Category: Data

New Season-New Reason!!!


Opening Day 2015.  The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived.  The countdowns are over, the grass is manicured and rosters are set. Some dreams have been realized, while others have been shattered.  Throughout all of the waiting and activity, one thing is crystal clear, baseball is back!!!!!

Each new season brings with it possibilities of greatness, with each day of the season giving new entries to the history books.  As fans you never know what is going to happen, but you always will have the chance of witnessing something special.  Being a fan is the easy part, but what about the people who have to assemble these teams.  Like the game itself that process has to adapt to changes.  Some methods are tried and true, while others are gaining credibility as time goes on.  Many methods are out there, and each has their merits, so it is up to each individual to decide which works the best for their needs.  Maybe for some, these books will help.

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By:Bill James-2014 Acta Sports

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By:Dave Heeren & Palmer -2011 St Johann Press

I have talked on here before of the merits of the new ways of judging baseball talent.  These books are just two more versions of the new way of thinking within sports.  Quite honestly this is probably not Bill James greatest book, but it does give some insight into how the game is analyzed.  He rambles into subjects other than sports.  For hardcore baseball fans that might be a turn off, but if you are a Bill James fan you may be willing to overlook that.

Basic Ball takes its own unique approach to three major sports, baseball football and basketball.  It offers new techniques for analyzing players and gives new formulas for evaluating talent.  For fans of all three sports it gives a new look on the old games.  It is sometimes refreshing to get a new look at the same thing you have been looking at for years.  In this instance you can teach an old dog new tricks.

With the new baseball season upon us, fans can take a new approach to watching their old game, and these books will surely help.

You can get these books from the nice folks at Acta Sports and St Johann Press

http://www.actasports.com

http://www.stjohannpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

Throwback-A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played


The baseball book market has offered readers tens of thousands of options.  No matter what you prefer, history, biography, or fiction there is a book out there for everyone.  The down side to all those options is you can also find books that are pointless. Something that was published to capitalize on someones current popularity, targeting an audience of fair-weather fans who know about the subject because it’s a hot topic.  You can also find books that are published just because they played the game.  No real increase in the knowledge beyond the average fan, but still published because they have a marketable name.  Today’s book falls in to that category of I am a baseball player so I am smarter than everyone else.

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By:Jason Kendall-St. Martins Press 2014

I went into this book thinking I was going to get some baseball insight along with a mix of autobiography.  What I got was a book that told me how smart Jason Kendall is.  It was basically his version of what happens at each position during a game and why these things happen.   The information that Kendall gives the reader is basic strategy that the average fan to some degree already knows.

The writing style feels like Kendall is talking down to you.  It gives the feeling that he thinks he is some sort of baseball savant and enlightening the world with his knowledge.  From a personal level you get nothing substantial about him.  You learn he hates autograph seekers, but in the end really nothing in detail.

I was pretty disappointed with this book.  I had hoped for more, but there was nothing that required the reader to stop and think about.  It was one players interpretation of basic baseball.  For Jason Kendall, I guess he takes personal information seriously, and as such he keeps his story private.

You can make your own determination, but I think this book may be one fans should pass on.  There are many other options from St Martins Press worth spending your money on.  But readers should make the call.

You can check this one and a bunch of good titles at http://www.stmartins.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Dodgers Encyclopedia – Another team history well represented


I just recently did the Orioles Encyclopedia on this blog.  So there is really no need to hash through all the details of what these team encyclopedias are about.  I really just wanted everyone to see that there are options out there for their favorite teams and that there may be some difference in format from team to team.

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The Dodgers Encyclopedia

By:William McNeil- 2012 Sports Publishing

This encyclopedia is very impressive and Dodgers fans should take note.  It covers the full history of Dodgers baseball and covers both the L.A. and Brooklyn versions of the team.  It even goes as far back to tracing the teams roots before they were formally known as the Dodgers, but still existed in Brooklyn.  You are getting over 150 years of history in one package.

