• New Website Coming: The National Pastime

    Posted by on February 5th, 2013 · Comments (0)

    Nice!

    Launches on Opening Day.

    Garlicfriesandbaseball’s Blog

    Posted by on February 4th, 2013 · Comments (0)

    Fun stuff.

    Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries And How To Prevent Them, For Athletes, Parents, And Coaches — Based On My Life In Sports Medicine

    Posted by on January 13th, 2013 · Comments (0)

    Anyone who has followed sports with serious attention has probably heard of Dr. James Andrews by now. But, for those who don’t know him, Dr. Andrews is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and a pioneer in arthroscopic surgery. He is also the team doctor for Auburn University, the University of Alabama, the Washington Redskins, and the Tampa Bay Rays. Sports Illustrated recently named him as one of the top forty most influential people in the NFL.

    And, he’s recently written a book entitled: Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for Athletes, Parents, and Coaches — Based on My Life in Sports Medicine.

    Here’s what Kirkus said about the book:

    A fully functional sports manual focused on the awareness and prevention of common athletic injuries.

    Andrews, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon in his fifth decade of practicing sports medicine, is uniquely qualified to pen this type of medical sourcebook. He firmly believes many organized-sports ailments are preventable, and he aggressively advocates for grass-roots educational programs and prevention campaigns as effective frontline measures aimed at tempering the “crisis point” injury level he feels has been reached for youth-sports injuries. In the opening chapters, the author offers a condensed history of sports medicine, pertinent statistics and a snapshot profile of his life. Andrews then highlights three trauma priorities as assigned by the top sports-injury authorities: knee ACL damage, concussions (football) and overuse injuries (juvenile baseball pitchers). He states that while the “invincibility” felt by youth enables athletic injuries, increased parental involvement in children’s sporting lives should stem this pattern. After citing baseball as the source of the highest number of acute injuries, Andrews calls attention to accident-prone, less-obvious activities like cheerleading, golf and water polo. Medically speaking, he forewarns parents not to consider an MRI test for their ailing child as the exclusive method of diagnostic conclusiveness and offers a fascinating chapter dispelling popular sports-injury myths. The bulk of the guidebook briskly examines a wide swath of popular youth sports and counters their associated maladies with safety tips and injury-prevention measures.

    A gold mine of contemporary cautionary information for the sports-minded.

    Per the book, every year, more than three and a half million children under the age of 14 require medical treatment for injuries incurred while participating in team or individual sports. And, almost one-half of all sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse as part of athletic training or conditioning. However, studies show that at least 60% of overuse injuries can be prevented by a safety precautions.

    Oh, and, by the way, per the book, in 2007, there were 920,000 football players under the age of 18 treated in emergency rooms for injuries. Think about that when your kid says he wants to play football.

    With his new book, Andrews covers every sport you can think of, the risk of injuries therein, and how to possibly prevent them.

    And, that’s why “Any Given Monday” is a must-own reference manual for coaches, trainers, sports-administrators, parents, grand-parents and young athletes themselves.

    I’m glad that I now have a copy of this book. And, if you’re involved in sports, especially at the youth level, you’ll want to get a copy of “Any Given Monday” as well.

    Parental Guidance

    Posted by on January 1st, 2013 · Comments (0)

    We took the kids to see Parental Guidance this afternoon. When it first started, I thought “Oh, this is going to be painful.” It was somewhat slow at the onset. But, it got better and had some decent laughs and touching moments. And, there was even a Ralph Branca cameo.

    The critics hated this one – but, the audience seems to like it. Our theater was crowded – and some people applauded at the end of the movie (and not just because it was over). Decent family flick.

    Out Of My League

    Posted by on January 1st, 2013 · Comments (0)

    I’m about ten months late on this one, but, I just started reading Dirk Hayhurt’s book “Out of My League.”

    Actually, I got it for Christmas from my wife and kids – and I am now about half done with it.

    That all said, “Out of My League” is an awesome read. I’m loving it, so far.

    This book is not for the kids – due to the language, at times, as well as some of the sexual nature of some of the topics in touches upon. But, it’s just as good as books like Ball Four and other insider view baseball books.

    I highly, highly, highly, recommend this book.

    New Jersey Baseball Magazine

    Posted by on December 27th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Very cool.

    Born To Run

    Posted by on November 5th, 2012 · Comments (4)

    At the advice of “nwyank,” I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

    Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, last week, I had lots of time on my hands. We had a 120-hour stretch with no power (or heat, cable and internet). And, when it was daylight, I would read the book. But, it was so good that I also read it by flashlight after the sun went down.

