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Sunday, August 03, 2014

MLB.com writers share favorite baseball books « Baseball Books

Although I have read and enjoyed most of the books listed, my favorite was Prophet of the Sandlots: Journeys with a Major League Scout.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 03, 2014 at 08:51 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: books

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Calcaterra: The first Derek Jeter Publishing title is available for pre-order

Last fall we learned that Derek Jeter was starting his own publishing business in a partnership with Simon & Schuster. The first book is coming out in September. You can pre-order it now. It’s called “The Contract” and it’s for middle school readers. This is the description:

As a young boy, Derek Jeter dreams of begin [sic] the shortstop for the New York Yankees. He even imagines himself in the World Series. So when Derek is chosen for the Little League Tigers, he hopes to play shortstop. But on the day of the assignments, Derek Starts [sic] at second base. Still, he tries his best while he wishes and dreams of that shortstop spot. And to help him stay focused on school, his parents make him a contract: keep up the grades or no baseball. Derek makes sure he always plays his best game—on and off the baseball field!

Good! Kids need to learn that it’s okay to try things and fail, and that it’s natural to have limitations. You can’t necessarily expect to achieve your wildest, most unrealistic dr…

Wait, he ends up playing where?

The District Attorney Posted: July 10, 2014 at 09:00 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: books, business, derek jeter, yankees

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Grantland: Right Down the Middle

If you’re in the mood for a no-nonsense overview of the state of baseball book publishing in 2014, check this out.

When ideas fail, baseball books drift back to the same place where they’ve been anchored for two decades: the 1950s. Baseball books are instant replay for baby boomers. “There has to be a book every year about Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams, or some combination thereof,” said Robert Weintraub, author of The Victory Season, which was published last year. “I’m guilty of that myself.”

The ’50s is farmland already tilled by literary HOFers like David Halberstam and Roger Kahn, by Jane Leavy and Richard Ben Cramer. Each go-round leaves fewer available plots. Leavy did Mantle in 2010. James S. Hirsch did Mays the same year. So it was inevitable that in 2013, Allen Barra would do them both, in the dual biography Mickey and Willie. If an author finds his mandate getting too small, he compensates by going big. Last year, Ben Bradlee Jr.’s biography of Ted Williams came in at a whopping 784 pages.

There’s a funny thing about the boomers trudging to the shelves. The overfamiliarity of the old ballplayers isn’t a turnoff; it’s the sell. “What you want if you’re a reader is to pull back a curtain on a time you remember well,” explained literary agent David Black.

AndrewJ Posted: May 29, 2014 at 09:52 PM | 56 comment(s)
  Beats: authors, baseball books, books, nostalgia

Monday, April 21, 2014

ESPN: W. P. Kinsella: Where It Began: “Shoeless Joe”

Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Field of Dreams:

I replied that to me, writing a novel was akin to a baker baking a loaf of bread: So long as the buyers pay for the bread, they were free to do with it as they chose. If they made dainty sandwiches, fine. If they fed it to their gerbils, fine. I realized that most books optioned for movies became gerbil food. I’ve never understood authors who are proprietary with their work, fighting any changes of plot or character. All I care about is being properly paid.

“Field of Dreams” was a stunning exception. I wept when I read the finished screenplay. “This is my own work doing this to me,” I said. “How can this happen?”
. . .
I loved the movie. Novels and movies are entirely different art forms. I don’t see how Phil Robinson could have done a better job of successfully transferring one to the other.

How have things changed in the past 25 years since the release of the movie? Fathers and sons still bond playing catch, still attend baseball games together, still share warm and luminous memories of games and players gone but not forgotten.

I have received letters from every part of the world, mainly from younger men, about how the ending of the movie affected them. Moved by those final scenes, men traveled, often thousands of miles, to take their fathers to baseball games, or just to have a catch in the backyard.

