• 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.

    Clubhouse Confidential: A Yankee Bat Boy’s Insider Tale Of Wild Nights, Gambling, And Good Times With Modern Baseball’s Greatest Team

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

    I loved this book

    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.

    Taking The Field: A Fan’s Quest To Run The Team He Loves

    Posted by on August 15th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    A couple of weeks ago, unsolicited, a copy of Howard Megdal’s “Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves” was sent to me.

    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.

    Guess what?  Right out of the chute,  “Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves” was very engrossing.  And, the further I read, the more I wanted to read on.

    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.

    Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure

    Posted by on July 29th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    I’ve heard a lot of buzz on Craig Robinson’s book Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure. So, I was very eager to check this one out.  And, now that I have read it, I’m thrilled to share my review on it.

    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.

    The Way Of Baseball: Finding Stillness At 95 MPH

    Posted by on June 19th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    Shawn Green’s “The Way Of Baseball: Finding Stillness At 95 MPH” is an atypical jock biography, to say the least. 

    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.

    The Captain: The Journey Of Derek Jeter

    Posted by on May 30th, 2011 · Comments (39)

    I just finished reading Ian O’Connor’s The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter.  And, I loved this book. 

    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.

    Jimmy Breslin’s Branch Rickey

    Posted by on May 2nd, 2011 · Comments (9)

    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.

    The Cambridge Companion To Baseball

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2011 · Comments (2)

    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.

    Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play

    Posted by on April 13th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    On Monday, I read Bill White’s Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play.

    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.

    Winning Baseball For Beginner To Intermediate Play

    Posted by on April 4th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    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.

    Trent Mongero breaks Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play into four sections:

    • Minimum Skill Expectations
    • Outside The Lines
    • Prepare To Coach
    • Travel and All-Star Teams

    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.

    Lastly, to get a taste of what the Winning Baseball for Beginner to Intermediate Play DVD (which is included with this wonderful book) is like, check out Mongero’s YouTube channel. Here’s one of the video from that:

    Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours On The Way To Conventional Wisdom

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2011 · Comments (13)

    Solid Fool's Gold: Detours On The Way To Conventional Wisdom I recently had a chance to read the new Bill James book: Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom.

    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.

    B Is for Baseball: Alphabet Cards

    Posted by on March 18th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    Simply Read Books recently sent me Doug Keith’s “B is for Baseball: Alphabet Cards.”

    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: From The Pages Of The New York Times

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

    On March 1st of this year, the book “Derek Jeter: From the pages of The New York Times” was released. Here’s more on the book from the publisher:

    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.

    Big Al Baseball

    Posted by on March 6th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    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.

    Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won

    Posted by on January 28th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    I’ve been reading Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won and loving it.

    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…wellagain… 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.

    (more…)

    Graphical Player 2011

    Posted by on December 11th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    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.

    The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle And The End of America’s Childhood

    Posted by on December 5th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    By now, you’ve probably seen the reviews on Jane Leavy’s “The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood.”  (And, if not, click here and here for a few samples of what’s been said on this one to date.)

    In any event, since I’ve just finished reading this one, I thought I would add my opinion to the party – albeit seven weeks later than most of the other reviews of “The Last Boy.”

    Without question, Jane Leavy’s book on Mickey Mantle is one of the best baseball biographies that I have read in the last 35 years. You can go back as far as Al Stump’s Cobb or as recent as James Hirsch’s Willie Mays and “The Last Boy” ranks right up there with them.

    Now, I’ve read books on Mantle in the past – and there have been a lot of them. And, many of us know his story – as a player and after. But, Leavy offers such a robust picture of the man and performs some incredible sleuthing in this effort that you’re bound to be impressed with her book.

