Archive for the 'Book Review' Category

The Last Nine Innings a one-game chronicle of baseball evolution

For four and a half years, I have tried to forget about the events of Sunday, November 4, 2001. But as a Yankee fan, that will always be impossible. I remember every detail of that game, and I still can feel the shock of watching the impossible become possible as Mariano Rivera proved that every now and then he is human.

It hasn’t helped my psychological healing process too much that baseball writers keep insisting on writing books about that fateful game. First, Buster Olney penned The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty in 2004. Olney’s book was a masterful and personal look into the Yankee clubhouse during their remarkable run from 1996 until Luis Gonzalez’s bloop single in 2001. Olney, a long-time Yankee beat writer, used his clubhouse access to further humanize what was already a very human team and show at what cost success came to the players and coaches from the last baseball dynasty.

Now, Charles Euchner, a city planner and former college professor, has revisited Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in his latest book entitled The Last Nine Innings. Whereas Olney’s book focused on the Yankees, Euchner’s book uses Game 7 of the World Series as a launching point for an examination into the various forces behind the evolution of the modern game of baseball.

First up comes a look at the latest legal strength and conditioning techniques sweeping through Major League Baseball. Euchner uses the experiences of Steve Finley to examine how current knowledge about muscle use and muscle strengthening can lengthen a player’s career. Finley, Euchner explains, works with chiropractor Edythe Heus to strengthen the balancing and tiny core muscles along his spine. Finley doesn’t lift mega-weights, but he has honed his body in such a way that has enabled him to play, for better or for worse, past his 40th birthday.

Finley’s technique is the anti-steroid approach, according to Euchner. Heus’ regimen focuses on “creating a better sense of time and space” instead of focusing on “the execution of an isolated task,” as Euchner claims steroids do. Finley’s training regiment helps him in the field as he dashes and lunges after elusive fly balls, and it helps him focus his swing at the plate.

Next up is a look at the fundamentals of the game: hitting, pitching, and fielding. Euchner breaks down the mental aspects of these tasks. Using extensive interviews with many of the participants of the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series, Euchner delves into the minds of some of the game’s top players. He discusses Curt Schilling’s penchant for data and scouting reports, Randy Johnson’s efforts at controlling his extremely tall and thin frame early in his career, and Roger Clemens’ picture perfect motion and nearly-insane conditioning work.

Euchner gives the other two areas of the game the same treatment. He looks at positioning fielders, swinging styles and hitting approaches. The book provides a deep examination into the psychology of baseball, an area of the game often ignored by those who follow it. Chuck Knoblauch, one of the key cogs in the Yankee dynasty, was certainly a victim of baseball psychology.

Baseball, all 162 regular season games, 30 spring training games, and the October spring, can be grueling on the players. By examining the states of mind of those playing in the ultimate game of the season, Euchner shows how the sport’s premiere players prepare for an eight-month marathon.

Moving away from the personal, Euchner looks at the sabermetric revolution encompassing the sport. What is refreshing about Euchner’s book is that the stats can co-exist with the psychology. While the players say they do not follow the new stats, it gives those watching the game from General Managers to scouts to journalists and bloggers an insight into the game. He touches upon the never-ending Derek Jeter fielding debate and looks at the improbable events of the bottom of the 9th through the lens of Win Probability. (Tony Womack’s double with one out to tie the score shifted the game in the Diamondbacks favor from 35.4 to 84.3. It was by far the single most important play of the game.)

Finally, Euchner ends with some ruminations on globalization. Alfonso Soriano, a Dominican who played in Japan, was almost the hero of the World Series while a Panamanian took the loss and an American-Cuban delivered the game winning hit. But Euchner does more than give lip service to the ever-expanding international reach of baseball. Many Latin American players sign up for a few thousand dollars to play for the Major League academies. While some Latino players have gone on to be big stars, Americans never hear about the hundreds of players who do not make it and must return to a life of abject poverty. Other Latino players are picked up by Major League teams simply to fill out roster spots in the Minor Leagues. They will never fulfill their Major League dreams or share in the dollars that the sport’s upper levels have to offer.

In the end, Euchner, unfortunately for me, cannot rewrite history, and the last 30 pages of the book were the toughest to read. I kept hoping that maybe this time the roof at the BOB would be open, and Shane Spencer’s deep fly ball would be a game-changing three-run home run. Or that the Yankees would play the infield back and Derek Jeter would catch Gonzalez’s dinky hit. Or that Scott Brosius would complete the double play giving the Yankees a chance to move that infield back with two outs instead of playing up with one. But alas, it was not to be.