Much more in TFA.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Zander Hollander, Sports Trivia Shepherd, Dies at 91

Zander Hollander, a journeyman journalist who rebounded from the merger of his newspaper in the mid-1960s by becoming what Sports Illustrated called “the unofficial king of sports paperbacks” — particularly a once wildly popular series of encyclopedic yearbooks — died on Friday in a nursing home in Manhattan. He was 91.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Phyllis, said.

Before televised sports were pervasive and the Internet a nonstop gusher of sports trivia, Mr. Hollander found a niche in the market by annually providing statistics, team rosters, records, schedules and predictions for the coming season in the form of brick-size tomes he titled “Complete Handbooks.” He offered them for hockey, baseball, soccer and college and professional football and basketball…

The yearbooks were just one part of Mr. Hollander’s body of work. He also chronicled sports bloopers and wrote a history of Madison Square Garden, among other subjects. All told, he edited, wrote or packaged 300 books.

His wife said that, with her help and occasionally that of assistants, Mr. Hollander churned out books like an assembly line, starting with the submission of an outline to a publishing house. If the idea was accepted, he would recruit well-known writers in the appropriate field. He assembled photographs, wrote captions and did all the editing…

While writing for [The World-Telegram newspaper], Mr. Hollander became friendly with a young lawyer, Howard Cosell, who rode the same bus. Mr. Cosell represented the Little League of New York and had been asked by the local radio station WABC to host a show featuring Little League players. Mr. Hollander agreed to help out by writing scripts and recruiting sports celebrities. Neither man was paid, but it was the beginning of Mr. Cosell’s sports broadcasting career.

The District Attorney Posted: April 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: books, obituaries, zander hollander

Friday, April 04, 2014

Deadspin: Miami Marlins Owner’s Insane Book About Peanuts Will Melt Your Brain

Payroll Advice: Five Cents

It’s clear that, by 1967, Jeffrey Loria was manifestly the squarest motherf*cker on planet Earth. He was barely a quarter century old and had already fast-forwarded spiritually to twice that age, becoming the kind of embittered husk who laments the broken legacy bequeathed to The Children. The lessons to be drawn from What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? read like the bilious, reactionary resentments of a pomaded junior Nixon. Woodstock hasn’t happened yet, and, at the time of writing, the Summer of Love probably hadn’t either, but it’s clear that Loria would have hated both as soon as he’d read a tedious finger-wagging Newsweek piece published about them months later. It’s a wonder the dedication wasn’t “To the Straw Man of a Hippie Dropout I’m Beating with Word Truncheons in My Imagination.”

Instead, it’s dedicated to Vincent Price…

What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? explains the Peanuts universe while also somehow asserting that it proffers the statement, “In business and politics honesty and sincerity often have a way of working against you.” It says that one should forget one’s strong feelings to get ahead, to play the game the company way irrespective of what it’s all about. These are the spiritual zero-sum exercises that an alleged adult drew from Peanuts. Insincerity, profit, the muzzling of conscience in favor of advancement—relentlessly f*cking the other guy only until the moment he walks away from the deal. This is Charlie Brown throwing his arms out at his sides, yelling, “Aaaauuuuughhhh!” and, like Atlas, shrugging.

This is what Jeffrey Loria learned from a story about children who love each other, who strive to be loved, who feel misunderstood, and who yearn for understanding. Reading What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? is the literary equivalent of finding a cache of clown paintings by John Wayne Gacy made before he started stowing victims’ bodies in the crawlspace.

The District Attorney Posted: April 04, 2014 at 01:53 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: books, cartoons, comic strips, jeffrey loria, marlins

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-4-2012

Milwaukee Journal, January 4, 1912:

HISTORICAL POINTS OF 1911.
Indiana didn’t secede from the Union.
Kaiser Wilhelm was not seen on the vaudeville circuit.
Vienna was refused admittance to the Tri-State league.
Shibe Park was not converted into a moving picture show.
Connie Mack did not unconditionally release Eddie Collins.
...
Count Leo Tolstoy neglected to write a musical comedy.

