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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen years ago) link

Clearly you underestimate the appeal of baggy wool.

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

ooooh I so need Veeck as in Wreck.

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

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

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

Hahaha fuck off.

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

Let's play nice!

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

Baseball Prospectus' "Mind Game" book

Yes, it's good.

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

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

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

Belisarius, Friday, 4 April 2008 07:30 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen years ago) link

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

apparently it's full of errors.

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

seven months pass...

Baseball America's top ten of '09:

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

one month passes...

dude's got a blog too!

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

four weeks pass...

Today’s job: Full transcription of 84 minutes of Rickey Henderson. It is hilarious, and when you know you’re fully engaged on the next project, Book no. 10...Man of Steal: Rickey Henderson and the Legend of Oakland.

— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) December 12, 2019

Andy K, Thursday, 12 December 2019 23:23 (two years ago) link

Where did the patented Rickey snap-catch come from? “Trying to be like Willie Mays. Started in Oakland. We had a pitcher who threw a no-hitter. First time was last out. I snatched it outta the air, gave everybody a heart attack.”
True: 1983, Mike Warren.

— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) December 14, 2019

Andy K, Saturday, 14 December 2019 03:08 (two years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Reading Wayne Coffey's book on the '69 Mets. Seems out of whack: in 1965, 21-year-old starter Tug McGraw pitched 7.2 innings and beat Sandy Koufax.

clemenza, Saturday, 11 January 2020 19:47 (two years ago) link

When Mets owner Joan Whitney Payson attended the opening NLCS game in Atlanta, it was the first time she'd been there since 1939, when she attended the opening of Gone with the Wind--she was an investor in the film.

clemenza, Sunday, 12 January 2020 15:26 (two years ago) link

one month passes...
one month passes...

The baseball book of the decade, and probably more besides, is @CharlesLeerhsen's biography of Cobb. It is not a rehabilitation but a resurrection. It proves conclusively Cobb's first biographer told lied about him for money after Cobb's death.

— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) March 26, 2020

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 27 March 2020 01:11 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Will get this as soon as the price comes down a bit.

clemenza, Saturday, 9 May 2020 00:01 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

anybody read The Unforgettable Season?

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 22 June 2020 19:46 (two years ago) link

1908 NL? Haven't.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 23 June 2020 12:36 (two years ago) link

i just got “The Glory Of Their Times” by Lawrence Ritter

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:35 (two years ago) link

"The Unforgettable Season" is great. Haven't read it in years and years, but its reputation is deserved (same with "The Glory of Their Times").

NoTimeBeforeTime, Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:57 (two years ago) link

"The Glory Of Their Times" is sensational. I didn't realise it's an oral history. All these terrific stories of jumping trains and settling contracts at the soda fountain and outsized revenge plots and big, big outfields. I don't think I ever realised how big the outfields really were. I always thought the low home run totals for those days was all on account of the dead ball. But they were MASSIVE. Most home runs were inside the park. Look at the Huntington Avenue grounds!

They also really make you understand how low-class ballplayers were considered. I haven't come across anything about race, yet, but it's interesting that even in such a milieu, where white players were shunned from the nice hotels, even though they had money, mixing was strictly not allowed. I guess everybody's always got to stay divided.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 20:32 (two years ago) link

1900-1910 was peak dirty baseball though. McGraw's Giants, spiking opposing fielders, a lot more on-field contact compared to today's game. Players had bad reputations on and off the field. At the time there were a lot of players were born to Irish immigrants, and those stereotypes didn't help either.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 07:39 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Tracer, there is or was a Glory edition that included the interviews' audio.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Monday, 10 August 2020 16:27 (two years ago) link

becomes a centenarian next month

So far as I know he is listening to baseball. But his eyes trouble him.

— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) August 9, 2020

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Monday, 10 August 2020 16:27 (two years ago) link

morbs, what's..... glory? a podcast?

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 10 August 2020 16:39 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Tracer, see above... Ritter's The Glory of Their Times

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 18 September 2020 14:22 (two years ago) link

Happy 100th (tomorrow) Mr Angell

from 1962:

“This was a new recognition that perfection is admirable but a trifle inhuman, and that a stumbling kind of semi-success can be much more warming. Most of all, perhaps, these exultant yells for the Mets were also yells for ourselves, and came from a wry, half-understood recognition that there is more Met than Yankee in every one of us. I knew for whom that foghorn blew; it blew for me.”