Personal feelings aside, Euchner’s book provides insight into the game at a whole new level. While he touches the surface on a variety of topics that could stand on their own in a 250-page book, as Andrew Zimbalist, baseball economist notes on the cover, you will never a game with the same thoughts again. You’ll be eyeing the pitchers, looking for the physics described in the book or watching an outfield twist and turn like a dancer catching up to a seemingly uncatchable deep fly ball.

The Last Nine Innings, by Charles Euchner, is published by Sourcebooks. It is available online at Amazon.com or at your nearest local bookstore.

Book Review: Juicing the Game scorches the baseball universe

Steroids are baseball’s problem that just won’t go away. But like any major ongoing news story, it’s hard to jump into the steroid fray in the middle and understand the current state of affairs.

Enter Howard Bryant and his masterful book Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. Originally published last July, Bryant’s thorough and scathing overview of the steroid scandal hit the paperback shelves recently complete with a new epilogue that updates the tale.

Bryant’s book is covered in quotations praising his writing and his research. As the writers at The Hardball Times noted, “This is the definitive history of Major League Baseball over the past fifteen years.” In producing this authoritative tome, Bryant left no stone unturned.

He provides a more-or-less chronological account of baseball since the late 1980s. He begins with Bud Selig awaiting his Congressional appointment last March, and the story unfolds as a flashback. We hear of collusion deals and cocaine suspensions. We hear of Jose Canseco’s steroid boasts in 1988 and Tony La Russa’s ongoing hypocrisy and cover-ups.

In detailing the rise of steroid use in Major League Baseball, Bryant points to a few sources, all of which combined to create a culture of secrecy and near tolerance for performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Taking into account the hit baseball took from the strike in 1994-1995, the renaissance of baseball coinciding with the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa Home Run Derby in 1998, the drive for more offensively oriented baseball, and the culture of protection and secrecy surrounding the clubhouse, Bryant weaves a narrative of, as the book suggests, the soul of baseball.

While there is no need to rehash the entire novel, I want to take a look at a few people who come out the worst in Bryant’s tale. First among them are Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, the two Generals in the never-ending battle of baseball labor rules. Selig comes off at times as grandstanding, ignorant, too aware, ineffectual and weak on the drug issue. While Selig originally knew about steroids in the early 1990s and wanted to put a drug testing policy on the table in 1994, he knew it would get him nowhere.

Throughout the tale we are left to wonder what Selig knew and when. Bryant’s point seems to be that, until Selig met the father of a teen who committed suicide in the midst of steroid-induced depression, his postures on drug use in baseball were just that. He wasn’t really going to search too hard for the truth about steroids in baseball, and when he learned the truth, he was quick to do nothing. His drug testing plans came about only in the face of severe public pressure, and while he claims he was interested in the issue for a decade, his inactions speak louder than his actions.

On the other side of the table is Donald Fehr, the lawyer in charge of the Players’ Association. Fehr, living in the shadows of the legendary Marvin Miller, has handled this issue with the skill and aplomb of, well, Bud Selig. He is the great obstructionist, not listening to the union members clamoring for a drug testing deal while professing an innocence that doesn’t exist. As Selig as commissioner seems to be looking out for the owners’ best interest, Fehr guards the players and their vaunted privacy ever so closely. No one is watching out for the game’s best interest.

On the field and in the dugout, it’s hard to find a more damning character than Tony La Russa. As I noted earlier this week, La Russa was one of the Steroid Era’s great enablers. It’s clear from La Russa’s more recent comments that he knew about Jose Canseco’s steroid use as early as 1988. Yet, he did nothing about it. He could have alerted General Manager Sandy Alderson about potential illegal drug use. But as a manager he wouldn’t break the code and throw his best slugger to the dogs.

Considering what he knew about Canseco, he must know volumes about Mark McGwire. But he remains steadfast in his defense of McGwire to the point of indirectly incriminating himself. As the book details the Canseco revelations, La Russa original says he knew nothing about drug use. Then, when Canseco points a finger at McGwire, the darling of Tony La Russa’s managerial career, La Russa changes his story. He knew Canseco was juicing, he says, because the slugger told him so himself. Once again, we meet a figure who knew about the drug problem and did nothing to stop it.