    Me? Until reading this book, I never appreciated, fully, what it was like when Mickey Mantle first made the Yankees. Picture a player who had the speed of Carl Crawford or Ichiro Suzuki combined with the tape-measure power of a batter like Adam Dunn or Darryl Strawberry playing in the major leagues at the age of nineteen and put on a team that’s in the media capital of the world and who just won three of the last four World Series. What would that be like today in terms of hype? A-Rod circa 1995-96? Or, Bryce Harper, say, a year from now? Maybe…but…probably not. Remember, we’re talking about the New York Yankees here. Plus, in many ways, Mantle was being pegged as the successor to Joe DiMaggio too, at the time. Need a little more pressure?

    I cannot imagine what that would be like for a player today. And, perhaps, Mantle was blessed to have this happen in the 1950’s? What would his career been like, today, if he was 19-years old in 2010 with all this talent? Now, there’s food for thought.

    Usually, when I read a baseball book this good, and it involves the Yankees, I suggest that it’s something that may interest baseball fans and that it’s something that all Yankees fans should check out. But, Leavy’s book is better than that. “The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood” is a must read for all baseball fans. And, if you haven’t read it, get it on your holiday wish list. (Just one caveat, if you’re buying this one for someone else this holiday season, it’s a “PG-13” book, without question, so, use good judgement if you’re giving it to a youngster.)

    Please feel free to use the comments section of this entry to discuss what you’ve heard on this book, or your thoughts on it, or to just discuss “Mick” in general.

    The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011

    Posted by on November 29th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    For the past few days, I’ve been going through The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011.

    As usual, it’s full of good stuff.

    This edition contains all the advanced metrics and performance data that a sabermetric fan wants to see in an annual. And, this includes all the granular stuff which is the latest craze. But, it also has some very entertaining essays that any baseball fan can enjoy – such as Anna McDonald’s “A Perfect Summer Dream” and Craig Wright’s “A Gentleman Remembered.”

    Oh, and, if you’re into fielding stats, it has an entire section on “The Future of Fielding” with everything that you need to know about FIELDf/x.

    Heck, you can even get little morsels of information within the essays that jump out at you. For example, in Chris Jaffe’s “The Best and Worst Benches of All Time,” we see that the Yankees bench in 2005 was the 5th worst in baseball history. And, in “The Leaders of 2011,” we see that “Oliver” (which is The Hardball Times projection system) predicts that Alex Rodriguez will not hit 29 homeruns in 2011.

    There are essays in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 by a lot of the names that you know from around the internet. These include, but are not limited to, Geoff Young, John Beamer, Steve Treder, Craig Calcaterra, Dave Studenmund, Richard Barbieri, Brian Borawski, Vince Gennaro, Dave Cameron, John Dewan, Rob Neyer, Jon Daly, Sean Smith, John Walsh, Tom Tango, Greg Rybarczyk and the aforementioned Jaffe and Wright.

    On sale now, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 is a great hot stove companion for baseball fans of all levels. It gets your attention, makes you think, and teaches you a thing or two in the process.

    Baseball: A New York Love Story

    Posted by on November 5th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    I missed this one when it first aired on PBS back in September. But, I caught some of it tonight. Great video clips and some fun fan interviews. If you’ve missed it too, it’s on again this Sunday at 10:30 pm ET.

    The Bill James Handbook 2011

    Posted by on November 4th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    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 Publications. So, naturally, I was thrilled when The Bill James Handbook 2011 arrived in the mail last Monday.

    On last year’s edition, I wrote:

    As always, the Bill James Handbook 2010 is the perfect off-season companion for the baseball stat junkie. It’s a joy to curl up with a copy of this book and allow yourself to get lost for minutes or hours – immensely enjoying the journey as you cherry-pick on the snapshots of the data therein. Most times, I’m just happy thumbing through the pages and landing, at random, at a player and checking his career stats.

    And, that’s no different with this year’s edition.

    In fact, I was reading Jane Leavy’s The Last Boy when The Bill James Handbook 2011 arrived – and Leavy’s book, so far, is excellent! – and I stopped reading about Mantle because I can’t put The Bill James Handbook down. (I was reading When the Cheering Stops – which was good in a reminiscing way – when I got Leavy’s book. And, I stopped that one to start the Mantle story. So, actually, The Bill James Handbook 2011 has now pushed Mantle into the on-deck circle and the football Giants into the hole while it’s up at the plate.)