    Of course, I am late to this party. The book is a National Bestseller and came out in 2009. But, if you run and have not read this one yet, you should check it out. It’s a amazing. And, even if you don’t run, it’s a fascinating story and you will enjoy this book.

    Related, a belated RIP to Caballo Blanco.

    You Gotta Have Balls

    Posted by on October 5th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    To be totally candid, when I was first presented with the opportunity to review Brandon Steiner’s “You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire,” at first blush, my reaction was “Do I really want to read about this guy?” But, I decided to give it a go, nonetheless.

    And, now, I am very happy that I decided to give it a try!

    Part autobiography and part business philosophy help book, “You Gotta Have Balls” is an amazing read. It’s interesting, entertaining, and educational!

    Some kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and others are born on third base screaming that they just hit a triple. However, Steiner’s upbringing was the polar opposite of being privileged – as he grew up in a broken home, living in great poverty. However, with the support of his hard working mother, Steiner lifted himself from that and took advantages of opportunities – often thinking outside the box to create them rather than waiting for them to self-identify. And, later in life, Steiner used social networking – long before that term was branded as we know it today – to continue finding that next opportunity. Brandon Steiner’s life is one of the great modern day American success stories. And, it’s told in griping fashion in “You Gotta Have Balls.” Also, the business/management/customer service tips shared in this book are excellent as well.

    I highly recommend checking out “You Gotta Have Balls.” And, you don’t even have to be a baseball or sports fan to enjoy this book. If you like rags to riches stories or sound business strategy books, you’ll find a lot in this one for you.

    Yankee Miracles: Life With The Boss And The Bronx Bombers

    Posted by on September 17th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I just finished reading Ray Negron’s new book “Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers.” (For those not aware, Ray Negron is a former Yankees batboy who later became a Yankees special advisor. And, you can get his entire story in this book.)

    Having read the books by Matthew McGough and Squeegee Castillo, I totally understand how batboys can development a special relationship with players on a major league team.

    However, Negron took it to another level – forming strong relationships with the team owner and manager as well. It was amazing to read how much George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin relied on Ray in the 1970′s.

    Basically, “Yankee Miracles” is Ray Negron’s life story, how he became involved with the Yankees and what he did with the team. And, each chapter details his relationship and/or tells a story about a different person. This includes George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Catfish Hunter as well as modern day Yankees Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner. Further, in the stories shared, Ray tells us about the good work or “miracles” that this person has provided.

    I truly enjoyed reading this book. And, I think that any baseball fan would enjoy it as well.

    For Yankees fans, if you were born before 1969, I would say that “Yankee Miracles” is a must read for you. And, if you were born after 1968, and enjoy learning more about the Yankees that you may have been too young to witness, you will want to check this one out, without question. It’s a great read full of wonderful stories that you probably never heard told before this book.

    Ozzie’s School Of Management: Lessons From The Dugout, The Clubhouse, And The Doghouse

    Posted by on July 3rd, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I’ve recently read Rick Morrissey’s “Ozzie’s School of Management: Lessons from the Dugout, the Clubhouse, and the Doghouse.”

    It’s sort of a mix between a book on Ozzie Guillen’s strategy on running a ballclub and a biography on the fiery manager.

    It was interesting to see how Guillen does all the things that you hear successful managers do – protecting his players, putting family first, getting the clutter out of his players’ heads, etc. But, it was even more interesting – as someone not from/in the Chicago area – to read about all the antics that went on while he was managing the White Sox. Also, you really get an appreciation for how much of a “baseball rat” Ozzie was as a player and still is as a manager.

    Guillen is a throwback…like Billy Martin and Whitey Herzog. And, that’s clear when you read “Ozzie’s School of Management.”

    Just one warning with this one: This is not a book for the kids. It’s unfiltered and uncensored. But, since it’s Ozzie Guillen, that makes sense.

    Major League Dads: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect On The Fathers Who Inspired Them To Love The Game

    Posted by on June 14th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    With Father’s Day right around the corner, this is a perfect time to share some information on the new book “Major League Dads: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect on the Fathers Who Inspired Them to Love the Game.”

    First, some background on it via the Publisher -

    Baseball is America’s favorite pastime and one of the best ways for fathers and sons to bond. Major League Dads is an inspirational look at such connections through a collection of heartfelt essays from interviews with [137] of the top players in Major League Baseball, such as David Wright, Carlos Pena, Brad Lidge, and Derek Jeter. Through personal recollections, you can read firsthand what their dads meant to them growing up and how they coached them to success both on and off the field.

    And, here’s some more via a Press Release on the book:

    It’s a long road from Wiffle ball in the backyard to the bright lights of Major League Baseball.

