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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Team Efficiency Summary
2011 Leader Boards
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.
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:
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.)
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.)
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.
Don’t let the title fool you. There’s little in here that is scandalous. If anything, it’s more like someone from the inside paying homage to his heroes.
Granted, there’s some stories in there which are not new and have told before in other places. And, at times, I wondered how much of the book was written by Squeegee Castillo (the Yankees bat boy/clubhouse attendant) and how much was done by the co-author, William Cane.
Nonetheless, this book is one that I think any Yankees fan would enjoy.
It pretty much confirmed everything I ever thought about Pettitte, Jeter, A-Rod, Boomer Wells, Torre, Bernie Williams, Posada, O’Neill, El Duque, Matsui, Girardi, Mariano Rivera, Giambi and Big Stein. And, it told me some things that I didn’t know about Clemens, Cone, Ramiro Mendoza, Ruben Sierra and Alfonso Soriano.
It was well worth reading and I recommend this book.
To be totally candid, when I opened up the mailing envelope, and I saw what was sent, at first blush, my reaction was: “They sent this to the wrong guy. I’m a Yankees fan. Why would I have interest in anything that is likely to be Mets fan drivel?” And, related, I threw the book in a pile with some other stuff that I was ignoring at that time.
Then, by chance, in a moment of total boredom and morbid curiosity, I cracked it open one day and starting reading it.
I found Megdal’s book to be very well written, funny, and quite enjoyable – even if the subject matter was the Mets. And, if you can get past the fact that it’s about the Mets, and just read “Taking the Field,” you may see yourself in this book…if you’re a passionate fan of a baseball team.
You can probably count the number of times you’re likely to see me recommend a book about the Mets on Carlos May’s right hand. But, Howard Megdal’s “Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves” is one worth checking out. It’s a really nice read…even if it is about the Mets.
Pure and simple, Flip Flop Fly Ball is a grand slam of a baseball book – it’s profound, amusing, informative and entertaining. At this point, and probably for the next year or so, Robinson’s Flip Flop Fly Ball will be the book that I suggest to anyone who asks me “Can you recommend a good book to buy for a baseball fan?” Actually, taking it a step further, I would recommend that you run out and buy Flip Flop Fly Ball for the baseball fan that you love – now.
Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure is the ultimate eye-candy for baseball fanatics. It’s an amazing collection of baseball facts, anecdotes and statistics presented in stunning visual gift wrapping. Seriously, if you love baseball you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
Why? Basically because Green is a student of Zen and a deep thinker. He’s also extremely open and honest with this book.
“The Way Of Baseball” is not voluminous. It’s a total of 208 pages of a 8.1″ x 5.1″ format book. But, it’s full of inside information that any baseball fan would enjoy. In sharing his thoughts, Green gives you a wonderful window of what it’s like to be a major league baseball player from the neck up.
Yogi Berra reportedly once said that “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” If you read “The Way Of Baseball,” you truly get an appreciation on how much baseball really is between the ears.
From fighting for playing time to reaching stardom, to dealing with the burden of contractual expectations, to switching teams and positions, to walking away from the game at an early age, Shawn Green covers many mental and emotional aspects of a pro-baseball players life. A baseball fan can learn a lot about a player’s life via reading “The Way Of Baseball.” I recommend checking this one out – as I enjoyed reading it.
What do you get with this one? It’s more than just the story of Derek Jeter through 2010. It’s the history of the Yankees from 1996 through 2010 as well. And, it’s full with inside stories that you’ve probably never heard.
What I truly enjoyed was the pacing/timing used by O’Connor in this book – both in telling the whole story and each sub-story therein. Too many times with biographies authors get bogged down with minutia. And, before you know it, you’re drowning in the details and getting bored. But, that does not happen with this book. O’Connor tells you what you need to know and does it in a manner that is smooth and enjoyable.
As I was reading this book, I began to think “This is the Yankee book of the summer.” But, it’s more than that. Ian O’Connor’s The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter is a must read for Yankees fans, of all ages and level of devotion, period. And, it’s a highly recommended read for any baseball fan who wants to know the back-story of someone who was a Mount Rushmore face for the game of baseball over the last 17 years.
Here’s the product description on this book via Amazon.com -
The idea of integrating baseball began as a dream in the mind of Branch Rickey. In 1947, as president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, he defied racism on and off the field to bring Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, changing the sport and the nation forever. Rickey’s is the classic American tale of a poor boy from Ohio whose deep-seated faith and dogged work ethic took him to the pinnacle of success, earning him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame and in history.
Bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jimmy Breslin is a legend in his own right. In his inimitable anecdotal style, he provides a lively portrait of Rickey and his times, including such colorful characters as Dodgers’ owner George V. McLaughlin (“dubbed George the Fifth” for his love of Scotch); diamond greats Leo Durocher, George Sisler, and Dizzy Dean; and Robinson himself, a man whose remarkable talent was equaled only by his resilience in the face of intolerance. Breslin brings to life the heady days when baseball emerged as the national pastime in this inspiring biography of a great American who remade a sport-and dreamed of remaking a country.
Back in September of last year, I was able to get an advance uncorrected proof of Breslin’s Branch Rickey and my first thought, before cracking the book open, was “What this going to tell me that I don’t already know?” And, boy, was I surprised.
Breslin’s Branch Rickey was very informative – but also very entertaining. It’s a quick read – but, a very, good one.
I sort of forgot about this one since I had that chance to give it a sneak peek seven month ago. But, recently – last week? – I heard Mike Francesa reference it on WFAN in passing and that reminded me that I wanted to mention it here.
If you were on the fence about this one, like I was when it first hit my hand, jump over to the “check it out” side and read it. You will not be disappointed.
I recently had a chance to check out The Cambridge Companion to Baseball. In its own billing, this book states that it “examines baseball in culture, baseball as culture, and the game’s global identity.” And, that’s exactly what it does, in my opinion.
Further, in the introduction of the book, there’s a great summary on what this one is all about when it says:
The Cambridge Companion to Baseball is a book for fans and aficionados, but it’s also for readers interested in viewing American culture through one of its most storied pursuits. Each chapter of this book reflects on a different social, historical, economic, or artistic aspect of baseball. Some chapters overlap chronologically as they focus on their particular histories…
Together, the book traces a lose chronological arc that takes the game from its antebellum liftoff to its twenty-first century on- and off-the-field turbulence.
Lastly, in his recommendation of this book, former Yankees pitcher and author of Ball Four, Jim Bouton says “It seems like the entire history of baseball is packed into this one book – and without a wasted word. It’s tremendously enjoyable – the perfect companion.”
I concur with Bouton. In fact, if I were teaching a course in baseball history, I would include the Cambridge Companion to Baseball as one of my pedagogical tools. It’s a fine collection of academic papers, intelligently written, that covers all the bases with respect to baseball the game and its impact outside the lines – both domestically and globally.
I’m not 100% sold that it was White’s voice that I was reading. Nonetheless, it was a very entertaining and educational read. (Maybe it was White’s voice? If it was, he’s got an incredible ability to recall details and facts. Everything in the book was spot on, as far as I could tell. But, usually, when an autobiography is that replete and error-free, I always assume a crafty and astute co-author and/or editor did most of the heavy lifting.)
What I enjoyed most about this one was that it served, somewhat, like a baseball history primer for the period from the 1950′s through the 1990′s – with lot of inside insight and information – as well as a telling you, at times, what was going on around the country, in general.
Bill White led an incredible life and is an intelligent person – while also being a “man’s man.” Related, his story in “Uppity” is one that I would recommend to any baseball fan – and not just for Yankees fans.
Like I said, I read it in one day (while I was serving jury duty). And, it wasn’t out of boredom. I was enjoying it so much, that I just wanted to keep reading it…and, before I knew it, I read the whole thing in one sitting. There’s no higher compliment that I can give a book than that one.
Two days ago, we had the 2011 Opening Day parade for my son’s Little League.
Last season, both my son and daughter played Little League ball – she was in Girl’s Rookie/Coach Pitch and he was T-Ball in the Spring and then Rookie/Coach Pitch Baseball later in the Fall. It was their first year of Little League.
In 2010, I was able to help out with both of their teams in an unofficial capacity – assisting when needed at practices and coaching the bases during Fall Ball.
This season, only my son is playing Little League – again in Rookie/Coach pitch. (He’s seven years old now.) And, I am officially a coach on his team this season - having attended all the clinics and certification classes that our league requires.
For me, being a part of his team’s coaching staff in an honor and a thrill. Related, I’ve been very interested in reviewing as many coaching and training resources as I can these days – and was very pleased to have recently checked out Trent Mongero’s Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play.
Trent Mongero was a switch hitting shortstop at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (Division I). While there, in 1989, he was voted the CAA “All-Conference” shortstop and “Conference Player of the Year.” After college, he played a season in the Atlanta Braves farm system.