    This year’s edition has a new Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor and both Plus/Minus and Runs Saved fielding data for every player. Cool new stuff, indeed. And, its got all the neat data that we’ve seen in past editions like the Fielding Bible Awards, Park Indices, Pitcher/Hitter Projections, Manufactured Runs Analysis and career data for every 2010 big leaguer (including select players from Japan).

    Granted, sure, many probably are thinking now “I can get a lot of the information in an electronic format.” And, that’s true. But, as Steve Moyer writes in his introduction to The Bill James Handbook 2011, this book is something that you can add to your home bookshelf and touch and turn with your fingers.

    It’s Tangible baby, with a capital “T”! (That’s me talking, not Moyer.)

    As I mentioned last year and repeated here earlier, in a strong way, having this book is like playing a great baseball fan game. Thumb through the pages and land, at random, at a player and check his career stats. You can get lost for an hour, easy, each day, doing that.

    And, the timing of this book is perfect too. Peter Gammons calls it “The prize of our winter hibernation” and he’s spot on with that label. There’s no big league baseball being played now. This book is a safe baseball “fix.” And, it’s the Hot Stove now where players and their worth are debated. What better source to have at your finger tips at this time than The Bill James Handbook 2011?

    I highly recommend this book – for any baseball fan. If you like baseball stats, The Bill James Handbook 2011 allows you to ensconce yourself with them. It’s like a sabermetric leaf pile. Just jump in and roll around in the stuff. It’s a great way to lose yourself for a bit, have some fun, and learn some things in the process.

    ESPN 30 For 30: The House Of Steinbrenner

    Posted by on September 30th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    I finally got to see this one. I know that the early reviews on this were bad. But, I really liked it.

    I thought they did a very good job with the old interview clips of Big Stein. And, the footage of the old Stadium and its demolition were beautiful. The bits with the fans were nice as well. When that one guy, who was working on taking down the old Stadium, said that he hopes, in the future, when his kids go to the new Yankee Stadium, that when they look at the old spot, that they will think of him…well..if that doesn’t tug on your heart strings, what will?

    I also thought it was a very fair job. And, I especially liked the time given to the critics of the new Stadium and the current powers that be in the Yankees front office. Having seen it now, I totally get why the Yankees were not pleased with this film.

    Hal Steinbrenner did come across bad in it. He’s nothing like his old man and probably in over his head right now. Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal seems more like her dad and probably would have been a better choice to be in charge. In any event, while Hal was talking about the peace and solitude of flying, it was like listening to Munson back in 1979. The scary part was the picture of Munson over Hal’s right shoulder when he was being interviewed. If I’m Mama Stein, I’m telling Hal to ditch the plane and the wannabe fly-boy routine. Get a new and safer hobby.

    If you haven’t seen this one, and have been scared off by the early reviews, I suggest checking it out and giving it a try. Again, the footage of Big Stein and the old Stadium, alone, make it worth viewing, in my opinion.

    Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales From The House That Ruth Built

    Posted by on September 13th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    The other day Alex Belth mentioned that he would be sending me a review copy of “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales From The House That Ruth Built.”

    Now, to be totally candid, I’ve sorta/kinda known Alex for about six years now. He’s a super-nice guy. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone, ever, say something about him that’s less than kind. And, I consider him to be a friend. That said, as I waited for his book to arrive, I had this Rocky vs. Thunderlips, let’s move around a little bit, you chase me and I’ll chase you, preconceived notion on how this would go down. He’d send me the book, I’d check out the book, and, regardless of what I thought about it, I’d give it a mention in the blog – because friends should help friends.

    So much for the best laid preconceived notions…

    Why?

    Well, when I received “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories,” I started reading it, and, immediately, it hit me – “This is really, really, good!”