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 18 September 2020 14:33 (two years ago) link

Wow...The Summer Game was one the first, I don't know, dozen baseball books I read. And even though I was 13 or 14 and too young to appreciate it, I actually did.

clemenza, Friday, 18 September 2020 14:41 (two years ago) link

He is among the most readable of great writers.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 18 September 2020 15:12 (two years ago) link

What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for. It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look – I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring – caring deeply and passionately, really caring – which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete – the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the hap hazardous flight of a distant ball – seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

- "Agincourt and After," 1975

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 18 September 2020 15:24 (two years ago) link

wow, that's great, and makes me want to read more from him. always interesting to hear someone try to explain why they care about sports, despite the all the obvious negatives (other people, mostly)

Karl Malone, Friday, 18 September 2020 15:33 (two years ago) link

One thing I still remember is this bit from Earl Weaver, after the '69 Series (still have my copy...and turns out I quoted this in the Earl Weaver thread upon his death, so I can just cut-and-paste):

Later, in his quiet office, Earl Weaver was asked by a reporter if he hadn't thought that the Orioles would hold on to their late lead in the last game and thus bring the Series back to Baltimore and maybe win it there. Weaver took a sip of beer and smiled and said, "No, that's what you can never do in baseball. You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all."

clemenza, Friday, 18 September 2020 18:53 (two years ago) link

Also fantastic is his long recollection, in the Ken Burns film, of Jackie Robinson getting inside some pitcher's head as he walked, stole second, and then rattled the guy so much he walked the next two batters and forced in a run.

clemenza, Friday, 18 September 2020 19:07 (two years ago) link

(Next three batters, that should be.)

clemenza, Friday, 18 September 2020 19:08 (two years ago) link

from Angell's Bob Gibson profile (1980):

“Well, I never really liked being on the All-Star team,” he said. “I liked the honor of it, being voted one of the best, but I couldn’t get used to the idea of playing with people from other teams in the league—guys who I’d have to go out and try to beat just a couple of days later. I didn’t even like having Joe catch me—he was with the Braves then—because I figured he’d learn how to hit me. In that same game, he came out and told me not to throw the high fastball to Harmon Killebrew, because the word was that he ate up that pitch.” Gibson’s voice was almost incredulous as he said this. “Well, hell. I struck him out with three high fastballs. But in any of the All-Star games where I got to pitch early”—Gibson was voted onto the National League All-Star squad eight times—“I’d always dress right away and get out of there in a hurry, before the other players got done and came into the clubhouse. I didn’t want to hang around and make friends. I don’t think there’s any place in the game for a pitcher smiling and joking with the hitters. I was all business on the mound—it is a business, isn’t it?—and I think some of the writers used to call me cold or arrogant because of that. I didn’t want to be friends with anybody on the other side, except perhaps with Willie Stargell—how could you not talk to that guy? None of this was meant to scare guys, or anything. It was just the way I felt. When Orlando Cepeda was with us, I used to watch him and Marichal laughing and fooling around before a game. They’d been on the Giants together, you know. But then Cepeda would go out and *kill* Marichal at the plate—one of the best pitchers I ever saw—and when it was over they’d go to dinner together and laugh some more. It just made me shake my head. I didn’t understand it.”

(You get a few free articles; this should be one.)

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Friday, 18 September 2020 23:02 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

Excerpt from “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets—The Best Worst Team in Sports”.