Finally, we see the same old people with the same old problems. There is Jose Canseco becoming a baseball pariah and an unlikely source of fact – or half-facts at least – for the steroid era. There is Mark McGwire not wanting to talk about the past. There is the embattled Barry Bonds denying anything under the sun. There is Sammy Sosa fading away, and Rafael Palmeiro flaming out.

These tales, fleshed out and with background, are nothing new. Bryant presents them within the context of the period, and he connects the dot. For someone looking to understand what went wrong with baseball in the late 1990s, this book is the place to start and end. While I eagerly await my copy of Game of Shadows, for now, Bryant’s tale provides all you need to know about steroids in baseball.

Despite this glowing praise, I do however find some fault in the new epilogue. Bryant, writing the epilogue last winter, tries too hard to wrap up a story that he knows is not over. Throughout the pages that appeared in hardcover, Bryant’s many sources said over and over again that the steroid scandal was far from over. Yet, the epilogue tries too hard to find baseball’s hidden redemption. Who saved baseball from the Steroid Era?

As the recent revelations about Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and others reveal, baseball’s redemption is not yet at hand. The sport is still coming to grips with the social, cultural, political, and legal ramifications of the tumultuous Steroid Era. When the dust finally settles – and that won’t happen any time soon – Bryant may yet need to pen another epilogue for his damning indictment of professional baseball.

Howard Bryant’s tale of steroids in baseball Juicing the Game is available at a bookstore near you or from your favorite online bookseller.

Book Review: Questioning a “New Blueprint for Winning”

The folks at Baseball Prospectus like to set lofty goals for themselves as they constantly challenge the long-time paradigms in baseball thought. There latest book is no exception, and with a lengthy title – Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning – this opus on the 2004 Red Sox serves as an interesting inside look into one of the game’s most storied teams.

Mind Game, edited by one of the foremost Yankee bloggers on the Internet, Steven Goldman of Pinstriped Blog fame, is a joint effort with bits and pieces written by all of the BP members from Jim Baker to Derek Zumsteg. The book catalogs the 2004 Red Sox season chronologically, highlighting different sabermetric aspects of this team as they created an alleged “new blueprint for winning.” For the most part, this joint authorship approach works well as each writer offers a unique spin on the Red Sox season. Will Carroll, known for his “Under the Knife” columns, discusses the famous (or infamous, depending upon at which end of the Merit Parkway you happen to reside) Curt Schilling Cadaver while Baker brings out his favorite lists, this one of happy moments in Red Sox history.

While sharing the writing load worked to a certain extent, the books, switching from author to author, loses some of the flow that a single author would have brought to the table. Maybe this is the fault of the overall editing, but hearing another BP writer define VORP or EqA for the fifth time in six chapters gets a little tedious. Each chapter could stand on its own this way, but for those who choose to read the book chronologically, the repetitiveness gets a little, well, repetitive.

Overall, though, I can’t fault the writing. For those readers familiar with Baseball Prospectus, the book offers the same high level of insight and research found on the writing. Rather, my main complaint with the book lies in the overall premise: Did the 2004 Boston Red Sox really establish a new blueprint for winning or did they simply use a pre-existing blueprint, along with a whole lot of very good luck in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS, to win?

Mind Game starts with the premise that the Boston Red Sox were not the cursed. The curse was a marketing ploy made up by Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe. Rather, the Red Sox simply suffered through years and years of poor upper management. The team suffered through racist owner Tom Yawkey and his desires to please his favorite players rather than allow better men onto the team.

Leaving Yawkey and the past behind, the book arrives at the Theo Epstein Era. Epstein is clearly the Golden Boy of the book, and by the end, I was left wondering if maybe Epstein wasn’t too prominent of a character in the story. While he had a big role in putting the team together, a lot of his moves – such as the Nomar trade – were gambles that could have easily backfired. In my mind, it wasn’t so much Epstein’s sabermetric mind that allowed the Red Sox to succeed. Rather, it was his willingness to pull the trigger on unpopular deals that could potential benefit the Red Sox. No one knew Orlando Cabrera would .379/.4242/.448 against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.