    A ballplayer’s journey begins with pitch and catch; he gets organized in T-ball, machine-pitch leagues, coach-pitch leagues, Little League; he escalates his talents with travel teams, pony league, Babe Ruth League; he becomes a ballplayer in high school and college. And maybe, just maybe, there is a career thereafter. But behind every ballplayer’s journey is a father who loves his son and shares with him a passion for the game as he coaches and mentors him down this long road.

    Throughout the journey, he shares his baseball knowledge. He helps keep things in perspective while he stokes the passion. He preaches discipline, hustle, work ethic, determination, patience, sportsmanship, the fundamentals, and the Golden Rule. On the bench, in the stands or in the backyard, these dads teach their sons more about life than how to hone their swings.

    This spring, Kevin Neary and Leigh Tobin offer an amazing collection of heartwarming and humorous stories, vivid memories, and great advice, shared by players who each declare that they made it to the majors because of their fathers. MAJOR LEAGUE DADS: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect on the Fathers Who Inspired Them to Love the Game, Foreword by Terry Francona (Running Press, May 2012), is a special gift to every man who’s ever thrown a baseball to his father or son, as these talented sons pay tribute to the men who showed their love through a batted ball, a session of pitch and catch and a lifetime of loving guidance.

    Each story in MAJOR LEAGUE DADS describes the influence the players’ fathers had on their baseball careers. Some had the major league dreams at a young age and some didn’t, but they all had their fathers as their coaches in some capacity. Players like Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Greg Maddux, Joe Mauer, Jimmy Rollins, Mariano Rivera, David Wright, Mark Teixeira, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Evan Longoria, all three Molina brothers, and a handful of second- and third-generation stars reveal personal stories and warmest memories. These are men who love the game and who love to talk about their fathers—a perfect combination for this book.

    Some dads were more supportive than baseball wise. Instead of talking baseball or teaching how to throw the perfect knuckleball, they were motivators, cheerleaders, always standing by with helpful words of encouragement, lessons, or guiding principles that they return to even today: “You are only as good as you next at-bat”; “Never give up”; “Never get too high or too low”; “Learn from your mistakes”; “Be humble”; “Respect the game and their teammates”; “Think for yourself”; “Play the game right”. This is key information in the game and in life.

    Filled with insight and amazing anecdotes from some of the biggest icons in the game, MAJOR LEAGUE DADS is less about baseball and more about the relationships between fathers and their sons. It’s about seeing your son in a major league uniform for the first time. It’s about seeing the only man who really matters in the stands watching you with a big smile on his face. These men have put in the hours with their sons, made many sacrifices, and helped them love baseball, because they love their kids. And the result is a strong father-son bond with each other and the game.

    I’ve read “Major League Dads” and enjoyed the book. I believe that any parent or child would be touched by some of the stories shared with this work. Best yet, this is a clean and wholesome book that you can share with your loved ones without any fears regarding its content. And, I would bet, after reading it, you’re going to want to find your parent and/or child and go have a catch. The stories of these big leaguers and the relationships that they have with their fathers are wonderful.

    Personally, I have always said that, just as baseball and apple pie are staples of America, statistics and fathers are the hemoglobin of baseball. And, “Major League Dads” backs that up. I highly recommend this book.

    Starting And Closing: Perseverance, Faith, And One More Year

    Posted by on June 3rd, 2012 · Comments (8)

    I just finished reading John Smoltz’ book Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year.

    I suppose that I should call it an autobiography. But, it’s not your typical sports autobiography – both in format and content. The flow to this one was very interesting – as well as the narrative tone.

    At times, Smoltz comes across as angry. Yet, other times, he’s playful. Often, he’s very hard-nosed. And, then again, very often John is highly spiritual. Through all this, John Smoltz is always insightful.

    It was amazing to read about Smoltz’ youth, passion for baseball and the Detroit Tigers, dealing with injuries and personal issues, his religious journey and his transformation from starter to closer and back to starter again.

    If you enjoy baseball books and welcome an opportunity to learn more about one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, I highly recommend checking out John Smoltz’ “Starting and Closing.”  I’m glad that I read it.

    The Eephus League Magazine

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2012 · Comments (1)

    This is just awesome.

    The site is a unique reading experience. The entire issue loads into one page, so give it a few moments to load in. The up and down arrow keys will allow you to cycle through “pages”, there is a table of contents at the beginning of the issue that will zip you to the main stories.

    The Baseball Hall Of Shame: The Best Of Blooperstown

    Posted by on May 19th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    From 1985 to 1992, Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo authored “The Baseball Hall of Shame” series which were a collection of baseball “goofs and gaffes” tales from Major League Baseball history.  If you’ve ever read any of these books, you know that they’re full of fun stuff for baseball fans.

