and felicity's recommendation of you gotta have wa. it provides a lot of interesting history of japanese baseball even if it's bit dated at this point. it would be interesting to see a new edition taking into account ichiro, matsui et al on one hand and bobby valentine on the other.

anybody have an opinion on that somewhat recent dimaggio bio? i think the author was richard cramer?

j.q higgins, Thursday, 12 March 2009 11:56 (ten years ago) link

has anone bought the Fielding Bible II? Froma BP interview with author John Dewan:

The one thing I'd bring up that was kind of fun, was the analysis of Nate McLouth and Carlos Gomez; McLouth won a Gold Glove, and Gomez didn't. Carlos Gomez had the most defensive misplays in center field, which is a characteristic of young players that we've found; other young players up there are Delmon Young, B.J. Upton, and his brother, Justin Upton. All of these players have more defensive misplays. But Carlos Gomez covers so much more ground, that it just shows through on the number of runs saved. The difference that we found between Nate McLouth and Carlos Gomez was amazingly straightforward. Simply, Gomez is covering ground in deep center field, where fielding a ball is much more valuable, than Nate McLouth, who covers more ground in shallow center field, where making a catch means that you're saving a single. Gomez, meanwhile, is saving doubles and triples. It looks to be that the biggest problem for Nate McLouth is that he should play deeper. He has good skills and a lot of good fielding plays in our system, but when we break it down between shallow, medium, and deep, which is something we did in the book this year, he's plus on shallow balls, and minus on medium and deep.

also measures Varitek as worst recent Boston catcher, lol

Past a Diving Jeter (Dr Morbius), Friday, 20 March 2009 21:16 (ten years ago) link

Yeah that was weird though cuz it sort of seemed like the return of CERA which seems very suspect.

Alex in SF, Friday, 20 March 2009 21:28 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 SABR-Sporting News Awards: Ron Selter for Ballparks of the Deadball Era; Andy Strasberg, Bob Thompson and Tim Wiles for Baseball's Greatest Hit; and Jim Walker and Rob Bellamy for Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television. The winners will receive their awards on Saturday, August 1, 2009, in Washington, DC, at the JW Marriott, Pennsylvania Avenue during SABR's annual convention.

The Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award recognizes outstanding baseball research published in the previous calendar year in areas other than history and biography. The Award is designed to honor projects that do not fit the criteria for The Seymour Medal or the McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award. The Sporting News sponsors the $200 cash awards that accompany the honor.

Ballparks of the Deadball Era is Ronald Selter's comprehensive study of Deadball Era-ballparks and park effects, in which he shows the extent to which ballparks determined the style of play. Organized by major league city, this fact-filled, data-heavy commentary includes all 34 ballparks used by the American and National Leagues from 1901 through 1919.

In Baseball's Greatest Hit, Strasberg, Thompson, and Wiles present the complete story of the third-most frequently sung song in America: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The book features countless photos and illustrations, providing a pictorial history of the song’s influence on the game and American culture. A bonus CD is also included, which features many rare and classic recordings of the song from artists such as Dr. John, the Ray Brown Trio, Carly Simon, and George Winston.

In Center Field Shot, Walker and Bellamy trace the sometimes contentious but mutually beneficial relationship between baseball and television, from the first televised game in 1939 to the contemporary era of Internet broadcasts, satellite radio, and high-definition TV. Ultimately, the association of baseball with television emerges as a reflection American culture at large.

Dr Morbius, Friday, 22 May 2009 01:19 (ten years ago) link

seven months pass...

Baseball America's top ten of '09:

Rage, Resentment, Spleen (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 5 January 2010 08:55 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

dude's got a blog too!

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 00:26 (nine years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Saw two today I really want to read:

I don't remember the '76 season being as memorable as '75 or '77, but Epstein's '70s book was really good, so I'm sure he'll turn up lots I've forgotten or never knew. Stuff I do remember: Fidrych, the AL batting race, Sparky Anderson's condescension towards Munson after the World Series.

clemenza, Sunday, 30 September 2018 17:58 (ten months ago) link

i feel like being a fan in the '70s would have made for some good times. i'm too young to remember anything from the '70s (43 yrs old here) beyond a faint awareness of peak '70s baseball guys Dave Kingman and Bill Buckner (i grew up near Chicago), I just remember that I started watching the Cubs in 1982 -- rookie year Sandberg, Leon Durham hitting what seemed like a million home runs (uh, 22), and as a kid my favorite player was Bump Wills because...his name was Bump. Also I very faintly remember people talking up a young OFer named Mel Hall...oops.