The book then charts the 2004 season through a series of seemingly outside-the-box and sabermetrically-minded innovations. The writers explore how closer-by-committee didn’t work and how Keith Foulke was, through certain metrics, more valuable than Mariano Rivera during a five-year stretch. It explores the machinations of the A-Rod trade and the Red Sox’s willingness to pursue high-ceiling, low-salary guys like David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Kevin Millar in an effort to develop an OBP machine that could test whether or not an oppressive offense could make up for a less-than-stellar pitching rotation. The book dispels the notion that the Jason Varitek-Alex Rodriguez brawl made much of a difference in the season and explores how the Red Sox were able to wear down Mariano Rivera enough to make him merely good instead of great.

Yet, for all of the analysis, all of which I found to be dead on, I thought the book was missing a few glaring needed explanations. First, it’s undoubtedly the case that the Red Sox won in 2004 because they had Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez pitching 40 percent of their games. Yet, the book virtually ignores the Curt Schilling trade. I still have never heard a satisfactory explanation of that trade. The Red Sox gave up four guys who will never amount to anything near a Curt Schilling. They seemingly pulled the wool over the eyes of the Diamondbacks, and no one has blinked at this very lopsided trade. How do baseball economics end up in a such a state that one team can basically give away their best pitching all in the name of shedding payroll?

Meanwhile, as the book went on, I kept returning to this idea of a new blueprint for winning. Have no teams ever thought to put together an on-base machine using some homegrown talent, some discarded parts, and some chances? I thought back in baseball history all the way to the 1998 Yankees, a team that assembled a mean on-base machine and actually sustained their winning ways for nearly four years in a row.

The 1998 Yankees were first in the AL in runs scored and on-base percentage, and they accomplished this with a mixed lineup. They had homegrown talent in Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada. Paul O’Neill, their cornerstone, number three guy in the lineup was acquired via a trade that at the time it was made in 1992 was something of a gamble. Their third baseman, Scott Brosius, was actually a player to be named later in a trade for Kenny Rogers. He would go on to have his finest season that year hitting .300/.371/.472 and would garner World Series MVP honors that year. While critiques could say this Yankee team achieved greatness through spending, I say the Red Sox in 2004 with the second-highest payroll in baseball did the same as well. Does spending a lot qualify as a new blueprint for winning?

Finally, there is this issue of luck involved in the 2004 Red Sox World Championship run that is hard to capture in statistics. Had Dave Roberts been a half a step slower, the Red Sox would have lost in four games to the Yankees. Had Tony Clark’s ground-rule double hit the wall, Ruben Sierra probably would have scored the potential game-winning run in extra innings of game five. Had the Yankees challenged the knuckleball-challenged Jason Varitek or dared use Kenny Lofton as the Red Sox used Roberts, the outcome of the series could have swung back in favor of the Bronx Bombers. Luck led the Red Sox over the Yankees; pure talent got them to the World Series.

In the end, my complaints of Mind Game may come from my biased perspective on the 2004 Red Sox. As a die hard Yankee fan, I died hard when they lost games four and five of that ALCS. But as an objective baseball fan, I think history is littered with teams who pursued a plan similar to the one the Red Sox followed in 2004. Mind Game, then, offers great insight into the methods of statistical analysis and the minds of baseball front officer administrators. It’s an interesting tale honoring an incredible team. While I think it’s safe to say the Red Sox got smart and it’s undeniable that they won the World Series, I just don’t think they created a new, groundbreaking blueprint for winning.

But that’s just my opinion. Go read the book and find out for yourself. It’s well worth it and a fun read during the dark days of the offseason.

Bat Boy shows what happens to a dream fulfilled

For decades, baseball writing has long delved into two sides to the sport. Some of the best works have described the game on the field and its social interaction with America. Recently, authors have delved into the front-office strategies of General Managers as they struggle with baseball’s twisted economics. Now, a highly enjoyable new book, Bat Boy: My True Adventures Coming of Age with the New York Yankees, by 30-year-old Matthew McGough, shows something not often seen in literature: the behind-the-scenes madness that permeates a Major League Baseball clubhouse every night for 162 games.

McGough’s book, witty and serious, entertaining and nostalgic (if it’s even possible to be nostalgic for the early 1990s), is certainly one to add to an ever-growing list of classic tales about baseball and its effects on the lives of impressionable teenagers growing up in America.