    After a 20 year break in the series, Nash and Zullo are back and have released The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown. This new offering covers the zany, goofy, and wacky things in baseball from 1885 through 2011.

    What I like most about this collection is that the authors aim to share the fun and true little known stories over the widely known ones.

    Inauspicious debuts, wacky plate appearances, fielding fiascoes, practical jokes, post-season screw-ups, nutty habits and idiosyncrasies, hothead meltdowns, and undignified ballpark promotions are just some of the things that you’ll find covered with this book.

    There’s something for every baseball fan in The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown.

    Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity And The Perfect Knuckleball

    Posted by on May 18th, 2012 · Comments (1)

    I just finished reading R.A. Dickey’s Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.

    In a nutshell, from the minute I started reading Wherever I Wind Up, I could not put it down. This book is a true page-turner.

    Dickey’s story is full of interesting things – including his struggles with some terrible childhood tragedies and constant self-doubt. Of course, there’s also his unique place in the history of the baseball draft and elbow issues – coupled with the conversion from being a conventional pitcher to becoming a knuckleballer. Lastly, there’s Dickey’s spiritual journey which is also detailed in this memoir.

    However, I think what got me most with Wherever I Wind Up was Dickey’s gift as a writer and a storyteller. This just may be one of the best written baseball autobiographies that I have read in the last 35 years. And, if it’s not the best, it’s in the team picture, for sure.

    I highly recommend reading R.A. Dickey’s Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.

    The Juju Rules: Or, How To Win Ballgames From Your Couch: A Memoir Of A Fan Obsessed

    Posted by on May 6th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Hart Seely, aka “el duque” of the blog “IT IS HIGH! IT IS FAR! IT IS…”, one of the forces behind the awesome collection “O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto,” has written a new book: The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed.

    I’ve never met Hart. But, after reading his book, I would have to cast Larry David (Yankee fan, by the way*) to play the lead in this one – if asked to take the book and translate it to the screen. As Hart tells the story of his life as a Yankees fan with this new book, interwoven with his “manifesto that reveals the deep secrets of fan jinxes, hexes, and charms,” several times I pictured the story being played out like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Seriously, it’s that quirky, funny and interesting.

    Flat out, Hart Seely is a dude that must Yankees fans can resonate with – albeit seeing a bit of themselves in him, or, being reminded of someone they know who is (or was) a passionate fan of the team. And, you get that from reading “The Juju Rules” – throughout the entire book. That said, I highly recommend this book to all Yankees fans.

    Further, back in 2005, when I first saw the movie “Fever Pitch,” I thought to myself “This is a film that a diehard fanatic of a team can appreciate as it depicts so many moments that we all share and emotions that we all have inside us – again, as fanatics of a particular team.” And, the same thing applies to “The Juju Rules.”

    Anyone who was ever lived and died with the sundry good fortunes and tribulations of their favorite baseball team, and who has allowed their fanatic association to creep into their everyday life, will enjoy reading “The Juju Rules” – and seeing that there are others like them, out there.

    Hart Seeley’s wit is keen and his story-telling delivery with this work is often hilarious. I was very happy to have read The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed.

    *You have to read the book to get this joke.

    Damn Yankees

    Posted by on May 2nd, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I just had a chance to review Rob Fleder’s Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World’s Most Loved (and Hated) Team.

    For those not aware, this book is a collection of 24 original essays by contemporary writers each focusing on the Yankees.

    There’s some uniqiue stuff in this one. I found the features by Michael Paterniti, Steve Wulf, Will Leitch, Jane Leavy, Rick Telander, Bill James and Roger Director to be interesting.

    If you’re a Yankees fan and enjoy reading about the team, I suggest checking out Damn Yankees.

    Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, And Baseball’s Greatest Gift

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2012 · Comments (3)

    I just finished reading “Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift.”

    By now, you’ve probably heard the story behind this one.

    If you’re a Yankees fan, you will find “Driving Mr. Yogi” to be a wonderful book to read. Honestly, I cannot think of any type of Yankees fan who will not enjoy this one.

    If you’re a baseball fan, you will also enjoy “Driving Mr. Yogi.”

    Perhaps – and it’s just a maybe – you may not be “as into it” as a Yankees fan.

    But, I suspect even a Yankees-hater, as long as they’re a fan of the game, will find this to be nice read and very interesting.  There’s enough baseball-feel-good stuff in there to keep any hardball fan engaged while reading this book.