omar little, Sunday, 30 September 2018 19:18 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

Hundred pages into Stars and Strikes, really enjoying it. The '70s are still (and I guess always will be) my favourite decade for baseball. Obviously, nostalgia is a big part of that, but I'd also agree with something James once wrote, that the decade was a perfect mix of a whole bunch of different approaches to the game. Lots of 40+ HR guys, topped by Foster's 52 in '77; Carew threatened .400 more than once, and there was an endless assortment of other speedy, high-average players like Garr and Templeton and Rivers (many of whom don't fare well using modern metrics, but they were fun and exciting at the time); historically flashy seasons by starters (Carlton, Blue, Guidry), and the beginnings of the modern closer (bad for the game from this vantage point, but Marshall and McGraw and Hrabosky and Gossage and Fingers were all memorable). That was the biggest thing--so many characters. Don't have the book beside me, but there's this little detour about John Montefusco ("The Count," 1975's ROY) getting a big raise the next year and hosting a party at the San Francisco Playboy Club that kind of sums up the decade for me. Again, not cool by today's standards. I know.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 11:47 (nine months ago) link

Wasn't aware of (or, more like, had forgotten) some of the backstage drama over Toronto getting a franchise. The two leagues were fighting over the city at one point; the AL had given them the team after the whole Giants thing fell through, at which point the NL decided they wanted both Toronto and Washington, so they tried to block it. Meanwhile, the Seitz-Messersmith-McNally case was working its way through the courts, and Marvin Miller complained that the owners were so fixated on the Toronto issue, it was hard to get them to the table for negotiations.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 11:53 (nine months ago) link

One other thing that made it a great decade: a bunch of memorable WS.

1970 - only 5 games, but legendary defense from Brooks Robinson
1971 - 7 games, Pirates come back from 3-1 deficit, Clemente
1972 - 7 games, first A's title
1973 - 7 games, wild A's win over the barely .500 Mets
1974 - 5 games; one of two lousy Series
1975 - 7 games, on the short list of greatest-ever
1976 - 4 games, the other lousy Series
1977 - 6 games, Bronx Zoo, Reggie's 3 in a row
1978 - 6 games, more of the same, Welch strikes out Reggie
1979 - 7 games, Pirates come back from 3-1 (again), We Are Family

Seven great ones for sure, maybe eight, depending upon how you rate the Brooks Robinson Show. Sad and embarrassed to say I didn't watch the '79 Series--pretentious first-year university student who had put baseball behind him.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 18:45 (nine months ago) link

I read "Big Hair ..." a few months ago and I'll probably buy this one as well. A lot of the stories in that book left me wanting a more detailed treatment.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 19:43 (nine months ago) link

So I'm heading to Houston in May and figure to include a baseball game or two, are there any must reads on Houston or Texas baseball?

You (bleeping) need me. You can't Finn without me (fionnland), Tuesday, 30 October 2018 19:57 (nine months ago) link

Jim Bouton's I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, which covers his '70 season with the Astros. (He's in Houston for part of Ball Four, too.) "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be an Astro" is a basic text.

Now, the Astros are a team that likes to go out on the town,
We like to drink and fight and fuck till curfew comes around
Then it's time to make the trek,
We better be back to buddy's check,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, Edwards is our catcher and he's really No. 1,
Dave Bristol said he drinks too much and calls some long home runs,
But we think John will be all right,
If we keep him in his room at night,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, our pitching staff's composed of guys who think they're pretty cool,
With a case of Scotch, a greenie and an old beat-up whirlpool,
We'll make the other hitters laugh,
Then calmly break their bats in half,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, Harry Walker is the one that manages this crew,
He doesn't like it when we drink and fight and smoke and screw,
But when we win our game each day,
Then what the fuck can Harry say?
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 21:18 (nine months ago) link

(Not a lot to do with George Springer, though, if that's more what you're looking for.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 21:20 (nine months ago) link

Sounds ideal thanks! will let you know how I get on with it

You (bleeping) need me. You can't Finn without me (fionnland), Wednesday, 31 October 2018 22:22 (nine months ago) link

Didn't know a thing about this till just now. Rob Neyer's a great writer.