Since then, Trent has been coaching high school baseball for over 19 years and currently is the head coach at North Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia. Mongero is also currently an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves.
In addition to his high school coaching duties, in 2001, he was co-head coach of the American Legion Post 10 squad that played for the North Carolina State Championship. Also in the summer of 2001, Trent was part of the Wilmington Sharks coaching staff. (The Sharks play in the Coastal Plains League which is a summer league consisting of many top college players in the country.) When Mongero was there in 2001, the Sharks won the CPL Championship.
Trent also instructs at some of the top college baseball camps – including the University of South Carolina, the USA National Team and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
Mongero has coached many players – including 12 athletes who have signed professionally and more than 80 student-athletes who have furthered their baseball careers at the collegiate level.
Within “Minimum Skill Expectations” there are chapters for “T-Ball” (Ages 4-6), “Coach or Machine Pitch” (Ages 7-8), and “Player Pitch” baseball (Ages 9-10). In each chapter, Mongero details the fundamental offensive and defensive skills for that level as well as providing information on the mechanics that should be covered for that age group. He also covers how to coach game skills at each level.
I found the information in each of these chapters to be top-notch and extremely useful. And, while the chapters included many excellent color photos that aid the learning experience, this is a good spot to note that Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play is not just a “How To” soft-cover manual. Along with the book comes a 4-hour instructional DVD. Between the text and photos in for each instructional item, and the companion DVD, Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play is everything you need to know about teaching kids ages four to ten proper baseball skills appropriate for their age.
However, on top of that, within “Outside The Lines” there are chapters on eliminating bad habits and keeping the game fun as well as highlighting common hitting and pitching flaws (and how to correct them). Also within this section is a chapter on “The State of Youth Baseball” that I feel is a must read for anyone coaching kids baseball when it comes to dealing with the players and their parents.
In “Prepare To Coach,” Mongero covers coaching qualifications and a guide to run a baseball practice. And, in “Travel and All-Star Teams,” he covers everything associated to putting together such a team – in terms of coaching, budgets, fundraising, procedures, etc.
When you factor everything that is covered in Trent Mongero’s Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play, and the quality of the information therein, and how it is supported with excellent photos and instructional DVD, I highly recommend this book to everyone who is involved in coaching youth baseball. In addition, I feel that anyone who has a child playing youth baseball would benefit greatly from this product as well. Lastly, if you’re a baseball fan, regardless if you have any interest in youth baseball, Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play is a book/DVD combination that may interest you.
As a baseball fan, how many times have you heard about a pitcher “pushing the ball” or “jumping out at the plate”? Or, how many times have you heard about a batter “not loading” or “not staying inside the baseball”? When hearing things like this, do you really know what they mean? If you read Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play you will know what they mean – because those types of matters are no different at the big league level than they are at the youth level.
This book is a collection of articles from James that were previously published at BillJamesOnLine.com – sans one which was a reprint from the 1983 Baseball Abstract. And, it’s not all on baseball. Included in the book are some James features on topics such as tipping, advertising; measuring rainfall, stop lights and the TSA.
Personally, I found the non-baseball stuff interesting. But, the meat of this one, of course, are the articles on baseball.
The baseball articles that stood out the most to me were on “hot” pitchers, a better model for the minor league structure, the 33 best starting rotations of all-time, the worst teams of all time, the best pitching matchups of the 1980′s, and the “Expansion Time Bomb” that will hit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom is a quick read. But, it’s a nice collection of Bill James articles to digest – especially if you didn’t see them when they were at BillJamesOnLine.com (which is a subscription site – albeit just $3 a month to subscribe). Most baseball fans would find something in this new Bill James book to enjoy. It’s worth checking out.
These are baseball themed falsh cards to teach your litle ones the alphabet.
Keith’s illustrations on each card are outstanding. I showed them to my kids. And, even though mine, almost seven and nine, are too old for alphabet flashcards, they enjoyed seeing how each letter was formed in a baseball setting – like a batter at the plate, a player in the field, player on deck, etc. Great stuff.
If you’re a big baseball fan and you have, or know someone who has, a little one about ready to learn the alphabet, you owe it to yourself to check out “B is for Baseball: Alphabet Cards.”