Michael F Gill, Friday, 2 April 2021 17:14 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

no real excuse for why it's taken me this long but i finally read 'ball four' this weekend

and basically, christ what an asshole

bouton is smart and funny but nowhere near as smart and funny as he thinks he is, which is why he couldn't get more than two votes for player representative. he drips condescension for everyone except Marshall and Hovley, whom he's more or less scared of.

a number of times he's not wrong -- Maglie should've let him work, and someone should've caught him -- but he's such a prick that it's no wonder no one bothered

also his quote about his ex-wife's book was fucked up, like it was her responsibility to solve his 'grass' problem while also raising their three children.

yeah he was anti-war and anti-racist and he deserves kudos for stepping up at that time . . . but he didn't step very far

mookieproof, Monday, 28 June 2021 05:11 (one year ago) link

anyway it's no surprise that even the guys he thought he'd portrayed lovingly -- like manager joe schultz -- hated him for it

mookieproof, Monday, 28 June 2021 05:21 (one year ago) link

The other players know he's writing a book and don't trust him because of it, that's clear from the few times that he breaks the fourth wall. Obviously he didn't care about being seen as a loner who would sit in a corner by himself writing rather than socializing with the other players, that didn't endear him to anyone either. The players respect him and his accomplishments -- with reason, for as a star player on a WS winning team, he'd accomplished more than any of those Pilots misfits ever had and ever did -- but they don't particularly like him as a person at all.

So yeah, Bouton was a dick but OTOH he understood that in an era when players didn't earn multimillion dollar salaries and were trapped by the reserve clause, he had to look out for himself and build a career outside of baseball before it was too late. Can't fault him for that.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 28 June 2021 09:41 (one year ago) link

I dunno mookie I think he’s pretty smart and pretty funny. the opening few grafs are a masterpiece of self deprecation and a window into the baseline psyche of what motivates (a lot of) professional athletes

Tracer Hand, Monday, 28 June 2021 09:58 (one year ago) link

he drips condescension for everyone

Could not disagree more--it's a book by someone who loves every last stupid thing about the game.

clemenza, Monday, 28 June 2021 10:04 (one year ago) link

I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through and I don’t get a “dripping with condensation” vibe.
He acknowledges his views are out of step with most of his teammates - which makes him a “commie” outsider to some of them. And I don’t think he’s all that condescending to them despite that. He only seems to really come down on coaches and managers, and he’s not wrong about the points he makes. He explains his thoughts on that well enough.
I’m finding his views (some, not all) surprisingly progressive for the time/profession.

The only thing that jumps out at me is him talking about players being unfaithful and the looking up girls skirts in the stands. Obviously players arent going to like having that stuff shared, he should have known using real names for stuff like that was going to have a lot of blow back.

Could not disagree more--it's a book by someone who loves every last stupid thing about the game.

About the game, yes. About the people who play it, not as much.

Like Thermo said, he was sharing details of players private lives (active players, even) and had to expect some blow back. I don't think he cared whether he made enemies, everyone was equal cannon fodder for his book. That does make him an asshole, even if he was kind of a visionary at the same time.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 07:55 (one year ago) link

Sorry to be stubborn, but still disagree: for Bouton, the game is the people who play it. When he writes of Gene Brabender--a guy he has basically zero in common with (except the game they play)-- that he could crush your spleen, it's said with humour and affection. You can make an argument that he betrayed confidences, but that pretty much holds for anyone who writes a book or makes a film where certain characters are recognizable as real people. Bouton used real names; to do otherwise would have been silly. He either writes the book honestly, or he doesn't write it--or, more probably, he just writes another pointless sports book. I don't think he cared whether he made enemies, everyone was equal cannon fodder for his book. Right--and I'm sure he knew the cost.

(But, as he also notes, at a certain point many of the players were very aware of what he was doing--some would come up and say "Here's a story for your book." His pen would fall out on the mound. So I doubt, when the book appeared, it was a total shock to many, maybe most of them.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 12:28 (one year ago) link

Dirk Hayhurst didn’t use names for a lot of the players he was writing about.
But his books were a little different I suppose.

i didn't say it was a bad book! but yeah i'd have absolutely felt betrayed if i'd been his teammate (apart from marshall/hovley/bell, and even then i'd have not appreciated the attention).