McGough’s story is the stuff every eight-year-old boy’s dreams are made of. He became a Yankee fan during the summer of Dave Righetti’s no-hitter and George Brett’s infamous pine-tar game. As a teenager sitting in the back row of the right-field bleachers, he eyed the bat boy and decided to write a letter to the Yankees asking if he could join the team in that same position. Improbably, the team hired McGough, and in April of 1992, McGough joined a team that had finished the previous season at 71-91 in fifth place.

As McGough’s memoir follows the Yanks as they stumble to a 76-86 record in 1992, he delves into the ins and outs of life in a Major League clubhouse. On his first day at work, a starstruck McGough is sent by Don Mattingly to find a bat stretch because, ostensibly, all of Donnie Baseball’s bats shrunk during the flight up from Spring Training in Florida. McGough survives this prank, and over time, he grows increasingly more comfortable as he realizes that these baseball players are normal people too.

The first half of the book focuses largely on the inner workings of the clubhouse. McGough introduces clubhouse manager Nick Priore as a no-frills, down-to-business type of guy whose constant stream of profanities and insults keep the teenage bat boys on their heels at all times. As McGough details his day-to-day dealings, a new baseball world is shown to the world. This isn’t a tale of the riches of baseball and the fame of the players as they don pinstripes or win World Series titles. Rather, McGough lets the reader in on the life of those who are responsible for shining everyone’s spikes, for cleaning up the mess after a player takes out his frustration on the nearest TV set, toilet, or food spread, for running errands for the players, and for running out those new balls to the umpires.

For every story about the doors the Yankees could unlock, such as road trips driving Matt Nokes’ SUV up from Spring Training and gaining access to Fort Lauderdale bars without the benefit of an ID, Bat Boy doesn’t hesitate to highlight cruder aspects of the job as well, including the nasty temperament of a drunk Mickey Mantle on Old Timers’ Day. One of the major events to mark McGough’s time as the Yankee bat boy was his and a friend’s involvement in the Network, a pyramid scheme that swept the New York metropolitan area during the winter of 1992-1993. Introduced to the network by Priore despite a tacit disapproval from Rob Cucuzza, Priore’s assistant, McGough and his friend each end up $750 short when the scheme falls apart. Later on, McGough lands into trouble when a CD-for-memorabilia deal goes awry.

For all its charm – and one of the book’s strenghts is its charm – the continued apeearance of Nick Priore was one spot where I wanted more dirt. A few years after McGough’s time with the Yankees was up, Nick Priore was fired from the Yankees for clubhouse theft, and he and his family have been in and out of the headlines over the last few years. Most recently, Priore’s name came up when mob connections to the New York Mets were divulged in the Daily News a few months ago. But before that, his son Paul had been involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit against members of the Yankees. The suit, largely forgotten in New York these days, alleged rampant homosexuality and homophobia in the Yankee clubhouse. It was dismissed without a hearing. McGough’s narrative is noticeably silent on any of these topics. While a long tangent on these issues wouldn’t have fit the narrative tone of the memoir, the prominence of Priore in the tale hinted at a darker side of the clubhouse left unexplored by McGough’s book.

In the end, it’s easy to love McGough’s book if only for the reason that every fan once dreamed of being a Major League bat boy. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a memoir, and in that role, it passes with flying colors. It is a quick, fun and funny read that, in an age of statistical-oriented books and anti-Moneyball diatribes, returns baseball writing to the timeless genre of the coming-of-age tale, and it shows that baseball players, bat boys and clubhouse managers are, just like you and me, real people with real failings and real power whether they know how to use it or not.

3 Nights in August tries to look beyond the numbers

There’s something about Moneyball.

Two years after its release, Michael Lewis’ book is still gripping the game with an iron talon, polarizing supporters and detractors unnecessarily when the lessons of the book are not as clear cut as many on both sides of the debate think.

The latest work that tries to paint an anti-computer nerd, pro-baseball guy picture of the game is Buzz Bissinger’s 3 Nights in August. The book focuses on Tony La Russa as he rides a roller coaster of emotions while managing a three-game series between the Cubs and the Cardinals during the high heat of the 2003 pennant race.

Throughout the tale, Bissinger tries to skirt around the issue of numbers in the game. He opens the book by stating that his story “was not conceived as a response to Moneyball.” But one page earlier, he had been bemoaning the rise of “front offices…populated by thirtysomethings whose most salient qualifications are MBA degrees…These thirtysomethings view players as pieces of an assembly line; the goal is to quantify the inefficiencies that are slowing down production and then to improve on it with cost-effective player parts.” And economic efficiency is supposed to be a bad thing?

