Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


Contributors

Jim Furtado
Founder & Publisher
Repoz
Editor - Baseball Primer

Syndicate

Books Newsbeat

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Day in the Bleachers by Arnold Hano | The National Pastime Museum

Click the link and read the rest.

A turning point in my baseball reading, when I began to appreciate the impressive history of the game’s literature, came with my teenage discovery of Charles Einstein’s three (later four) volumes of The Fireside Book of Baseball, an anthology of game accounts, columns, poems, illustrations, and cartoons covering several decades. The series had been around a while before I ran across it, but I first read the words of Ring Lardner, Heywood Broun, and Damon Runyon in the pages of these books, checked out of the Groton (Connecticut) Public Library in the mid-1970s. Some of it was tough sledding for a teenage boy. Runyon, who later became one of my favorites, wrote in a colorful stylized language that was not yet familiar to me. The same was true of most of the prewar material.

A piece by Arnold Hano highlighted the first Fireside volume (1956); it was a chapter from his book A Day in the Bleachers. The book is a first-person account of sitting in the Polo Grounds’ bleachers for Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. The excerpt is about a single play—a sensational catch by the Giants’ Willie Mays. I knew of this play, but I so loved Hano’s chapter that on my next trip to the library I checked out the whole book.

The central character of A Day in the Bleachers is not Mays, nor is it Dusty Rhodes, who won the game with a home run. The main subject is Hano, a 32-year-old freelance writer living in Manhattan who wakes up on the morning on September 29, 1954, and announces to his wife that he is going to the ball game to root on his beloved Giants. “You’ll never get in,” she tells him. Ignoring this, he takes the D Train from Midtown to the Polo Grounds, waits in a long line, buys a ticket, crams into the bleachers, occupies himself for a few hours waiting for the game to begin by interacting with fellow denizens (a few of whom are rooting for the Indians), agonizes through 10 innings of tight baseball, and heads (happily) for the exit. This takes up 154 pages, perhaps 40,000 words.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 30, 2015 at 03:00 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: books

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A lifelong mission to tell Connie Mack’s story - philly-archives

I wish I had noticed this article earlier because I would have added the books to my Christmas list.

Macht’s original proposal envisioned a 300-page book. Then he traveled to Mack’s East Brookfield, Mass., birthplace and knew immediately he would need more to tell the story of a man whose life and career spanned much of baseball and American history.

“The town had all the records - birth, death, voting, school,” Macht said from his Escondido, Calif., home. “I wrote it chronologically. I was up to 1910 and already close to 1,000 manuscript pages.”

So he convinced the University of Nebraska Press that a second volume was necessary. And then a third.

“Other publishers told me multivolume biographies were deadly. They wouldn’t touch them,” he said. “They agreed to do two. Then I had another 1,000 pages, and I was only up to 1931.”

The rest of Mack’s life is chronicled in The Grand Old Man of Baseball: Connie Mack in His Final Years.

And the rest of Macht’s now strangely empty life?

“I’m not sure,” he said, “but I’m not starting anything new.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 24, 2015 at 08:45 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: books, connie mack

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Win a Free Copy of THT 2016! | FanGraphs Baseball

OK, I just bought my copy. Here’s a chance to get your copy for free.

Have you heard? The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2016 is now available for sale. You can check out the table of contents and read some excerpts from the book. When you finish that you can purchase it from our independent publishing platform, Createspace, in print form, or from Amazon in print form, and also digitally on Amazon for the Kindle.

But wait, there’s more! Because we’re giving folk, and since it’s the beginning of the holiday season and all, we want to give you a chance to win yourself a free copy of the book. So today and tomorrow (and yesterday), we’ll be running a trivia contest based on one of the articles in the book. The first person to post the correct answer in the comments will win a free physical copy of the book (sorry, no free Kindle version). It’s just that simple!

Today’s question comes to you from Peter Bonney’s article, “Who Watches the Watchers? Introducing Umpire Consistency Score,” where he, you know, introduces an umpire consistency score. You’ll have to read the article for the nuts and bolts of the metric, but it sets out to do just what it says. Bonney utilizes both raw UCS as well as UCS150, which is UCS (re-normalized) per 150 pitches (i.e. UCS per typical game). Toward the end of the piece, he busts out his whole leaderboard of umpires who worked from 2008-2015 and called at least 10,000 pitches. So the question before you today, dear reader, is this:

Can you name two of the top 10 umpires, as ranked by UCS150?

Note: If you name more than two umpires, your entry will be automatically discarded.

Good luck!

Jim Furtado Posted: November 25, 2015 at 11:07 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: books

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Minoring in Business: Towson University economist Thomas Rhoads writes the book on Minor League club proximity | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball

Looking for some light reading?

In both content and price ($99.99 for the hardcover version), The Call Up to the Majors is not geared to the casual reader. But Minor League fans and executives might find Rhoads’ arguments and methodology interesting (or at the very least, worthy of debate). I had the opportunity to interview Rhoads during the 2015 season while attending a game at the Class A Advanced Potomac Nationals home of Pfitzner Stadium. What follows are excerpts from our conversation.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 08, 2015 at 07:46 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: books, economics

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Bookshelf Conversation: Mark Armour

If you’ve been around here a while you know I am a big fan of In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball by Mark Armour and Dan Levitt

Jim Furtado Posted: October 19, 2015 at 03:47 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: books, general managers, interviews, podcasts

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

There She Is, Myth America « Our Game

John Thorn talks about a couple of classic baseball movies.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 22, 2015 at 12:58 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: books, movies

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tell-All From Former Yankees Clubhouse Worker Is Finally Out; Alleges Jeter & Posada Had Sexy Time

Former Yankees assistant equipment manager Paul Priore was fired in 1997. He says the team let him go because he is HIV-positive; the Yankees, and New York state courts, disagree. Now the seamy tell-all Priore threatened to write has found its way to print (albeit through self-publishing), and co-author Gary Toushek is spamming the world with this bizarre video explaning why Priore’s outlandish claims are totally legit.