    That said, I think even those who don’t give a darn about baseball would enjoy the story told with “Driving Mr. Yogi.” Anyone who has ever loved an aging parent, grand-parent or some surrogate respected elder will be able to appreciate this story and be touched by it.

    Picture a third person telling you the story of Tuesdays with Morrie with the story now having a baseball backdrop. That’s sort of what you get with “Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift.”

    I highly recommend this book.

    Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, And Assassination During The 1934 Tour Of Japan

    Posted by on April 8th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I recently had a chance to check out Robert K. Fitts’ new book “Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan.”

    Here’s more on it from the publisher:

    In November 1934 as the United States and Japan drifted toward war, a team of American League all-stars that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, future secret agent Moe Berg, and Connie Mack barnstormed across the Land of the Rising Sun. Hundreds of thousands of fans, many waving Japanese and American flags, welcomed the team with shouts of “Banzai! Banzai, Babe Ruth!” The all-stars stayed for a month, playing 18 games, spawning professional baseball in Japan, and spreading goodwill.

    Politicians on both sides of the Pacific hoped that the amity generated by the tour—and the two nations’ shared love of the game—could help heal their growing political differences. But the Babe and baseball could not overcome Japan’s growing nationalism, as a bloody coup d’état by young army officers and an assassination attempt by the ultranationalist War Gods Society jeopardized the tour’s success. A tale of international intrigue, espionage, attempted murder, and, of course, baseball, Banzai Babe Ruth is the first detailed account of the doomed attempt to reconcile the United States and Japan through the 1934 All American baseball tour.

    Rob Fitts is an expert on this subject matter. And, this book is very well researched.

    The Blog High Heat Stats recently did a review on this one. (Click here to check it out.)

    There’s a lot to this story. And, to learn more about it, you should consider checking out “Banzai Babe Ruth.”

    Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before The Babe To After The Boss

    Posted by on April 2nd, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Five weeks ago, I shared some advance praise for Marty Appel’s Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before The Babe To After The Boss.

    Having now finished the book, I can share some additional feedback on this work.

    Pinstripe Empire is amazing. Every time I put it down, I could hardly wait until the next time I picked it up. In fact, it was so good that I plan on reading it again – and then perhaps again for a third time.

    Pinstripe Empire covers everything in terms of the Yankees experience from the beginning through the 2011 season. It not only covers the players and what happened each season – it covers what went on with the front office, the Stadium, the broadcast of games, the fans, and what was happening around baseball.

    The Yankees are the most storied franchise in baseball history and Pinstripe Empire is the complete telling of their story. This is a must read for every Yankees fan and it will be an enjoyable read for anyone who is a fan of the game – period. 

    Obviously, I highly recommend reading Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before The Babe To After The Boss.

    Baseball Fantography: A Celebration In Snapshots And Stories From The Fans

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I’ve mentioned the Fantography project here in the past. So, I was looking forward to reviewing the book “Baseball Fantography: A Celebration In Snapshots And Stories From The Fans.”

    Here some information on the book from the publisher -

    Baseball Fantography is a celebration of baseball through the eyes of fans via photos they’ve taken of players, ballparks, and related subjects over the past nine decades, along with essays, sidebars, and quotes. The project originated when the author discovered an old 1960s snapshot of himself as a teenager with his idol, Roger Maris, at Yankee Stadium. Realizing that he couldn’t be the only one with these hidden photographic gems, he began collecting baseball photos taken by fans. The book contains more than 250 never-before-published images (Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton) in chapters on subjects like ballparks, spring training, broadcasters, dugouts, and baseball cards, and features contributions from baseball aficionados and notables like Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, a 35-year veteran Topps baseball photographer, and a former president of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    This is a fun book. It does contain many unique and interesting baseball photos. But, it’s also full of great baseball quotes, stories, and nuggets of baseball information (such as what “Murphy Money” is and a list of the more famous baseball card errors).

    Anyone who is a died-in-the-wool baseball fan will enjoy going perusing “Baseball Fantography.” And, someone who is just interested in the game will learn some fun stuff about baseball by reading this book as well. I recommend checking it out.

    It hits stores on April 1st, 2012.

    Related, click here for a podcast interview of Andy Strasberg – the man behind Fantography.