...and it’s a damn shame he didn’t.  I’d pay big bucks to see the singing, dancing grand finale of War and Peace: The Musical when [WAR AND PEACE SPOILER ALERT!] Princess Helene overdoses on abortion medication and dies.

Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:59 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: books, dugout, history

Thursday, December 08, 2011

John Rocker Still Trying to Clear Name

Pearlman: Give ‘Em Enough Rope (sent this over to

Steve

...errr, Jeff).

Rocker says he’s written the book partly in response to a 1999 Sports Illustrated article that he says ruined his good name forever.

Interviewed during Eyewitness News at 6 Wednesday, he referred to the old proverb that says “Don’t pick up fight with a guy who buys ink by the truckload.”

He told 13WMAZ’s Frank Malloy, “I decided to buy my own truck.”

...Rocker says he wrote the book with J. Marshall Craig to add “meat” and context to those statements.

Some of the “meat” according to Rocker:

“The media have declared themselves judge, jury and executioner in the world of free speech and political correctness, and if you offer up an opinion they don’t agree with, rest assured they are going to put the crosshairs right on you.”

Arguing that Americans’ rights are being taken away due to the war on terror: “You know what? We lost (technically). The terrorists have won. My nation is no longer free.”

...Talking baseball, Rocker has praise for Braves manager Bobby Cox and former Yankees manager Joe Torre, and many of his teammates.

But not for baseball commissioner Bud Selig, whom he calls “a true cretin,” “idiot,” “head dummy,” and a “moron of extreme proportions.”

Repoz Posted: December 08, 2011 at 02:42 AM | 67 comment(s)
  Beats: books, braves, history

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Believer - Interview with Kevin Goldsmith

No, this is not an Onion article; this exists.

Conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s work is simultaneously among the most mundane and the most maddeningly provocative writing being done today.

A few years ago, I published a super-boring book that was a radio transcription of a Yankees–Red Sox game. I included everything that was on the radio, from the pre-game show to the ads to the broadcast-booth patter.

. . . .

When the book was published, I sent a copy to the Yankees organization. Naturally, I never heard from them.

Clearly, Goldsmith missed his true calling as a court reporter, instead of a “conceptual poet.”

The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: November 30, 2011 at 12:27 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: books, yankees

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kelner: Take me out to the metaphorically rich ball game

It seems Moneyball has opened world-wide and some of the reviews I’ve been reading are eloquent ####### pips.

It’s certainly true that, in the field of literature and film, this Atlanticised form of rounders has inspired many fine works, of which Moneyball is just the latest. While admitting I may be a little parochial here, I think it’s a shame that some of the best films about sport – Field of Dreams and Eight Men Out to give two examples – have been about baseball, a game that most in the UK find arcane at best, and often unintelligible.

It’s like all the best comedy films being in a language we find very difficult to understand. I’ve been to a few baseball games, and never really understood what was going on. It felt like a hot dog-eating convention with a game going on at the same time.

The slowly unfolding plot of a baseball encounter is, say adherents, its essential appeal. To me, it felt like ritualised longeur. A friend of mine once explained: usually, you don’t want to leave your seat in case something happens, whereas at a baseball game, you leave your seat hoping something happens.

And then there’s the statistics, the endless litany of numbers and percentages that form the language of the sport, but which, to the untutored mind, are completely meaningless. Nevertheless, I urge you not to be put off by all this esoterica to go and see Moneyball, and not just for a bravura performance from Brad Pitt.

Repoz Posted: November 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, media, reviews, sabermetrics

Friday, November 18, 2011

And Then Al Michaels Said To Howard Cosell: “You’re Drunk. You’re Ruining The ####### Telecast.”

Speakeasy of Everything…an excerpt from Mark Ribowsky’s new book on Howard Cosell.