About those claims! Here are some things Paul Priore says he witnessed, as outlined amongst the 500-some pages of Abused By The New York Yankees and according to the book’s website and this review:

Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada engaged in sexual relations in the clubhouse sauna at the end of their first season with the team. Jeter and Posada then allowed Priore to perform oral sex on them in order to keep him quiet.
George Steinbrenner spied on players using secret security cameras in the clubhouse, and was actively involved in the Iran-Contra Affair.
Outfielder Gerald Williams had sex with an underage concession stand worker in a storage closet.
Cecil Fielder played drunk on vodka, and Darryl Strawberry drank whisky during games.
Bob Wickman, Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera tried to sexually assault him with a baseball bat.
Batboys created a market of forged autographs on Yankees memorabilia.

Did Jorge at least get a gift basket?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 08, 2015 at 04:24 PM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: books, derek jeter, jorge posada, tabloids, yankees

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Secrets of Baseball Management | FOX Sports

Earl Weaver took over the managing job after spending years in the Orioles farm system. If you read his books, he was most proud of his ability to evaluate players. This helps explain his level of comfort making some of the moves that he did.

Rob: Reading about the moves Earl Weaver made, immediately upon taking over as manager of the Orioles—making Don Buford an every-day player and using Elrod Hendricks more often—led me to wonder, how many times have new managers made big decisions that paid off so handsomely? Seems like the sort of thing that would separate a great manager from everyone else.

Mark: I agree. Normally when a guy takes over a club in mid-season he seems reluctant to change things too dramatically right away—why call attention to the fact that you thought the other guy (in this case Hank Bauer, who had won a World Series two years earlier) was wrong? Weaver, who had never worn a big league uniform until becoming first base coach that season, really took command. Buford had been a little-used infielder, but in Weaver’s very first game he moved Buford to the outfield, installed him as the leadoff hitter, and started him every day the rest of the year.  That takes confidence, and Weaver managed his entire career with an extreme belief that he knew which players should play.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 02, 2015 at 08:38 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: books, general managers

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.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 04:59 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 01:42 AM | 67 comment(s)
  Beats: books, braves, history

Tuesday, November 29, 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 29, 2011 at 11:27 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: books, yankees

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 11:45 AM | 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 10:13 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 02:34 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

Page {e2c518d61874f2d4a14bbfb9087a7c2dcurrent_page} of {e2c518d61874f2d4a14bbfb9087a7c2dtotal_pages} pages {e2c518d61874f2d4a14bbfb9087a7c2dpagination_links} | Site Archive

 

 

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
1k5v3L
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP - 2016 February 1: Donald Trump spends $450,000 on red baseball caps in just three months
(2169 - 6:42am, Feb 06)
Last: David Nieporent (now, with children)

NewsblogSchoenfield: Top 5 Hall of Fame classes
(42 - 5:05am, Feb 06)
Last: bjhanke

NewsblogJose Bautista says he’d like to be a Toronto Blue Jay for life - The Globe and Mail
(19 - 4:42am, Feb 06)
Last: vortex of dissipation

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - February 2016
(168 - 2:06am, Feb 06)
Last: Booey

NewsblogSuddenly Frugal Yankees Playing Long Game With Eye On Bryce Harper
(58 - 1:50am, Feb 06)
Last: PASTE Transcends Almost All Generations (Zeth)

NewsblogOT: Soccer Thread - February 2016
(35 - 12:05am, Feb 06)
Last: AuntBea

NewsblogCiti Field and Yankee Stadium Could Become Off Limits to Smokeless Tobacco
(5 - 12:03am, Feb 06)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogMLB's qualifying-offer system is stacked against low-revenue clubs | FOX Sports
(10 - 12:02am, Feb 06)
Last: Cargo Cultist

NewsblogScott Boras, other baseball minds propose anti-tanking measures - Buster Olney Blog- ($Insider$)
(67 - 11:15pm, Feb 05)
Last: Sleepy Took His Nesting Wife to Costco

NewsblogQualifying-offer system key to collective bargaining negotiations, maintaining more than two decades of labor peace as MLB, players union begin to talk | FOX Sports
(125 - 10:42pm, Feb 05)
Last: akrasian

NewsblogNBC/Calcaterra: Cubs sign Matt Murton
(29 - 10:05pm, Feb 05)
Last: Kiko Sakata

NewsblogThe Wainwrightization of Rick Porcello | FanGraphs
(11 - 9:53pm, Feb 05)
Last: Darren

NewsblogBobby Cox endorses Eddie Perez as MLB manager | MLB.com
(10 - 9:18pm, Feb 05)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogOrioles have expressed interest in free-agent right-hander Tim Lincecum - Baltimore Sun
(26 - 7:06pm, Feb 05)
Last: Roger McDowell spit on me!

NewsblogOt: 2015-2016 NHL Thread
(66 - 5:17pm, Feb 05)
Last: Ithaca2323

Page rendered in 1.6384 seconds
167 querie(s) executed