    The Fielding Bible — Volume III

    Posted by on March 13th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Having read and enjoyed Volume I and Volume II, I was very much looking forward to checking out The Fielding Bible – Volume III

    Here some information on what’s in this one:

    • Defensive Runs Saved— these defensive evaluations are back with significant enhancements to the eight-component system first introduced in Volume II.
    • Timer Plus/Minus—the Plus/Minus system, which measures each fielder’s ability to turn batted balls into outs, gets a facelift to incorporate the brand new batted ball timer information, creating a better and objective fielding evaluations.
    • Good Play/Misplay Runs Saved—turns Bill James’ in-depth Good Fielding Plays and Defensive Misplays system into a new component of Defensive Runs Saved, adding previously-unrecorded aspects of defense like scooped throws and pitch blocks.
    • Total Runs—adding Pitching Runs Created to offensive, defensive, and baserunning ratings to combine every aspect of the game into one tell-all number for every player.
    • The latest essay from Bill James on defense.
    • Defensive scouting reports and player commentaries on every regular and semi-regular position player in baseball.
    • New studies on crucial aspects of fielding, including defensive positioning, the “Ted Williams shift”, bunts, double plays, outfielder arms and catcher defense.

    The Fielding Bible – Volume III contains some fascinating findings and should be considered the “go to” reference resource on the defensive ability of recent major league baseball players.  This book helps you eliminate the noise around a player’s defensive value and separates fact from fiction.  You can spend hours going through The Fielding Bible – Volume III and still not touch the bottom of this wonderful pool of data and analysis.  If you’re a fan of sabermetrics, this is a must read for you.  And, if you’re a fan of baseball, it will be to your benefit to check out The Fielding Bible – Volume III .  I sincerely recommend this book.

    Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before The Babe To After The Boss

    Posted by on February 26th, 2012 · Comments (4)

    I’m currently reading a review copy of Marty Appel’s Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss – which is due out on May 8th of this year.

    Here’s some background on the book via the publisher:

    It has been almost 70 years since Frank Graham wrote The New York Yankees and not since then has there been a truly narrative, traditional history of the team. Thankfully historian Marty Appel, the Yankees’ former PR director, definitively updates their storied history in Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss (May 8, 2012; Bloomsbury hardcover; ISBN 978-1-60819-492-6; $28.00; 640 pages).

    While the book hits every important historical milestone in the team’s history, it is the backstage anecdotes and the personalities of players, managers and executives that make the story great reading. The reader is in the clubhouse as the team finally celebrates its first championship – and in the dugout at Fenway Park when they learn their manager, Miller Huggins, has died. There is Bob Shawkey’s bitterness over being fired as manager after one season, and the romp upending tradition produced by Larry MacPhail as his three-year reign as owner ends with a punch-out. There is the day scout Tom Greenwade first laid eyes on Mickey Mantle. There is Gene Michael pondering trading Mariano Rivera for Felix Fermin to play shortstop instead of Derek Jeter. And all the while in the background is New York City – a character in its own right in the story of this colorful team’s history.

    Further, here’s what Jane Leavy had to say about the book:

    “An opus. Marty Appel brings a fan’s passion and a historian’s dispassion to bear on the Pinstripe Empire. He makes familiar terrain new again and uncovers original material where no one else thought to look. This is the definitive history of the New York Yankees.”

    I am sincerely enjoying what I have read in Pinstripe Empire so far – and will do a full review of it when I am done with the book.

    When I first started reading it, my mind flashed back to the late 1970′s, when I was a young fan visiting Yankee Stadium. I remember, at that time, visiting a souvenir stand in the bowels of the Stadium where they sold yearbooks, those plastic batting helmets, baseballs stamped with team signatures, etc. There, in the display case, among the other sundry items for sale, was a stack of Peter Golenbock’s Dynasty. Seeing the cover of that book, then with pinstripes and the Yankees interlocking “NY” on the cover, on sale in the House That Ruth Built, I thought to myself “This must be a book that every Yankees fan has to read.”

    Now, reading Appel’s Pinstripe Empire, I’m thinking the same thing. I love how it tells the story and is not just a collection of hard facts. It’s a novel, not a text book. But, it’s still a great chronicle of the Yankees franchise – from its beginning through last season.

    Further, I would imagine that any fan of baseball history would enjoy reading this book.

    Again, I will share a complete review once I am done with the book. In any event, I wanted to share some news on this one now – in case some were not aware of its release in a couple of months. Based on what I have read so far, it’s worth having on your radar.

    Good Wood

    Posted by on February 25th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    I recently read Stuart Miller’s Good Wood: The Story of the Baseball Bat.

    Funny story: When I first started reading it, my wife and daughter saw me with it and asked “What are you reading?” And, when I told them that it was a book about the origin and history of baseball bats, they said “Only you…”

    Having read the book, I hope that’s not the case.

    Good Wood was very well researched and entertaining. Granted, I am a baseball junkie and perhaps someone who had little interest in the game may not have the same experience (as I did).