he draws the line at specifically naming the married guys who fucked around on the road -- which i can absolutely understand and appreciate, but i don't think he ever understood where the line was (not least when he goes into all the 'beaver shooting')

he has a certain self-awareness that's good but doesn't go terribly far. i mean it's nice that he came to appreciate don mincher despite his alabaman origins, but somehow it never occurred to him to avoid pranking people when he was among the team's least-liked players

anyway yes the book is totally intriguing and important! but it also doesn't make me think a great deal of him

mookieproof, Wednesday, 30 June 2021 03:27 (one year ago) link

certainly the stuff about contracts/labor/marvin miller is crucial

mookieproof, Wednesday, 30 June 2021 03:31 (one year ago) link

Still waiting to buy the biography that came out last year; 10 years ago, you could wait a couple of months and used copies would start to turn up at half the price, but not anymore.

clemenza, Wednesday, 30 June 2021 18:43 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

There are more good books written about baseball than any other American team sport. Here are our 100 indispensable picks that no baseball fan should be without. via @alexbelth

— Esquire (@esquire) November 30, 2021

mookieproof, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 20:36 (one year ago) link

I count 21 that I've read, but that could be off in either direction--I have so many of them, sometimes I wasn't sure. Two of my three favourite are there, Ball Four and the first Historical Abstract; Robert Creamer's Casey Stengel biography missing. Going to look for a Boxing Day deal on the Posnanski book.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 20:49 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

Kill The Àmpaya!

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 16 April 2022 13:37 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...
one month passes...

Halfway through Keith Law's The Inside Game. Pretty good, but I just finished the chapter where he writes about the status-quo trap, the tendency to think doing nothing is safer than change, which he illustrates with Grady Little leaving Pedro in too long in 2003, and with the Giants keeping three prospects who never panned out rather than trading for Roy Halladay (coming off a mediocre season, headed for a string of great ones) around the same time. Fine--except earlier in the book, he writes about availability bias, where a team might mistakenly jump at a known quantity primarily because he's known, and you could just as easily make the argument that the Giants avoided that. It's sometimes a here's-the-answer, what's-the-question kind of book.

clemenza, Wednesday, 6 July 2022 23:42 (five months ago) link

The book sounds interesting, but when did Law become an armchair psychologist? I get that he wants to take a break from analytics and write about the human element of the game, but has he actually researched that? Or is he just trying to pad his memoirs by giving it a more "academic" spin?

When the Halladay trade happened, it was widely thought that many teams were overvaluing their prospects and were reluctant to make trades for established stars. I don't think it had much to do with availability bias, but perhaps my timeline is a bit off? He was working for the Jays at the time, right? He'd be the right guy to comment on what front offices were generally thinking.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Thursday, 7 July 2022 07:08 (five months ago) link

The book's in the car right now, too lazy to walk out and get it, but I think he says he had a background in all this stuff at university.

The availability bias (and it might have a different name...many biases covered in this book) would have been in play in the negative: San Francisco didn't, in that particular instance, fall prey to it. My basic point is that there are all sorts of biases--the very biases he writes about--that come into play simultaneously, and when you chastise one team for falling prey to one of them, the opposite may be true for the other team; they may have wisely avoided it. In the Halladay non-trade, there was the Giants avoiding the availability bias, falling prey to the status quo bias, and--true of the Jays also--being led astray by recency bias, not making the trade because Halladay was coming off a poor season. The Jays, who made Halladay available, got away with it: the Giants passed, and the Jays got four or five more great seasons out of Halladay.

All these biases are at cross-purposes, and I think Law sometimes cherry-picks them to suit his purposes. Which is one of the biases he writes about.

clemenza, Thursday, 7 July 2022 13:45 (five months ago) link

So that Halladay non-trade was in 2004, not around the time he was actually traded years later.

Cherry picking biases sounds about right based on your description. That would annoy me as a reader but I should read the book before assuming too much.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 8 July 2022 04:38 (five months ago) link

also keith law is a prick

mookieproof, Friday, 8 July 2022 04:40 (five months ago) link

(xpost) I should have made that clear, 2004. I'm on the chapter about good decisions right now, and that deals with Halladay in 2009.

One instance where Law looks like a genius is an early chapter where he writes about vaccine hysteria (connecting it to one of his biases), and chastises people who won't get a measles vaccine, and how misinformation is feeding them, and what would happen if there were a serious epidemic, etc...and he's writing in the middle of 2019.

clemenza, Friday, 8 July 2022 14:09 (five months ago) link

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