This book sticks to the standard format of team encyclopedias.  It covers players, managers, executives, rosters, broadcasters, regular season, postseason and of course special moments in team history.  It covers some of the most important moments in the teams history and accompanies it with some great pictures.  If this is one of your favorite teams it is worth picking up because the information contained in here is invaluable.

As I said before, the only down side with these type of books is they become obsolete very quickly.  When rosters turn over each year and new players come into the fold, you don’t have all the information on the team.  Hopefully new editions come out every few years, so it is not long that the fan is out of date.  I have several editions of various teams in my library and they are very helpful.  Me recommendation is everyone should get at least one edition for their own bookcase.

You can get this book for the nice folks at Sports Publishing

http://www.sportspubbooks.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

The Orioles Encyclopedia – A Half Century of History and Highlights


Knowledge is power.  Baseball history affords us the opportunity to gain greats amount of knowledge.  If you appreciate the game as an entire institution or just an individual team holds your attention, the information available is endless.  Todays book allows fans the ability to learn in-depth about their favorite team.

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The Orioles Encyclopedia 

By:Mike Gesker – 2009 The Johns Hopkins University Press

Fans of the Baltimore Orioles have a very valuable tool at their disposal.  Whatever morsel of knowledge they want to acquire is now contained in one neat little package.  From their roots deep in the transplanted St. Louis Browns, starting play in 1954 as the Baltimore Orioles through the date of the book’s publication, you get it all. Fifty plus years of information rolled in to one neat little 862 page package.

Readers get several interesting aspects of the teams history.  The book is split into various sections. Seasons, all-time rosters, coaches, managers, ballparks, post season berths, award winners and broadcasters are all covered in here.  One of the more interesting sections I found was first round draft choices.  You get to see the successes and busts that have come through Baltimore’s farm system.  Off the field is fun is not forgotten in this book either.  You get some behind the scenes glimpses of what antics went on in the Baltimore locker rooms as well.  This book is invaluable to Orioles fans that want to complete their team knowledge.

There have been several of types of these team encyclopedias published through the years for various teams.  I think they are a very important piece in a fans personal library.  You get the ability to sit down and browse through the book and relive some great memories of your favorite team.  I know by reading through this I came across some players I didn’t even know played for the O’s.  The only down side to these types of books is that they need to be updated every few years with new editions.  Orioles fans, this should be on your must buy list because it will really be enjoyable to have the information at your finger tips and the ability to re-live some old memories.

You can get this book from the nice folks at The Johns Hopkins University Press

http://www.press.jhu.edu

Happy reading

Gregg

 

 

 

The New Ballgame – Understanding Baseball Stats for the Casual Fan


It’s World Series time.  What better time then now for the people who have no idea about balls and strikes to become die-hard baseball fans.  If you didn’t notice the sarcasm in that last sentence, let me point it out to you.  Visit any local watering hole and you will find lots of eyes fixated on the TV screens plastered on the walls.  Now don’t get me wrong there are true fans out there watching for the great love of the game.  Then there are those other people who have no idea what is going on, and only care because it’s the World Series and think they probably should have an interest.  Today’s book gives those later folks a chance to actually learn about what they are hearing on the TV.

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The New Ballgame-Understanding Baseball Statistics for the Casual Fan

By:Glenn Guzzo-2007 Acta Sports

As long time baseball fans, we sometimes take things for granted.  We forget that at one time in our lives we were rookies in our knowledge base.  We did not have the knowledge of the history of the game, the intricacies of certain plays or even the general knowledge of how to read a box score.  We all have to start somewhere and this book does that for those fans that need help.

The author starts out simple and reviews basic everyday stats that give the uninformed fan a starting point to build their knowledge.  Then you get a historical breakdown of how the stats have been used in baseball and how they play into the overall business of baseball.  Moving on you learn how to score a game and read a box score.  Throughout the game’s history reading a box score has been paramount in bringing the final result of the game to the masses.

