It’s been a while but here are some baseball books that I recommend.
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Intangiball: The Subtle Things That Win Baseball Games is written by Lonnie Wheeler. Wheeler looks at more than just the statistics that factor in to the sabermetrics that are so frequently discussed. Wheeler takes things further by looking at qualities such as grit, hustle, chemistry, and character. Without these, it’s hard to win ballgames. We all saw what happened to the 2011 Boston Red Sox team that fell apart during the final month of the season.
Due to the statistical explosion of late, the Performance Enhancing Qualities (PEQs) seem to be overlooked by fans and writers alike, especially the fans. Wheeler writes this book by drawing upon his own observations as a former newspaper columnist but also with the aid of players, managers, and baseball executives.
This is not a book that is meant to debunk Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Rather, it aims to put in what he left out. Given his Ohio connection, Wheeler focuses in on the Cincinnati Reds after Ken Griffey, Jr. and Adam Dunn departed. This is where Wheeler introduces a concept that he has coined as “teamship.” Teamship can be found in an organization such as the St. Louis Cardinals. This team-first philosophy is one that can be traced back to Hall of Fame executive Branch Rickey to present day managers such as Joe Maddon and former ballplayers like Scott Rolen and Derek Jeter.
As some can say, there’s more to baseball than just the stats and that’s exactly what Wheeler seeks to prove. It’s a must-read book for baseball fans.
While Travis Sawchik’s Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak focuses on the Pittsburgh Pirates, it’s more than just that. Sawchik shows how a new generation are taking the game. He shows how the Pirates adopted big-data strategies in order to change their misfortunes and turn things around. It’s both exciting and enlightening.
Sawchik takes readers behind the scenes as he weaves together their stories. Call it Moneyball for a new generation. It’s an underdog story–which is why so many non-Cardinals fans were rooting against the Cardinals during the 2013 postseason.
James R. Walker gives us Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio. He takes us on a ride from the 1920s all the way to today. It wasn’t until the regional television contract deals were established that fans were allowed to watch ballgames on television outside of the National Game of the Week and the postseason. Before that, radio was the only way to find out how your team was doing.
Walker looks at how baseball played a role in the development of the radio industry and the co-evolution of their relationship.