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 23:20 (nine months ago) link

(It uses an Astros-A's playoff game from last year as a snapshot of "the myriad ways in which Major League Baseball has changed over the last few decades.")

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 23:21 (nine months ago) link

that's one crazy guitar chord

na (NA), Thursday, 1 November 2018 01:28 (nine months ago) link

that's one crazy guitar chord

na (NA), Thursday, 1 November 2018 01:28 (nine months ago) link

you can say that again!

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 1 November 2018 04:25 (nine months ago) link

From the Dan Epstein 1976 book: when the Angels brought Tommy Davis out of retirement in June, he was working as a promo guy for Casablanca Records (just taking off with Destroyer and "Love to Love You Baby"). Dick Williams would catch him shaving and making phone calls between innings. (For some truly inscrutable MVP support, look at Davis's 10th place finish in '73. He was a DH who slugged under .400.)

clemenza, Saturday, 3 November 2018 13:21 (nine months ago) link

Neyer is the guest on the latest EW podcast (2nd half)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 3 November 2018 14:19 (nine months ago) link

A couple more from Epstein (there's no end to them).

Long relief: Dick Tidrow relieves Ed Figueroa in the 7th inning of a 4-4 game vs. the Twins. He pitches 10.2 innings, gives up four hits and no runs.

Most highbrow promotion ever: Bill Veeck's "Ragtime Night," where they give away 10,000 copies of E.L. Doctorow's novel.

clemenza, Saturday, 3 November 2018 15:51 (nine months ago) link

Two things I took away from the Epstein book:

1) How contentious player-manager relationships could be through the '70s. It was such a regular thing for players to badmouth their managers publically. Most of the managers were still old-school autocrats, and they'd often try to enforce dress codes and haircuts and whatever they felt like; on top of that, big money was starting to creep in, baseball was catching up to the contentiousness of the '60s, and managers fought (and resented) that. You hardly ever hear about player-manager friction anymore. (I don't think, anyway--am I wrong on that?) Managers had to adapt. I don't know who the last old-school-type manager was...Pinella?

2) That, in his own bumbling way--and based on personal vendetta--Kuhn might have accidentally made the right call on Charlie Finley's rebuked fire sale. (That's my opinion, not Epstein's.) Legally, Kuhn had no standing whatsoever--as Finley pointed out (to no avail), owners had been selling off players forever. But this was just as free agency was about to kick in. I wonder if it would have been too much shock to the system all at once. I can see where all the other owners, panicked over the loss of the reserve clause, might have followed Finley's lead and automatically tried to sell anybody and everybody playing out his contract (partly as a punitive measure). I don't know--but I can see where player movement for those first couple of years might have been so drastic that teams would have been unrecognizable from year to year. Everything would have sorted itself out soon enough, I suppose, but, to use that deathless phrase, I'm not sure if selling off Blue, Fingers, and Rudi would have been in the best interests of the game, at least in the short term.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 November 2018 01:41 (nine months ago) link

Let's go with revoked fire sale instead.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 November 2018 01:42 (nine months ago) link

Selig cancelled that loan from FOX to Frank McCourt that more or less forced his hand in selling the Dodgers (for $2B -- even when the bad guys lose, sometimes they still win). Legally it was questionable but the commissioner does have the power to do things in "the best interest of baseball". Finley didn't really need the money, but he liked treating his players as cattle, even more so than regular owners. Kuhn's decision can't be viewed in a vacuum, it was the culmination of more than a decade of the league having the deal with Finley's BS, despite the fact that the team was very successful on the field (the Dodgers made the playoffs a bunch of times under McCourt's ownership too). But I really don't think Kuhn cared about avoiding a "shock to the system", he just wanted to hurt Finley. Kuhn was way behind the times on every labour issue of his tenure, I can't credit him with the foresight of "easing" MLB into the free agency era.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Thursday, 8 November 2018 12:31 (nine months ago) link

Don't disagree at all about Kuhn's motives (I said as much in my first sentence)--he wanted to fuck over Finley, pure and simple. If it had been O'Malley or Yawkey or one of the old-guard owners making the sale, Kuhn wouldn't have intervened. I just think he did the right thing--or at least, at that moment in time, the best thing--for the wrong reasons. If that sale had gone through, I think it would have been a couple of years of bedlam.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 November 2018 13:29 (nine months ago) link