During the 1984 American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals, Cosell and play-by-play man Al Michaels took to sniping at each other, though what viewers didn’t know was that Cosell had been drinking during the game. After Michaels disagreed with a point he made, believing Cosell’s explanation of a baseball strategy “made no sense,” Cosell waited until after the game before telling the even then respected announcer that he would never be a good broadcaster until he “learned to take a stand,” implying the latter was too soft on tough issues and on players and owners. Michaels, who personally liked Cosell, snapped back, “You’re drunk?.?.?. You’re ruining the ####### telecast,” adding, “You ever come in like that again, I’m not gonna work with you.” Needing a good stiff belt himself, he then went into the press room and asked for a large vodka. The apologetic bartender poured the glass only a quarter full—all Cosell had left him.

...In the end, Spence made the call: Cosell would not be used for the World Series, played between Gussie Busch’s Cardinals and the cross-state Kansas City Royals. His place as analyst would be taken by Tim McCarver, the former Cardinals and Phillies catcher who was moved up from working as a roving grandstand reporter. McCarver was a personable, keenly perceptive, and articulate man who broke Cosell’s stereotypical “dumb jock” mold, and with his entrance as a full-time color analyst, few mourned or noticed Cosell’s exit.

Repoz Posted: November 18, 2011 at 11:13 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: announcers, books, history, television

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slate: Michael Lewis and Billy Beane talk Moneyball

Don’t have time to thumb through all of it (flood of Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands EP’s take precedent!), but this…

However, the people who make this objection don’t seem to grasp the basic principles of imitation and catch-up. Once all teams are playing Moneyball, then playing Moneyball no longer gives you an edge. Indeed, the richer clubs have the means to play it smarter. The New York Yankees recently hired 21 statisticians, Beane marvels.

...Lewis breaks in: “To be totally fair to Billy, he likes attention less than anybody who’s got as much attention as he has. You’re shy, that’s what it is! You just hide it well.”

Actually, admits Beane, the film did give him one good celebrity moment. Unusually for anyone in professional sport, Beane counts among his many obsessions punk and indie music. (The Clash poster on Pitt’s office wall in the movie is strictly accurate.) When the film came out in north America, Beane found himself at a table at the Toronto film festival organised by Moneyball’s producer, Sony Pictures. He says, “I was sitting next to the Sonys. Brad and Angelina Jolie were over there. And right there was this guy, and the whole night I kept thinking, ‘Man, that guy looks just like Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.’ So the guy gets up to leave and I turn round and say, ‘That guy’s trying too hard because he’s trying to look just like Chris Cornell.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, that is Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.’ I went, ‘What? I’ve been asking him to pass the scallops all night!’ And off I go and introduce myself to him. That was my closest lookie-me moment.”

Repoz Posted: November 13, 2011 at 03:34 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, business, history, media, sabermetrics

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bissinger: The Strange Genius of Tony La Russa

Buzz La Bissinger returns! (checks Sequel-Buzz for further info)

Whether you loved Tony La Russa, as many millions of fans did, or hated him, as far too many millions of fans did, the verdict on him is simple. In the aftermath of Monday’s surprising announcement, three days after his St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, that he was retiring after a 33-year managerial career, we might as well get the boilerplate of his legacy out of the way so there is no confusion:

Over the past half-century of Major League Baseball, the 67-year-old has been the game’s best manager, best innovator, best thinker, and best strategist. There is no argument, at least to those who appreciate baseball. He also makes the current rage, Billy Beane of Moneyball book and film fame and the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, look like the general manager of a T-ball team in Toledo in terms of accomplishment, as opposed to hype and exaggeration.

...La Russa loved the lore of baseball. He was a romantic at heart, but the best thing about him is that he changed with the game. He still looked for ways to turn baseball on its head with positive results. He still managed every game as if it were the first game he ever managed so he would not get lazy, exhausting to contemplate, given he managed 5,097 games. He also had great respect for the work of the famed sabermetrician Bill James. Just as he also realized that no matter how many numbers you pour into a computer, there will never be a way to quantify the intangibles of heart and chemistry and desire that define the success or failure of all of us.