The next few chapters show how the game is moving into the future.  Guzzo discusses the real life application of the stats as they are discussed on television.  Also talked about is how fantasy baseball has become a success in our world, and how it plays a part of being a good fan.  Finally the book finishes up with the future of statistics in baseball.

For the casual fan who needs some background and knowledge this is a good, informative and quick read.  It will give them the basic platform on to which they can build a better understanding of the game and possibly the desire to learn even more.  Hardcore fans with a strong knowledge base may find some of the information repetitive.

While reading this, I used my own Wife as the basis of application of this book.  Her knowledge base is  higher than that of a novice fan, but still not at the level of a baseball lifer.  I find that when she asks a question about a statistic, I sometimes have trouble explaining thoroughly and clearly what the situation is.  I feel the reason is that I have known about the subject for so long, it is now something I just…..understand.  I can’t necessarily explain it, but I know how it works.  This book would do a great job of filling in the pieces I have trouble explaining to her, in a way she would easily understand.

You can get this book from the friendly folks at Acta Sports

http://www.actasports.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Book, Playing the Percentages in Baseball


I have always thought a hobby was supposed to be fun.  It was supposed to be something to pass your time and make you forget the everyday grind.  Not something that necessarily made you think, but perhaps something mindless.  With all that in mind statistical analysis was never something I thought would fit into the category of a hobby, until now……..

THE BOOK

The Book-Playing the Percentages in Baseball

By:Tom Tango, Mitchell Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin -2007

Potomac Books

 

Books like this I have never really given a chance.  I always thought they were strictly the authors interpretation on any given situation, backed by their own derived numbers.  Being that the main purpose of this blog was to explore new avenues of reading and share my thoughts with you, I figured I would give this one a shot.

What I found was a book of incredible analysis.  The authors analyze every conceivable scenario within the game and give you every possible outcome.  It uses numbers and graphs to show what the best and most probable  outcome may be in any given situation.  If you are not a numbers person some of this book may be over your head, but with a little understanding of their methods you can gain a lot of knowledge.

Honestly on a book like this, I found some of the explanations dry.  I do not think it had anything to do with the authors writing style.  I feel it all has to do with the nature of what you are reading about.  Honestly there are only so many ways to make statistical analysis interesting, even to the most hard-core fan.

In the new era of Sabermetrics a book like this is important.  It gives the casual reader a chance to see how numbers are effecting the thought processes on the field.  It also gives fans who sit on their couches an opportunity to second guess the strategies playing out in front of them on the TV.  The Book also has some sort of validity to the lower leagues and teachers of the next generation of ball players.  Those coaches can generate a stronger knowledge of the game and the moves they can make to better prepare their players for the future.

I struggled with this book a bit, mostly because of my personal dislike of statistical analysis.  As stated above this book is a quality tool that could help people both in the game, and watching it from home.  So I would recommend it for anyone who has an interest in this topic.

You can get this book from the friendly folks at Potomac Books

https://potomac.presswarehouse.com/Books/Features.aspx

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Everyone needs a hobby I guess ????


I always say everyone needs a hobby.  Whether it is to relax in your free time, to add fulfillment to your life or just something to do until you find something better to do.  Baseball falls into the category of hobby in most of our lives.  Mostly because there are very few of us that can ever make any real money from what we do with it.  You can watch baseball, collect cards, collect autographs, write about it or make road trips with your friends to visit historical  stadiums.  There are countless other things that you can do with baseball that would be considered a hobby including today’s book…..

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Baseball Burial Sites

By:Bob Bailey 2004-St Johann Press

Yes, you can visit burial sites.  I also think this is considered a hobby to many.  Now regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, this is a viable hobby to many folks.  I myself never understood the interest of visiting the grave site of a baseball personality.  Perhaps it is to pay respects or something of the sort but I still don’t really get it.  But to each their own because as the title says, everyone needs a hobby, and this is still better than collecting lint.