Right, although I'm saying that even if the sales had been "bad for baseball" and led to a couple of years of bedlam (which I don't agree with), Kuhn would have made his move anyway because he never grasped what was good or bad for baseball in any context.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 9 November 2018 05:20 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

Started Jeff Katz's Split Season: 1981, the book I mentioned above. One of the big appeals of such books for me is taking note of major changes in the game. (Major changes from what seems like recent history--obviously such changes would be obvious if you read a book about Ted Williams or Cy Young.) Three for the few pages Katz spends on Len Barker's perfect game:

-- Barker was considered a hard thrower, sometimes erratically so; his fastball was clocked at 91 m.p.h.

-- Cleveland's PR guy had to get special permission from management to allow the Toronto Star's Alison Gordon into the clubhouse after the game.

-- The same PR guy arranged for the Today Show's Bryant Gumbel to speak to Barker the next morning (this had been the first perfect game since Catfish Hunter in 1968--it was national news). Barker cancelled because he wanted to sleep in. I'm trying to imagine a player today turning down a similar chance to (as I heard some YouTube analyst creepily say the other day) "leverage his brand."

clemenza, Sunday, 9 December 2018 17:11 (eight months ago) link

A couple of show-biz anecdotes from the split-season book:

1) John Gavin, Janet Leigh's boyfriend in Psycho, was Reagan's Ambassador to Mexico (he accompanies Valenzuela when the latter gets invited to the White House).

2) Doug DeCinces was a cousin of Lisa Loring, who played Wednesday on The Addams Family. (I had no idea DeCinces was convicted of insider trading a few months he is prison right now?)

clemenza, Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:19 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...

Neyer's Power Ball won the Casey Award for best baseball book of 2018. Has anyone else read it? I'd be interested in hearing what you thought. Honestly, I didn't like it that much--and I used to like Neyer's blog a lot. The baseball was fine, although it felt like a broad overview of very familiar terrain. The bigger problem I had was with the tone. Specifically all the exclamation marks. It was like the Seinfeld Jake Jarmel epsisode.

clemenza, Saturday, 26 January 2019 19:26 (six months ago) link

slightly OT, Neyer has started a podcast on the SABR site, it seems.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:00 (six months ago) link

The premise didn't interest me very much, even though I've loved reading Neyer's stuff for most of his career. Maybe I'll pick up this book after all.

I finished reading Jon Pessah's "The Game", everything up until the fallout from the '94 strike is excellent, with a lot of cool insider looks into what all sides were trying to accomplish. Once he reached the so-called Steroid Era I felt as though I wasn't learning much that I didn't already know, but then again I was following much more closely during that time.

His fawning over the Yankees and especially Steinbrenner gets to be a bit too much. Somehow big Stein avoids catching much flak and is presented as this visionary figure who sees the big picture in ways that the other owners and even (especially?) the commissioner can't see.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:23 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Didn't know this was out there.

I guess you could get a book out of it if you pull the camera back far enough. Intrigued.

clemenza, Thursday, 21 February 2019 01:03 (six months ago) link

Found a first-edition Boys of Summer today, very good shape, for next to nothing. It will take the place of the stolen library copy Brian Masini passed on to me 40 years ago (I've been waiting for the Georgetown Library's version of Mr. Bookman to track me down ever since). I've never read it.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 February 2019 00:59 (five months ago) link

i tried to read it as a 9-year-old (or so, can't remember exactly which year) and was disappointed that it wasn't more explicitly about playing baseball. i expect that i'd like it a lot more these days

Karl Malone, Sunday, 24 February 2019 01:00 (five months ago) link

as is true with a lot of things, like say, brusselsprouts

Karl Malone, Sunday, 24 February 2019 01:01 (five months ago) link

Yeah, I think I tried at the time (probably 14 or 15) and didn't get very far. I take it it's not a book that someone that age is going to appreciate.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 February 2019 01:04 (five months ago) link

Same here. Should probably read it again after some thirty years.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 24 February 2019 18:08 (five months ago) link

just picked up that book via someone giving it away on a local "free shit" FB group, got it along with Eight Men Out and W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe.

omar little, Sunday, 24 February 2019 18:57 (five months ago) link

I read Boys of Summer when I was 10 or 11 and loved it. So dirty.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 25 February 2019 02:11 (five months ago) link

three weeks pass...
two months pass...

out today, from Lindbergh and Sawchik

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 4 June 2019 15:54 (two months ago) link

three weeks pass...