I for one hope the naysayers do come around. Because in baseball, in any sport, a person like Tony La Russa only comes around once in a lifetime.

Repoz Posted: November 01, 2011 at 09:34 AM | 294 comment(s)
  Beats: books, cardinals, history, sabermetrics

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

David Maraniss: ‘Moneyball’ the movie is a big swing and a miss

David Maraniss: The Prince of Cannotsee.

But I absolutely hate the movie “Moneyball” and everything it stands for. I think it is a fraud, one that people I respect bought into, for what they thought were noble reasons having to do with the little guys vs. the big bullies. I also dislike the philosophy of moneyball as it is applied to sports. My problem with the movie is a matter of truth. My problem with the philosophy is a question of art and beauty.

...The thrill of baseball has nothing to do with statistics, as much a part of the game as they are. It has to do with the athletic skill of the players: the rifle throw from right field to third base; the dazzling speed of a runner stealing a base; the grace of a second baseman making the turn on a double play.

Perhaps “Moneyball” struck a chord with audiences because it presented what seemed like a fresh, unromantic, realist’s view while also presenting a smart plan of attack for the little guys. But in doing so, it not only perpetrated a fraud, it also glorified statistics over beauty and joy, and that is a trade-off that diminishes life itself.

Repoz Posted: October 25, 2011 at 02:51 AM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, media, reviews

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bronx Banter: DeRosa: About the Errors…

While Mark DeRosa has 74 career errors…Joe DeRosa looks for some in Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding.

A ballplayer could react to a terrible slump in a number of ways. But all of them should be vastly different to a person reacting to the loss of a supernatural gift. A slump usually begins with the wrong mix of flawed mechanics and dumb luck and spirals into Adam Dunn-level tragedy when the player gets trapped inside his own head. Henry’s situation is closer to Prometheus and his gift of fire than it is to Adam Dunn and his buck-fifty batting average.

Because all of the characters ignore this essential difference, the baseball in the book loses integrity – a distraction that I could not tolerate.

I’m sure Harbach has loftier intentions than examining Henry’s fielding ability, but he wrote a book around a baseball team – and from what I can tell, nobody’s been shy promoting it as a baseball book. At the very least, the context of the baseball season should serve as the binder of the story, but since the author doesn’t get the baseball right, the binder dissolves. What’s left is still good enough to carry your interest for a while, but since the baseball is palpably unreal, it taints the other stuff too.

Repoz Posted: October 18, 2011 at 07:35 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: books, reviews, sabermetrics

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NYT: Billy Beane

Beane Spill

image

WATCHING I like music documentaries. I just recently saw “We Jam Econo — The Story of the Minutemen,” who were a California punk band from the ’80s. The Minutemen were one of those bands that didn’t really catch on in the mainstream and yet was incredibly influential on other artists that did make it.

The other one that I saw was “Hype!,” which is about the Seattle grunge scene. It has great archive footage of bands like Nirvana and Sound Garden and also Alice in Chains playing in the Seattle bar scene. It’s interesting how clusters of bands develop in certain areas.

LISTENING I listen to a lot of podcasts. My favorite is World Football Daily. It’s a two-hour soccer podcast. It’s got a lot of correspondents from all over the world who cover soccer. My go-to band is Oasis, but I have a friend in the music business who keeps me up to date with newer stuff, some of which I like, some I don’t. He recently introduced me to Glasvegas and Cold Cave.

Repoz Posted: October 16, 2011 at 08:10 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, media, music

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bronx Banter Interview: Glenn Stout

Belth catches up with Glenn Stout, author of Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year.

BB: One of the incredible things about Fenway Park is that it has changed over 100 years, and although it may seem antiquated, the current Red Sox ownership has done a lot to add modern touches without tearing the place down. Can you talk about some of the most significant alterations the place has seen and why it continues to last.