Derek Jeter is a sports hero in the tradition of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle. Admired for his leadership, performance under pressure, and work ethic, Jeter is the face of the New York Yankees. He is also a quintessentially modern star, appealing to baseball’s diverse audience, savvy about dealing with the press, and publicly enjoying the fruits of his celebrity. Derek Jeter draws upon more than 5,000 news articles and features from the New York Times by the paper’s superb sports reporters and columnists, including Dave Anderson, Jack Curry, Buster Olney, and George Vecsey, as well as Tyler Kepner, who has written the introduction. This book is filled with entertaining stories, penetrating insights, and colorful voices: not only Jeter himself, but also George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez, and a host of players, past and present. In words and photographs, it covers Jeter’s rise, his style of play, his best moments on (and off) the field, his character as a teammate and a leader, and his place in Yankee history.
I’ve been thumbing through an advance copy of this one for the last ten days or so. And, it;s very well done. The photographs – and there are a lot of them – are all first rate. Really beautiful shots. And, the collection of stories from the Times makes this one a nice historical review of Jeter’s career, on and off the field, to date.
“Derek Jeter: From the pages of The New York Times” is a must have, in my opinion, for the serious Derek Jeter fan. And, it’s something that every Yankees fan should consider picking up. I also believe that any baseball fan would enjoy going through this book.
The other day, I heard Cal Ripken Jr. on the radio talking about young baseball players. And, he said something like “When it comes to ball players, Dad always said that we’re trying to put 40-year old heads on 20-year old bodies.”
The minute I heard that, I thought of Derek Jeter. He was that 40-year old head on a 20-year old body when he first came up. Really, truly, a special young player. And, the career that he’s put together since that time has been no less wonderful. We’ve been blessed to have such a player on the Yankees for all this time. And, “Derek Jeter: From the pages of The New York Times” is reminder of all that – plus a celebration of that career at the same time. I’m glad I had the chance to go through it.
Today, I attended a Little League Coaches Clinic run by Big Al Price.
It was off-the-charts good. Big Al, and his son Scott, did a great job. If you’re hooked into Little League, in some form or manner, you owe it to yourself to get Big Al into your district to do a session with your managers and coaches. Or, if you’re just a parent looking to help your kid learn more, in a proper and effective way, on how to become a better baseball player, I highly recommend checking out Big Al’s DVD series.
Steven D. Levitt, the co-author of Freakonomics, said this book is “”The closest thing to Freakonomics I’ve seen since the original” and that’s dead, solid, perfect.
It would not shock me if Scorecasting went on to be one of the best books of 2011, period, as well as being one of the best sports books of this year. This book is intelligently written and yet extremely entertaining at the same time. Scorecasting is just as enlightening as…well…again… Freakonomics; but, it’s all about sports. I highly recommend checking this one out. Related, below is the description of this book via the publisher as well as some links to reviews for Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won that I thought were right on the money.
For the last ten days or so, I’ve been thumbing through the Graphical Player 2011. From a fantasy baseball player/owner perspective, it has lots of cool stuff, including, but not limited to:
A mega “Draft Pack” section for draft day assistance
Four years of career stats for over 1,000 players – including splits and minor-league stats down to Single-A for each player for 2010
Tables comparing each player to his competition at his position and a unique “mini-browser” showing five players with similar 2011 projections at the same position
Projected and historical dollar values for single and mixed Roto leagues, as well as tallies for point-based leagues and four years of factors for Scoresheet Baseball
Profiles of more than 100 top prospects with independent rankings from three experts
Full player stats by team for 2010
And, it has all kinds of new stats like Runs Scored % and RBI % for hitters and Lead and Disaster Starts for pitchers – to go along with some funky fantasy league stats like Caught Stealing, Complete Games, Blown Saves, Holds, Quality Starts, etc.
But, even if you’re not a fantasy baseball player, you’ll enjoy going through this one – just for the stats and player commentary. Now, for some Yankees stuff via Graphical Player 2011:
A-Rod’s “Hit %” and “Runs Scored %” have gone down each season from his MVP year in 2007
Rob McQuown’s 2011 projection in the book has Robinson Cano topping out at 20 HR and a .297 BA
David Robertson’s BB/9 rate has gone from 4.5 in 2008 to 4.7 in 2009 to 4.8 in 2010
Rob McQuown’s 2011 projection in the book has A.J. Burnett winning 11 games with an ERA of 4.74
If you play fantasy baseball, you’ll want to have Graphical Player 2011 at your side on draft day and during the season. And, if you don’t play fantasy baseball, you’ll still enjoy this one, like I did, thumbing through it – feeding a baseball fix – waiting for the 2011 season to start.