    In any event, there’s a lot of interesting things in Stuart’s book that I never knew about before reading it. And, Stuart has a nice writing style.

    I was very happy to have read Good Wood. In fact, given that it’s probably one of a kind due to the subject matter, and since it’s so well done, I would say that Good Wood: The Story of the Baseball Bat is something that you would want to have in your Essential Baseball Library.

    The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012

    Posted by on January 22nd, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Need a baseball fix to carry you over from Super Bowl madness to the start of Spring Training?   Or, are you always up for checking out a unique baseball book?  In either case, I recommend The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012.

    First, this year’s edition is much more “handy” as they’ve gone from a “8 1/2 x 11” inch format to a “7 x 9” inch format. This makes the book much more portable. But, more so, the book is full of commentary, analysis and historical features.

    To be candid, some of the sabermetric stuff in the book is over my head. (O.K., most of it is over my head.)  But, that’s more of a reflection on me than the authors. Yet, you don’t need to understand the math – at least I don’t – to enjoy what’s in there. (I’m fine with leaving the egg-head confirmation and debate tasks to those who are more into that type of metric-exercise.)

    For example, in Michael A. Humphreys’ “Simple Fielding Runs Estimates” feature, in the sidebars, it lists the “Defensive Regression Analysis” (DRA) all-time leaders for each position. And, I don’t need to know how the math works on these to appreciate the fact that Paul Blair and Gary Pettis are listed as the 4th and 5th best center fielders, respectively, after Andruw Jones, Willie Mays and Tris Speaker. I saw Blair and Pettis and it’s great to see them get their due in a study. (Ditto seeing Roy White as the 4th best left fielder – per DRA – after Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson and Barry Bonds.)

    Also, in Max Marchi’s “People Will Most Definitely Come” study, I don’t need to waste time trying to follow that the “adjusted R-squared is a statistical coefficient measuring the proportion of variability accounted for by the model” to enjoy that the results tell us that, from 1947, more people attended games when Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver or Vida Blue were pitching.

    There’s something for every baseball fan in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012. For the hardcore sabermetric crowd, there’s more than enough math in there to give their minds a rush. And, for those who just enjoy baseball commentary and or interesting revelations on baseball history, that’s there as well.

    The Bill James Handbook 2012

    Posted by on January 17th, 2012 · Comments (2)

    I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a raving fan of the Bill James Handbook which is produced annually by the good folks at Baseball Info Solutions and Acta Sports.

    That said, I was wondering if I would like The Bill James Handbook 2012 - since good things sometimes lose their luster through the years.

    Well, I can now share that I still love this book!  As in the past, it contains the following along with the career stats of every current big league player:

    • The Fielding Bible Awards
    • Runs Saved and Plus/Minus Leaders
    • Pitcher Projections
    • Hitter Projections
    • Baserunning Analysis
    • Manufactured Runs
    • Team Efficiency Summary
    • Player Win-Shares
    • 2011 Leader Boards
    • Manager’s Records
    • Instant Replay Records
    • Hall of Fame Monitor

    However, new, this year, it also includes a (1) Pitch Repertoire Section detailing pitch type breakdowns for all pitchers in baseball and (2) Rotation vs. Bullpen team charts showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s pitching staff.

    My favorite part of having this book? Thumbing through the pages and landing, at random, at a player’s career stats or some leader board or another part of the book. And, then using what you find to get your baseball thoughts going – where you then look up something else that the data forces into your head…and you keep doing it over and over from there. You can get lost for an hour, easy, each day, doing that with The Bill James Handbook 2012.  It’s a wonderful off-season baseball fan companion.  And, it’s handy to refer to during the season too.

    Moneyball DVD

    Posted by on January 8th, 2012 · Comments (7)

    The Moneyball DVD is being released next Tuesday.  If you saw the movie and liked it, here’s your chance to own it.  And, if you read the book and have yet to see the movie, here’s your chance to check it out at home.  Lastly, of course, if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s your chance to see what everyone is talking about…

    I’ve seen the movie – and have read the book – and I thought the film was an interesting look at the inner-workings of a major league baseball team.  My wife saw the movie with me – and knew nothing about the story prior to that – and found the film to be an effective depiction of a team that was supposed to be terrible and who went on to win 20 games in a row (and advance to the post-season) using unconventional means.

    Hey, just for fun, watch the movie and see where you can spot this item.

    Of course, the DVD and Blu-ray come with extras.  They’re listed below.  Again, the Moneyball DVD is being released on January 12th.