    Yeah, I knew about the project behind this – where Alex was collecting “Lasting Stadium” memories back in 2008 to share on his blog. In fact, I was one of those who contributed towards that effort. So, I should have known that it would be good – having read some of these back in 2008 on-line. Then again, maybe that was “the thing” behind my preconceived notion? Maybe I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the book because it wouldn’t be totally “new” to me? Well, whatever the reason, it was totally wrong of me to think I was going to have to plug this one out of kindness as opposed to it being warranted.

    For the book, Alex uses the “heavy hitters” among those contributions – like Bob Costas, Richard Ben Cramer, Tony Kornheiser, Tom Boswell, Dave Kindred, Leigh Montville, Joe Posnanski, Jane Leavy, Maury Allen, Bob Klapisch, Tyler Kepner, Allen Barra, Marty Appel, Alan Schwarz, Steve Rushin, Mike Vaccaro, Rob Neyer, and Ken Rosenthal – along with some sundry others (mostly Bronx Banter Blog contributors and friends of that blog) and it’s a wonderful anthology. And, this totally “works” as a book. First, it’s a neat capsule of all these stories in one binder. Secondly, the beauty of this one is that you can read it from cover to cover, or, just cherry-pick the entries as you so desire – and, it’s a great read, either way.

    Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales From The House That Ruth Built” is a literary cornucopia of the Yankee Stadium experience from every possible angle. If you’re a Yankees fan, this one will hit the sweet spot for you.

    The scheduled release date for Alex’s book is October 1, 2010. As mentioned, if you’re a Yankees fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories.” It will resonate with you. And, if you’re not a Yankees fan, but want to check out a cool book about what an old ballpark has meant to so many people, you’ll want to pick up this one too.

    Traded: Inside The Most Lopsided Trades In Baseball History

    Posted by on July 24th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Traded: Inside The Most Lopsided Trades In Baseball HistoryI just had a chance to check out Doug Decatur’s book, Traded: Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History, which was released eight months ago.

    Having read Decatur’s last book, four years ago, and finding that one to be very enjoyable, I was looking forward to reading this one. And, now done, I can say that “Traded” did not disappoint me.

    Decatur has worked as a statistical consultant for the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. And, in “Traded” he uses stats to determine the 306 most lopsided baseball trades of the twentieth century. Bascially, Decatur adds up the future Win Shares for each player after the trade for the two teams- and the net difference determines a score that allows for rankings . But, this book is more than just a ranking of trades. The author also provides a team-by-team overview of the best and worst trades in each team’s history as well as providing countless “fun” stories about the people involved in, or behind, these transactions. Also, as a bonus, Decatur shares thirteen red flags that might indicate a lopsided trade now or in the future.

    The Yankees? Well, the have the second best trade ever according to his analysis – when they swapped cash for Babe Ruth. But, they also have the third worst trade ever – when they traded Fred McGriff, Mike Morgan and Dave Collins for Dale Murray and Tom Dodd. Ouch.

    What I enjoyed most about “Traded,” aside from it being a great chronicle of some crazy baseball trades, is that it provides a ton of data and commentary, makes you think, and sparks some debate. And, what more can you want from a baseball book – especially one that focus on baseball history and statistics?

    Traded: Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History” is a fun and informative read and a worthy addition to every baseball library. In a word, this book was “stimulating.” I recommend this one to baseball fans of all levels – as there’s something in there for everyone.

    Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

    Posted by on July 16th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    I saw Bigger, Stronger, Faster* for the first time ever last night on TV. (Yeah, I know, I’m two years behind the times on this one.) It was interesting – and it does offer some food for thought on the whole PED debate. I found it both educational and entertaining. If you’ve never seen it, and have a chance to catch it, I recommend checking it out.

    Steinbrenner: The Last Lion Of Baseball

    Posted by on July 4th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Today is George Steinbrenner’s 80th birthday. So, what better time to share a review of Bill Madden’s recent book “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball“?

    My “Yankees-fandom” started during George Steinbrenner’s first year as owner of the Yankees. Therefore, I grew up following the team in the “Big Stein Era” and only know the “Steinbrenner owned” Yankees. And, since I was a kid, I’ve been reading Bill Madden’s columns – along with having read his book “Damned Yankees” back in the day. As such, I was very much looking forward to reading “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball.”