Later on, in a passage numerous critics have focused on, Bissinger probes La Russa’s thoughts on on-base percentage, the golden stat of the Moneyballers. La Russa, one of the game’s most successful managers, sees OBP “as akin to the latest fashion fad – oversaturated, everybody doing it, everybody wearing it, until you find out the hard way that stretch Banlon isn’t quite as cool as originally perceived.” La Russa combats the rise in OBP by urging his players to “play the scoreboard.” La Russa wants to see aggression from a leadoff hitter and his RBI men. He doesn’t want to see players taking pitches down the plate in an effort to draw a walk to boost that OBP.

But then again, is Moneyball really teaching baseball stupidity or baseball smarts? Lewis’ story is about, as the title reflects, the art of winning an unfair game. Beane and those who work for him have a limited payroll and look for the hidden advantages behind the stats. They don’t pretend that scouting reports, emotions, and even gut intuitions aren’t a part of the game. They don’t preach taking a fat pitch down the middle just to work out a walk later on. Rather, Moneyball is about baseball innovation and finding ways to win with limited financial resources.

There’s no reason that the Cardinals, a wealthy team with a long history of success, can’t embrace a approach to the game that searches for hidden ways to win. In fact, as Bissinger’s book progresses, it’s easy to see numbers and the lessons of Moneyball everywhere.

Dave Duncan, the Cardinals’ pitching coach who is La Russa’s loyal pitching coach, following him from team to team throughout the decades, studies the numerical match-ups religiously. He dissects video from what Bissinger terms the Cardinals’ Secret Weapon, a video editor so secret that nearly every Major League Baseball team employs one now. He emphasizes the proper counts to throw what type of pitch based upon the previous successes of the opposing batter against not just the pitcher on the mound but most of the pitchers in the leagues.

Throughout the season, Duncan carries around charts “in which he has tracked every pitch every batter has been thrown by his pitchers and what that batter did with it…The charts also track any trends that have emerged in particular situations – where a Cardinals pitcher has given up first-pitch hits and where he has gotten first-pitch outs, where he has given up hits with two strikes, and where he has gotten outs with two strikes.” In conjunction with the video loops he watches endlessly, Duncan has developed his own system of winning an unfair game. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Outside of this critique, a fairly important one in an era when Moneyball has created a divide between stats heads and baseball men so wide that Baseball America had to host a roundtable to bridge this gap, Bissinger’s book succeeds on many other levels. He burrows deep into La Russa’s mind during a pivotal stretch of the season. He follows Duncan’s approach to pitching. Yet, he doesn’t find much room for Joe Pettini, the Cardinals’ bench coach. While many bench coaches are often considered second managers, Pettini was noticeably absent from the game. Pettini’s is an odd omission. Yet, Bissinger illustrates how managers are constantly re-evaluated game strategy. Just how then does the bench coach fit in?

Of the more interesting aspects of the tale, Bissinger provides only a few fleeting glimpses. He touches on how players, managers and coaches often take the game with them off the field and struggle in their efforts to create separate niches for the game and for their families. His stunningly emotional treatment of Darryl Kile’s death really brings home the human aspects of baseball and the humanity of those superstars performing under the watchful eyes of millions every night.

While the conflict over Moneyball is destined to rear its ugly head for a while, Bissinger’s book provides that other look into baseball. This is the baseball played on the field and not in the General Manager’s office. It’s the game played by millions of youngsters in Little League, High School, College, and the Minors. And it’s all beautifully perfect.


RSS River Ave. Blues

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  • Jordan Montgomery and the prospect of an Opening Day roster spot March 23, 2017
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    Thanks to Didi Gregorius‘ shoulder injury, the Yankees suddenly have an opening at shortstop that will last for at least the first few weeks of the regular season. They have a small army of okay-ish fill-in shortstops, and now they have to sort through them and figure out who can best handle the job. Opening […] The post Spring Training Game Thread: In Searc […]
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    As expected, Greg Bird has officially been named the starting first baseman. Joe Girardi made the announcement this morning, according to Andrew Marchand. Bird is hitting .421/.500/.947 with four home runs and eleven extra-base hits this spring, the most in baseball. He’s been the team’s best hitter all Spring Training. Bird, 24, missed all of […] The post I […]
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