GS: Fenway Park has lasted because until quite recently they never really tried to preserve it. There was little waxy nostalgia about the place until the 1980s. If they needed to change something, they just changed it. In that way the ballpark was allowed to evolve, and, except for the original grandstand, was almost entirely rebuilt in 1933/34 anyway. Significantly, I think, is that despite all the things they’ve done recently, they’ve left the interior footprint of the field alone. That allows fans to imagine they’re in the same park where Ruth and Williams and Yaz played, and where Fisk and Bucky hit it over the wall, and to connect that history. That’s mostly a fantasy, but an effective one. So despite the fact that I find Fenway far too busy these days – there are signs EVERYWHERE, and a constant barrage of noise – in many ways the park more resembles the retro parks that were built in imitation of Fenway more than the original Fenway Park – fans can still have a unique and memorable personal experience. A significant number of fans at any given game are tourists, and tourists will even find cramped seats and posts charming.

 

Repoz Posted: October 13, 2011 at 09:45 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: books, history, media, red sox

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, Post-Moneyball, Visits Athletics Nation Part III

We Want the San Jose Airwaves! ~~ Part I and Part II.

TB:  How do you figure out - is there a metric that you guys have outside of the really simple one of wins - but is there a metric to figure out whether your manager is doing a good job? Do you sit down at some point and review every decision they make in a game and then give him a ranking, or is it strictly the wins and losses? How do you guys go about judging that?

BB:  We don’t have a specific metric for evaluating a manager. I’ve always been somewhat protective of our managers here in that you ultimately have to have good players. If you don’t have the talent, then it is very difficult to do the most important thing, which is winning games. That is the metric by which we are all judged and certainly managers are as well. But ultimately you have to have the players to get it done.

...BB:  Then again, I don’t play video games - actually, I do play Call of Duty. My wife gets mad at me.

TB:  Are you kidding me? Do you play on the 360 or the PS3?

BB:  You know, I don’t get into it as much as I used to but my dad and me, we kind of get into it. It’s fascinating the way they’re put together. The graphics are unbelievable.

TB:  You know who my brother is, right?

BB:  No.

TB:  He’s the lead designer on Gears of War.

 

 

Repoz Posted: October 09, 2011 at 07:18 PM | 89 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, business, history, media, projections, sabermetrics

John Feinstein: Question for Red Sox fans

Last Chance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Eight…

As soon as the last day of the regular season concluded, I was convinced there was a book to be done that would focus strictly on that final day, arguably the most dramatic in regular season baseball history. I thought—think—that if you go back to the eight teams involved in those four deciding games, focusing on the four teams fighting for the playoffs but also including the other four teams and get players, managers, coaches, broadcasters to walk you through that day in detail, you have one hell of a story.

My agent, Esther Newberg, who is one of those Red Sox fans who is STILL mad at Bill Buckner, says the story might be good but no Red Sox fan will buy the book even if you get really good stuff from Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz et al.

I understand that feeling. In 2008 when my book on Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina came out, I got a really nice note during spring training from Gary Cohen, the Mets longtime play-by-play announcer who is a good friend. Gary wrote that he loved the book, in fact thought it was the best one I’d written.

I wrote back, thanked him and asked him if it might be possible to come on for an inning or two one night to talk about the book, the process of writing it, why I chose Glavine and Mussina—typical promo stuff.

Gary’s answer was to the point: “John, I loved the book and you know I’d love to help in any way. But after the way last season ended (Glavine getting shelled for seven runs in 1/3 of an inning with the season on the line on the last day) there’s not a Mets fan alive who wants to hear the name Tom Glavine again anytime soon.”

He was, of course, right.

So, Red Sox fans, is Esther right on this one too?

Repoz Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:16 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: books, media, products, red sox

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hirsch: ‘Moneyball’ is Entertaining, and Not Accurate

Hirsch: Without a Clue.