 

Bob Bailey has done a very nice job of organizing an “interesting” subject.  The book is broken down into several different sections depending on specialty.  All field personnel including umpires are included in the book.  As well as owners, broadcasters, writers and other lesser known personalities.  For each section it gives an alphabetical listing along with date of death, cemetery name and location.  I see this as a somewhat herculean task to try to find these sites to write a book.  I know from my own work trying to find a former player it can sometimes be a tall task, and that’s for the living people.

 

The final section of the book satisfies even the most casual of the burial site seeker.  It is an alphabetical state listing that then breaks it into individual counties.  Under the county section it then gives you the cemetery name and which players are buried there.  For me, I now know that Smokey Joe Wood is buried down the road from me.  Until I looked at this book I never knew that.  Which in turn I found odd because the town I live in (Shohola, Pa.), he is their only claim to fame and they mention him whenever possible.

 

In no way am I  intending to look down on anyone that enjoys this.  If this is how you enjoy the hobby then so be it.  To each their own.  I just don’t get it.  But to someone out there who enjoys this, Baseball Burial Sites is a great book for you.  The author put a lot of work in to and provides you with great information.  It’s basically a map to the burial plots.  Its well-organized and detailed so even the novice plot chaser should be able to locate who they are looking for.

You can pick up this book from the nice folks at St Johann Press.  www.stjohannpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

1970’s Baseball – A Review of the Decade’s Best Season, Teams and Players


I have noticed in recent months in looking for books for my blog that the 1970’s have become a very popular subject.  There were so many monumental changes to the game of baseball that are rooted in this decade.  Free agency, escalating salaries, new modern ash tray stadiums with Astroturf and the resurgence of the New York Yankees immediately come to mind.  In that respect, it does seem fitting with the passage of time that we now analyze and celebrate that decade.

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1970’s Baseball-A History of the Decades Best Seasons, Teams and Players

By:Joe Gersbeck 2014

These type of books that do yearly overviews and statistical analysis do not always interest me.  When I find several different books on the same decade, I have noticed that the reader gets the same recycled information with the authors own slant on the topic.  I think sometimes you have the same issue with team dedicated books.  I am starting to see the same problem with the Red Sox and breaking the curse of Ruth.  But this book surprised me…..and in a good way.

Joe Gersbeck did a nice job of analyzing the seasons in a way that kept it interesting and informative.  It was not just a season overview but you felt like you were back in time re-living it.  Next, it moves on to rankings by position.  Again, it was a very detailed analysis that shows a lot of thought put in to the ranking process.  He also throws in some non-traditional positions such as Clutch-Players which becomes subjective but still very well done and thought out.

The next section reviews each teams overall record for the entire decade.  It also analyzes the team statistical leaders on both the offense and defensive side of the ball.  Diffused in between teams is the star players of the decade.  It is a nice overview of their accomplishments during the decade and their value to their teams.

Finally, the book wrapped up reviewing the All-Star Games of the 70’s as well as the top ten moments of the 70’s.  They were again very thorough and well thought out for the book.  I thought it was a little odd that there was no World Series section.  There was obviously some dominance by certain teams in the 70’s but for the complete package it should have been in there, in my opinion.  Lastly, there is a very detailed appendix included in this book that covers all the normal statistics of the decade.

As you can tell I enjoyed this book.  A well thought out book with significant detail becomes timeless.  I have said in the past that I much prefer a hard copy book over an electronic version.  As far as I can tell this one is only available in E-form.  If I am wrong please someone let me know and I will update this.  I just think this would be a great reference book to have on the shelf for myself.  I do believe you can download it from Amazon.com, or get direct from the author as well at http://www.1970sbaseball.com.

Nice Job Joe!

10/1/14 UPDATE:  Author now has printed copies available for sale.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Red Sox Nation – Rejoice!


I, first off, must apologize as my review is a day late because quite frankly…… I needed to cut my grass.   It was not even remotely fun but needed to get done nonetheless.  So without further ado let get to todays book.

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Red Sox Review – 110 Years of Boston Red Sox Photos

By Mark Stang – 2011 – 224 Pages

St Johann Press

I have never really been a big fan of the coffee table book sector.  Most of the time I felt they were fluff pieces that rehashed the same old photos with the same old captions we have seen 100 times.  In that market, I have come across the same exact book with a different dust jacket and a new copyright date.  So that really soured me on giving these types of books much of a chance.  That is until now!