About a third of the way into The MVP Machine, really didn't know the extent to which these independent coaches/entrepreneurs were changing player development among big leaguers (I knew about Trevor Bauer a little, not so much about Justin Turner -- or that Marlon Byrd had jumpstarted JT's renaissance). Anyway, a must read. (You'll be surprised to read about the relevance of the hippocampus size of London taxi drivers.)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 1 July 2019 16:16 (one month ago) link

Bud Selig has a book out, and Ben Lindbergh did this interview with him where Bud made many of his classic dubious claims. Then Ben ended the show with Superchunk's "I Guess I Remembered It Wrong."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 5 July 2019 12:55 (one month ago) link

Great retirement gift from a collector friend: Joshua Prager's The Echoing Green, signed by Bobby Thomson. (My friend says he has a bunch of things from Ralph Branca's estate.)

Just finished Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game. I didn't realize it's been around a while (published 2004) until I was close to the end--thought it was a newer book. Pretty eye-opening to find out how far back certain arguments and methodologies go back. Writers were complaining about fielding average (how it didn't measure a player's range) and RBI (opportunities not being equal) over a hundred years ago. F.C. Lane was working with linear weights in 1906. George Lindsey and Earnshaw Cook independently arrived at formulas based on situational matrices (outs/runners-on) almost 60 years ago. (I'd come across Cook's name before via Bill James.) My favourite stat in the book, though, was something someone came up with in 1910 to rank pitchers: winning percentage, batting average, and fielding average were added together, and Otis Crandall was determined to be the league's best pitcher with a 2.136 mark.

Books I'd love to have (checking around, they're either long-gone or unreasonably expensive online):

Ted Oliver: Kings of the Mound (1944)
Earnshaw Cook: Percentage Baseball (1964)
Harlan and Eldon Mills: Player Win Averages (1970)
Eric Walker: The Sinister First Baseman (1982)

I did find a PDF of Player Win Averages.

clemenza, Sunday, 7 July 2019 14:37 (one month ago) link


Now, the Astros are a team that likes to go out on the town,
We like to drink and fight and fuck till curfew comes around
Then it’s time to make the trek,
We better be back to buddy’s check,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, Edwards is our catcher and he’s really No. 1,
Dave Bristol said he drinks too much and calls some long home runs,
But we think John will be all right,
If we keep him in his room at night,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, our pitching staff’s composed of guys who think they’re ‘pretty cool,’
With a case of Scotch, a greenie and an old beat-up whirlpool,
We’ll make the other hitters laugh,
Then calmly break their bats in half,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

Now, Harry Walker is the one that manages this crew,
He doesn’t like it when we drink and fight and smoke and screw,
But when we win our game each day,
Then what the fuck can Harry say?
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 11 July 2019 00:25 (one month ago) link

They should do a Bouton bobblehead where his cap has come off.

timellison, Thursday, 11 July 2019 22:11 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

Found a used copy of this the other day:

Didn't know it was out there. Often my favourite kind of baseball book: start with something narrow (a game, a season), and then, if it's good, widen out from there.

clemenza, Tuesday, 6 August 2019 21:43 (two weeks ago) link

Saw this home movie footage of Marichal the other day:

On the hill with the Dominican Dandy (Part 1 of 2)

— Flagstaff Films (@Flagstafffilms) August 1, 2019

timellison, Tuesday, 6 August 2019 22:02 (two weeks ago) link

That motion is incredible. I kind of missed Marichal--he was still pitching when I became a fan, but at the very end of his career--but I'm grateful I got to see Tiant, Seaver, and Palmer's deliveries.

clemenza, Tuesday, 6 August 2019 22:05 (two weeks ago) link

because i like to dig, i found the game. i'm sure someone noted all this on twitter. this was the top of the 4th inning.

omar little, Tuesday, 6 August 2019 22:22 (two weeks ago) link

There's footage of Gibson from that day too on that same Twitter page.

timellison, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 00:04 (two weeks ago) link

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