In Baseball you always have to stay one step ahead of the competition. Both on the field and behind the scenes that same principle applies. You need to find the edge to beat your competitors because even if you keep the status quo, in reality you are falling behind. Sabermetrics and the Moneyball theory have turned baseball on its head and changed the way teams address their needs. So who really started that revolution and is it really a good thing after all?
Sandy Alderson is the current General Manager of the New York Mets and the man in charge of reviving that struggling franchise. While all has not been golden in the Mets re-birth, he has done a commendable job in restoring some dignity to the franchise. But is Sandy Alderson really the baseball genius everyone says he is, or is it just sometimes thinking outside the box that gets him some acclaim. That is what Baseball Maverick tries to figure out for the reader.
The book starts with Alderson’s upbringing and distinguished military career. It paints a nice picture of a man with courage and dedication. Two traits that come in very handy in the baseball world. You follow his professional career starting with the Oakland Athletics where he mentored current GM Billy Beane. It shows how Alderson got his reputation for thinking outside the box in regards to evaluating his team. Many of these ideas were born of necessity due to ownership and money constraints. It is during this stop in his career that Billy Beane gained most of the knowledge that he uses running the Oakland A’s.
The next stop for Alderson was San Diego where he again got the team back to respectability, but was unable to pull of a World Series triumph. After the Padres he put down roots with the New York Mets. Hi current home of Citi Field shows the reader in-depth how he has attempted to turn that franchise back into a winner. Attempting to overcome the Madoff scandal that has handcuffed the team financially has been an obstacle he has had to figure out how to overcome along with some bad player deals of the past. The 2015 season has brought them hopefully the start of lasting success, along with players they have developed finally reaching their expected potential.
After all this is Sandy Alderson the Baseball Maverick the book suggests he is? My thought is no. While he is a very talented General Manager, he is not the reason that Oakland has been able to compete on a shoe string budget. Billy Beane has been able to work with some of Alderson’s fundamental ideas and make them his own. That is what has made Oakland a success. Alderson may have planted the seed, but Beane made it grow. San Diego has been up and down so many times since the start of Alderson’s tenure there, that they should be a roller coaster not a baseball team. Finally the Mets were a train wreck when Alderson signed on, and it has to his own admission taken much longer for that team to make a substantial turn around than even he anticipated.
The book tries to make it seem that Alderson is responsible for the birth of Moneyball theories and I just don’t see that connection to just him. I see pieces of it in the way he has operated at certain stops, but it is a far cry from him being the one that designed it for the world to use. That being said, this is a very well written and entertaining book. It keeps the reader’s interest but it is very Mets heavy in subject matter.
Sandy Alderson is almost a mystery man in the baseball world. He has always worked behind the scenes and low-key, so this book gives you some insight on his personality. Again, I don’t agree with the Maverick term in the title, but he has made some substantial contributions to his teams and the game as a whole. Mets fans will love this book, and general baseball fans will like it. It gives us a glimpse of the man behind the curtain once and for all.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Atlantic Monthly Press
I wasn’t sure if I was going to use this book on the blog or not. I have no clue what my reader base is and didn’t want to do something inappropriate for that audience. After seeing all the articles on the internet about Umpire Dale Scott announcing his homosexuality, I figured this was a s good of a time as any to take a look at this book.
Going the Other Way
By:Billy Bean-2014 The Experiment Publishing
Being politically correct has never been one of my strengths so if I offend anyone, my apologies up front. Billy Bean was a major league player in the late 80’s to early 90’s. He bounced around to a few cities and played for a few years in the majors but was never a player who produced substantially. While we all may know of his baseball side, this book is more of a personal revelation book in the sense that he seems to come to grips with who he really is.
For those unaware Bean is gay. I am in no way judging his lifestyle on here at all. I am just stating facts and letting each reader have their own opinion whatever that may be. I am not sure I would necessarily call this a baseball book so much as possibly it is just a book about reflecting on one’s own life. Sure there are baseball stories but it is not an overwhelming theme.
Bean takes a look back at his own life and the choices he has made, his career and where is life is going. He talks about the struggles of being gay and how he came to grips with who he really was. You get amazing insight into a person’s journey through this topic and oh yeah by the way, he was a professional baseball player. Billy pulls no punches and does not try to sugarcoat any of the choices he has made, good, bad or indifferent. It is a surprisingly honest account from a professional athlete. There is nothing written in the book to try to portray Bean in a different light from what he really is. He comes across as human just like the rest of us, and you share in the journey of him finding himself. This honesty about his own being has probably led to MLB naming him the Ambassador of Inclusion in 2014.
This book was originally written 7 or 8 years ago and the new edition has some more pages. Whether you read the original printing or the new one it is a well written book and in the end you admire Bean for his forthrightness in the story. With homosexuality starting to come to the forefront in professional sports in the past few years, this is a very good book to get a glimpse at what an athlete endures to play the game. Perhaps they can get the players who are enduring this scenario to read this book and use it as some sort of guide.
If you want a strong baseball book, this may not be the best choice for you. If you are looking at an honest human interest memoir and learning about the author’s journey, who, oh yeah, happened to be a professional baseball player, then you will really enjoy this book.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The Experiment Publishing