Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book Review: Blunders Have Never Been So Fun

Been reading a terrific book that I picked up at Barnes and Noble the other day.

It's called The Big Book of Baseball Blunders, by Rob Neyer. In it, Neyer takes us through the 20th century chronologically, devoting several pages each to some of the bonehead moves, both on and off the field, in the game's history.

It's one of those books -- and I love these -- that you can open up wherever you want and start reading. It's light on pertinent photos, but that's OK, because the meat of the book is the text, the storytelling.

Neyer often uses a statistic, developed by Bill James, called Win Shares -- a pseudo-scientific method of determining how many wins a player is worth to his team. Three Win Shares is equal to one team win. He also likes to attach BA/OBP/SLG, in that order and with the slashes, to players' worth. But that's it for the number crunching, for the allure of Blunders is Neyer weaving his own opinions with historical fact, to tell us why the blunder in question is worthy of inclusion.

Some of the obvious ones are there, like Red Sox manager Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in too long in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS; Billy Martin overworking his 1980 Oakland A's starting rotation; and the Red Sox trading Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater. But there are so many that even the most fervent baseball afficionado probably isn't aware of. There are also delicious sections on managers that shouldn't have been managers; teams that missed a pennant by one game, and why; and other decisions that should never have been made.

Blunders retails for $16, and is an oversized paperback. I heartily recommend it!


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