All told, there is zero evidence to support one of Moneyball’s pillars: Beane’s unique ability to identify and draft undervalued prospective stars. Indeed, Beane’s weak track record drafting players clearly contributed to the team’s disastrous performance in 2011. Many low-budget teams fared better – not just this year but over the past several years.

In Lewis’s telling, the A’s use of advanced statistics also produced superior game management. The team adhered to a key tenet of the advanced statistics crowd: outs are too precious to give up with sacrifice bunts or to risk with aggressive base-running. There are various problems with this overly tidy analysis, and both pre- and post-Moneyball many teams thrived by ignoring the admonition against risky base-running. Beane himself came to see the light – his A’s have become an aggressive base-running team.

Asked about the change in tactics, Beane cites the intangible effects that mathematical formulae cannot capture. His teams take chances on the bases because of the cascading benefits of what Beane calls the “mentality of aggressiveness.” Beane deserves credit for changing course, but that doesn’t change the fact that another key insight attributed to him by Moneyball did not stand the test of time.

Repoz Posted: October 08, 2011 at 10:57 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, media, reviews, sabermetrics

W.P. Kinsella back in the game with Butterfly Winter

The Further Adventures of Slugger Kinsella…

So Butterfly Winter should be a very big deal in Canadian publishing. The author of Shoeless Joe is back. He’s writing about baseball. He’s including hallmark elements of magic realism.

...Nevertheless, Butterfly Winter should appeal to his core audience. It’s the story of twins Julio and Esteban, baseball players from the fictional Caribbean country of Courteguay who aim for the big leagues while being controlled by a mysterious man in a hot-air balloon known as the Wizard. The tale unfolds as an interview between the Wizard and a character referred to as the Gringo Journalist, both of whom appear to contain elements of the author.

As with so many of his novels, baseball becomes a rich backdrop for a tale about family, romance and magic. For Kinsella, the game has always been a deep well to draw from, even if the explanation for his obsession sounds somewhat enigmatic.

“It’s the open-endedness of the game,” he says. “The other sports are all twice enclosed, first by time limits and then by playing boundaries. On a true baseball field, the foul lines diverge forever, eventually taking in a good part of the universe. There’s no time limit on a baseball game. So it makes for larger-than-life characters. Things like basketball and hockey are limited to that little playing surface. It’s hard to get really magical happenings.”

Repoz Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:33 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: books, history

Monday, October 03, 2011

Brad Pitt does not play gay Billy Bean in “Moneyball,” he plays straight Billy Beane

By the one and only Billy Bean..

e

.

At the time, as I was becoming more and more recognized as a member of the LGBT community, I was sure that Billy was getting the short end of the stick. It was OK for me to be confused with a general manager of a Major League Baseball team, but I wasn’t so sure how he felt about people thinking that he was “the gay baseball player.” He’s a straight Republican, who’s married with kids, and I’m a gay Democrat with two Jack Russell Terriers. To make matters worse for him, my book, “Going the Other Way: Lesson’s From a Life in and out of Major League Baseball” came out in the summer of 2003. It spread through the sports world pretty quickly. It’s the one topic that catches every athlete’s attention, and not always in a good way. However, I have to say that the reaction to my book by players was mostly supportive. I was told that Billy was constantly receiving my cards for him to sign. The LGBT community in San Francisco and Oakland area was hopeful, but ultimately disappointed that I was not him.

...The movie is amazing and you should go see it. One of Hollywood’s greatest writers, Aaron Sorkin wrote it, and I’m sure that Brad Pitt will finally win an Oscar for Best Actor. Not because he’s long overdue for his profession’s crowning achievement, but because it will cement my fate of having to answer this question for the rest of my life and say, no it’s not me….it’s the “other” Billy Bean(e).

Truth is, I don’t really mind the questions at all. I’m happy for Billy Beane, and his movie, but I wouldn’t trade places with him for all the money in Major League Baseball.  My friends, my family, my community. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

Repoz Posted: October 03, 2011 at 10:23 AM | 151 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, books, history, media

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Lupica: Francona saw lack of intangibles in Red Sox collapse, not lack of ‘Moneyball’ statistics

The Million-Dollar Throw-Up Challenge.