    MONEYBALL DVD Special Features include:

    • Deleted Scenes
    • Blooper with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill
    • Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game  (In this featurette we introduce the real Billy Beane, ex-professional baseball player and current General Manager of the Oakland A’s and reveal the history behind the story of “Moneyball”. Billy Beane explains his struggles being a small market GM and how having a third of the payroll of the Yankees or Red Sox forced him to think differently in drafting the 2002 team and to find value in players using On Base Percentage and Sabermetrics. We will also look at how the “Moneyball” concept is still influencing players and teams today. Director Bennett Miller, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and author Michael Lewis round out the story of “Moneyball” and how Billy Beane took on an institution and beat the odds of an unfair game.)
    • Moneyball: Playing The Game

    Exclusive to Blu-ray:

    • Drafting The Team
    • Adapting Moneyball  (No book adaptation is without its challenges and “Moneyball” was no exception. Author Michael Lewis, Screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian and director Bennett Miller discuss the themes of the book; being an underdog, taking on an institution and re-thinking tradition as well as what drew them to the project and why this story has meaning beyond the world of baseball. Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman introduce us to their characters and tell us why this was a project they wanted to be a part of.)
    • Exclusive MLB® 12 The Show Preview Trailer

    Dirk Hayhurst’s Old & New Books

    Posted by on November 18th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    If it seems that I have been talking about Dirk Hayhurst for the last four years, it’s because it’s true.

    Well, call me late to the party, but, I’ve just started reading his book The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran. And, while it seems silly in an after-the-fact way to recommend a book that was a New York Times Bestseller, gosh, this one is a must-read…and I say that before I’m finished with it.

    Why, oh why, did I wait a year and a half to read this book? That was stupid. Nonetheless, it’s wonderful book and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

    I won’t make the same mistake with his next book, Out of My League, which is due out in three months. Check out the advanced praise for that one.

    Miracle Ball: My Hunt For The Shot Heard ‘Round The World

    Posted by on October 16th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    Having just read Ralph Branca’s book, I was interested in checking out Brian Biegel’s Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World (which was just released in paperback this summer).

    Here’s a quick summary on Miracle Ball: It’s an account of Brian Biegel’s two-year effort to unravel the mystery of what happened to the homerun ball that Bobby Thomson hit on October 3, 1951 (off Branca) – aka “the Shot Heard ’Round the World.”

    Now, on the surface, standalone, that might seem ho-hum. However, that is far from the case!

    I found Miracle Ball to be suspenseful, engrossing, and extremely entertaining.  As I was reading it, I was kicking myself for not having read it when it was first released in 2009.  How could I have missed such a great book?  Really, this is one of those that you won’t want to put down, once you start reading it – as it is full of wonderful tales that make up Biegel’s journey.

    I would recommend this one to all baseball fans – young, old, crazed or casual.  I cannot think of any baseball fan who would not find Miracle Ball to be an interesting read.

    In fact, just for the “mystery solving” element alone that comes with this book, I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before in the 39 years that I’ve been reading baseball books:  I am going to recommend Miracle Ball to my mother – since it’s such a good “investigative” trip.  (She’s a fan of mystery books.) 

    Seriously, Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World is not just a great baseball book, it’s a nice book to read, period.  And, I highly recommend this one.

    A Moment In Time: An American Story Of Baseball, Heartbreak, And Grace

    Posted by on October 9th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    I just finished reading Ralph Branca’s A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace.

    It’s a wonderful story.  To so many, Branca is only known, unfairly, as the pitcher who allowed Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World.” However, as we learn reading this book, there’s so much more to his baseball career and life.

    Branca was pitching in the majors when he was 18-years old. As a 19-year old, albeit in a handful of games, he was excelling in the big leagues. And, at the ages of 21, 22 and 23, Ralph was an All-Star and a MVP candidate. Then, after allowing the homerun to Thomson, in the following Spring, he suffered a freak accident and his career was derailed. However, he kept fighting to still pitch in the game that he loved so much.

    One thing that I truly enjoyed about Branca’s A Moment in Time, was that it captured what is was like to grow-up in the ’40′s and play in the major leagues, and in New York, in the 1940′s and 1950′s. For example, Branca was there when Jackie Robinson broke into the big leagues – and Ralph was a Robinson supporter, and a good friend, to Jackie, right until Robinson’s death.

    But, what I enjoyed most was learning about Ralph Branca, the man. He is extremely elegant and you cannot come away from A Moment in Time without realizing this to be true – especially when you learn how Branca kept quiet for many, many, years after learning about how the Giants were stealing signs in 1951.

    Branca is now 85-years old. And, we’re so lucky that he’s taken the time to share his story. I highly recommend Ralph Branca’s A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace to baseball fans of any team and of all ages.

    For more on the book/story, click here.

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