    This is not the first George Steinbrenner book that I’ve read. Years ago, I read Ed Linn’s “Steinbrenner’s Yankees.” And, recently, I read Peter Golenbock’s “George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire.” Yet, despite having read the story of “The Boss” before, I was still extremely entertained reading “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball.”

    Old Big Stein TodayIn addition, I also learned a few things for the first time reading Madden’s book – such as how Phil Rizzuto used Steinbrenner’s dislike of him as a way of getting out of making west coast road trips and how Randy Levine gained his favor with the Yankees family. I was also shocked to learn how much (then commissioner) Fay Vincent abused his power and railroaded Steinbrenner out of baseball during the whole Howie Spira incident.

    One thing that resonated with me while reading the book is that many have a beef with Steinbrenner because they believe that George, in his salad days, was narcissistic, illogical, pompous, impetuous, delusional and pathological. And, that made life terrible for all those who worked for him.

    Now, I cannot dispute this – especially after reading Madden’s account (in the book) of how “The Boss” conducted his business.

    However, I’ve been working full-time for 26 years now – since graduating college. And, in my estimation, during this time, I’ve had at least 15 different “bosses” – some of whom were (in my opinion) also “narcissistic, illogical, pompous, impetuous, delusional and pathological” and terrible to work under. (Not all were this way, I want to stress. And, many were excellent leaders and a pleasure to follow. But, there were at least four of them that…well…put it this way…if I saw them, today, on the side of the road in the pouring rain with a flat tire, I would not stop to help them…that’s for sure.)

    The point here is that, yup, George Steinbrenner was an “ogre” to work for – to many. But, is he alone in this department? In everyday life, many of us have worked for such a person or know someone else who has worked for a “terrible boss.” Look around…”these people” are out there – all around us – and it’s just not George Steinbrenner. In fact, you – the person reading this – may just be, or someday will become, that “terrible boss.” Or, maybe someone close to you is a “Big Stein” in their professional life. Hey, it’s possible. Again, any sundry leader in any particular industry being a tyrant is not a singularity.

    In summary, George Steinbrenner is not the first, last, or only maniacal person to run something. He’s just one that millions know about because of his elevated profile and the amount of media following his organization. Related, I have to question why some parties want to skewer Steinbrenner for his business tactics when he’s just one of many who use the same approach? Don’t get be wrong – I am not advocating this particular modus operandi…at all. And, I’m not condoning Steinbrenner’s behavior because he’s not the only “boss” to act questionably.

    I’m just wondering why so many have a strong distain for Steinbrenner because he was this way – since he’s not unique in terms of being an abrasive leader. I mean…really…it is that shocking to see a person in charge of something to be an agitating and demanding bully who is willing to trade moral soundness in exchange for getting what they want? When I read the stories of how George Steinbrenner behaved as owner of the Yankees, I’m not shocked. Anyone who has been in the “business world” has probably encountered demanding individuals whose primary focus was on something other than having scruples.

    Therefore, what’s the big deal about George Steinbrenner being a despot? It’s sort of like getting yourself in a lather because you just found out that your favorite restaurant is overcharging for drinks and desserts. Hey, it’s just the way the world we live in works…it is what it is…and all that.

    Yet, this all said, do not lose sight of the fact that Big Stein is one of the all-time kings when it comes to being charitable. This does lend towards the notion that he’s not 100% all bad. (And, his “sports franchise owner” success record speaks for it self.)

    In any event, getting back to “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball,” I found Madden’s book to be one of the best chronicles of the Yankees, under the Steinbrenner family, ever written. It’s a super read and highly recommended. Actually, it’s a “must read” for all Yankees fans.

    If you are a Yankees diehard, and haven’t picked up “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball” yet, I suggest that you don’t wait any longer to check it out. It’s truly one of the most well-done and interesting Yankees-related books that I’ve ever read.

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