Terry Francona didn’t talk about OPS numbers on Friday after he was fired in Boston. He didn’t talk about Pythagorean winning percentages or range factors or runs created or win shares. He didn’t talk about Bill James or Billy Beane or sabermetrics, the cult that now runs baseball. Francona essentially spoke of how the men on the field playing the game for the Red Sox this past September weren’t enough of a team when their season exploded all over the American League East.

...All the numbers-crunching, numbers-loving general managers and boy wonders of the sport, all of the disciples of the Bills James and Beane must have pushed back from their laptops and had a pretty good laugh when Torre said it in his book, and when Francona echoed it Friday in Boston, when he was the World Series manager on his way out the door.

Of course if you even question the way the numbers-crunchers and numbers-lovers run baseball now you worry that you sound like the scouts turned into such dim bulbs in the movie “Moneyball.” As if you are locked hopelessly in the past.

And the numbers guys win again. And guess what? It will only get worse now that “Moneyball” is a hit and Brad Pitt is going to get an Oscar nomination. If you are a manager, you put the computer on the desk the way Francona did and go along or you lose in the end.

 

 

Repoz Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:45 AM | 85 comment(s)
  Beats: books, fantasy baseball, red sox, sabermetrics

Monday, September 26, 2011

‘Lion King’ Holds Box-Office Lead, Topping ‘Moneyball’

Right on the tail of “Lion King” were baseball drama “Moneyball” from Sony Corp.‘s Sony Pictures and the family film “Dolphin Tale” from Time Warner Inc.‘s Warner Bros. Pictures. According to early studio estimates, the former grossed $20.6 million from 2,993 theaters while the latter grossed $20.3 million from 3,507 theaters.

An adaptation of the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis, “Moneyball” stars Brad Pitt as Oakland As general manager Billy Beane and appealed primarily to older audiences. According to exit polling provided by the studio, 64% of the audience was over the age of 35 and almost evenly split by gender, with females making up the 49% of the audience. Getting women to see the film was a priority for the studio’s marketing department, which advertised on shows popular with females, incluing “Dancing With the Stars” and “Glee.

Banta Posted: September 26, 2011 at 02:32 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: books, business, media, sabermetrics

Sunday, September 25, 2011

‘Duk: Art Howe isn’t happy about his portrayal in ‘Moneyball’

We didn’t get it today, but we battled and we will be back at the Oscars next year!

Former Oakland Athletics manager Art Howe (above, right)  hasn’t seen ‘Moneyball’ yet, but he’s talked with people who have and he says he isn’t thrilled with the way he’s portrayed in the film.

Here’s Howe on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio:

  “Considering the book wasn’t real favorable to me to start with I figured it would be something like this but to be honest with you it is very disappointing to know that you spent seven years in an organization and gave your heart and soul to it and helped them go to the postseason your last three years there and win over 100 games your last two seasons and this is the way evidently your boss (Beane) feels about you.

  Art Howe isn’t happy about his portrayal in ‘Moneyball’“They never called me to get my slant on things as far as the movie was concerned.  So, I mean, it’s coming from someone.  I don’t know who it is but maybe it is Hollywood to make it sell, I guess.  I don’t know.  It’s disappointing.  I spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and I think I did that but this movie certainly doesn’t help it.  And it is definitely unfair and untrue.  If you ask any player that ever played for me they would say that they never saw this side of me, ever.”

...But Howe doesn’t see it quite the same way.

  “The thing that bothers me about the movie is that, you know, I think everybody in baseball knows who I am but so many people who are going to be seeing this movie really don’t know me.  This is their impression of me probably the rest of my life so that’s disappointing.”

Repoz Posted: September 25, 2011 at 04:31 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, awards, books, media, reviews

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