The Author of Red Sox Review has actually taken some time to thoughtfully outline the different subject matters.  They have gone through the photographic history of the Sox over the last 110 years and found some people who are not necessarily mainstream.  They have taken the time to pay homage to the personalities that have added substance to that storied franchise.  It is by far not a fluff piece that talks about Ted Williams and Yaz for 80% of the book, then sprinkles everyone else in for good measure.  It actually gives people like Bucky Walters, Smokey Joe Wood (who is from Shohola Pennsylvania, where I live, by the way!) and Pinky Higgins their due.

The format of the book that I find unique is almost every single person gets their own page.  It is not like some books where they are going to fit six guys on a page, come hell or high water.   In most cases it devotes a full page to the player and gives a thorough account of his time in Boston.  It shows some great quality images of some turn of the 20th century players.   Then the book works its way through today devoting the same space to those current day players.  Another really cool aspect of the book is some of the photos they used are ones I have rarely, if ever, seen.  How many of us have ever seen Rollie Fingers in a Red Sox uniform?  After that botched trade with Charlie Finley’s Athletics, I bet not many.   It’s in the book!

I don’t claim to be any sort of Red Sox expert but it really was interesting to see how many star-caliber and even Hall of Fame players have made their way through Boston.  They are rich in history and this book takes a good and thorough look at what has transpired in Boston in terms of personnel.  Not only does it cover players, it covers Managers, General Managers, Owners and Broadcast Personalities as well.  It truly is all-encompassing of the teams history.

If you have any interest in the Red Sox or even baseball history in general this would be a good book for you to pick up.  Die Hard Bo-Sox fans may not learn much new, but they will probably see some never before seen photos.  This book actually made me change my perception of what a coffee-table book can be.  It will make me think twice before I say no to looking at one in the future.  It seems, after all, that sometimes an old dog can learn new tricks!

 

This book published by St Johann Press.

http://www.stjohannpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Recognition for the General’s and Their Crews……Finally!!!


Well…… better late than never I always say!  Sometimes through the course of times and seasons things get forgotten.  People, stories, information and rosters.  And while it may not always be intentional, it still happens.  Even the most hardcore fan, if you ask them who was the bullpen coach of their favorite team in 1977, might have trouble answering that.  Well behold today’s book solves that little dilemma and brings us the information we have been missing.   

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Baseball Skippers and Their Crews-The History of Every Manager and Coach 1871-2014

By Thomas W. Bracato (St Johann Press)

My first impression of this book was..WOW….what a great source of data this is.  It lists every Major League Manager, teams managed, years managed and career record.  It also gives a brief synopsis of their career touching on managerial feats as well as any playing feats if applicable.  In this digital age it is nice to have a resource like this at your finger tips.

Now the part I find really great.  It chronicles all the coaching staffs from 1871-2014 as well.  It has all the data for the coaches but without career records of course.  Where else are you going to find coaching information on the obscure and forgotten souls such as Alex Monchak, Billy Muffett and Brian Poldberg.  Its nice to be able to look in to one source and find information at your finger tips.  We are talking over 2300 people!

This is the type of book that I think has gotten forgotten in the internet age.  It reaches back to the day when the Baseball Encyclopedia was published each year and kept getting thicker and thicker and was your only source of information for stats and data.  Their truly should be a place in each fans collection for books like these.  I can see myself referring to it countless times just to verify information and to use as a learning tool.  Stats and Data Geeks rejoice, this is a book for you!

As caretakers of the history of our beloved game we each should take the time to find a copy of this book and learn from it.  It has some great information included within and I believe we all in the end could learn from it. I really don’t think you can do wrong by adding this book to your collection.

The Book is available from the nice folks at St Johann Press so give their site a look see and see what other Baseball offerings they have as well.

http://www.stjohannpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg