Thursday, February 10, 2011

Great Books For The Baseball Fan

So I know I said there would be a post up between now and Sunday on a counting statistic that just doesn't cut it, and that post is still in the works. For now though, during one study break, I thought it would be fun to give you some insight on good reading material.

Over the last few months I got back into reading for fun, a nice break from these text books. Over this time I got completely hooked on baseball books, and I read four. Might as well share these books with you guys maybe you'll like what you hear and go read them yourselves!

Maybe one of the best sports books
ever written.

I'm going to start with a book I'm sure many of you have heard of, Jim Bouton's Ball Four. A few months ago I posted on another blog called Lookout Landing asking the other readers for ideas on baseball books I could read and Ball Four was by far the most recommended one of the lot. I decided to give it a shot and bought my copy the first day of my Christmas break. I couldn't read it fast enough.

Ball Four is written as a daily diary of Bouton's 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros.

I couldn't believe how well written, hilarious, and eye opening this book was. I had read books before that offered some juicy insights as to what goes on in major league and minor league clubs, but this is the book that started the whole trend. Before Ball Four MLB was seen as a league composed of God-like people, who could do no wrong. Oh boy was the public wrong on that one. The biggest thing that Ball Four pushes for is that these players are just like anyone else you know, they are everyday people, who get to play a game for a living.

If you call yourself a baseball fan then Ball Four is absolutely a MUST READ. Also, just in case you enjoy hating the Yankees as much as I do, this book does nothing but give you plenty of more reasons to fuel your hatred. Screw the Yankees.

Dear Fresno State: Here comes WSU.

Right before I got to Ball Four I was fully addicted to this brilliant little book here: Ryan McGee's The Road to Omaha.

The Road to Omaha is essentially two books for the price of one. While it tells incredibly insightful tales of players and teams in the 2008 CWS it also follows the story of what I consider to be the greatest underdog story in college sports history: The underdog to wonderdog 2008 CWS Champions, Fresno State.

Now I must admit, I am a little biased on this claim. My dad went to Fresno State and groomed me to be somewhat of a Bulldogs fan for a good amount of my life, so naturally I still hold a little bit of love in my heart for Fresno State. But people have to admit, it's quite the incredible story, this team was a #4 regional seed, the LOWEST POSSIBLE seeding for a tournament team, and they won it all. That is the equivalent of a #16 team in March Madness winning everything.

I have to say that this book was actually one of the more touching I read, some of the stories tucked away in it's pages chocked me up a little bit, and it takes a lot, like Toy Story 3 a lot, to do that to me.

So if you're a fan of college baseball you'll absolutely love this book. If you're just a fan of baseball, hey maybe it'll give you a new appreciation for this level of the sport.

No, it's not a religious book, chill.
The book that started my baseball book craze was Dirk Hayhurst's The Bullpen Gospels. Actually to be totally honest I started a different book first, but it got incredibly dry and I moved on to this gem.

After I got done I passed this off to my dad for him to read and he enjoyed it just as much as me, if not more so.

Going along the same lines as Ball Four, The Bullpen Gospels is the memoirs of mostly career minor leaguer Dirk Hayhurst. But it's also much more than simply a minor league remake of Ball Four, it is also a life story of a man that has been through a lot, and uses baseball as somewhat of an escape from everything.

Naturally he is having a hard time clinging to his escape of baseball as a minor leaguer, and struggles throughout the book with whether or not to move on.

Some of the stories he tells are hilarious, and some of the stories he tells are deeply personal and touching.

Not much needs to be said here.

I talked about the book that started my reading craze, I might as well talk about the book that changed how I look at baseball while I'm at it too.

Now it wasn't all this book that changed my views on baseball, I need to also give a large amount of credit to he incredible authors and readers over at Lookout Landing too.

Michael Lewis's Moneyball is the story behind the Oakland A's strange run of success despite being one of the tightest budgeted teams in MLB. Billy Beane, the GM of the A's, and his radical outlook on the sport and how to evaluate its players was what helped the A's do more (much more) with less (much less).

Now if you're looking for a story, this may not necessarily be the book for you as its story is somewhat choppy and hard to stick with. But if you do decide to stick with it you will be rewarded with some valuable information. What I found most interesting was the formation and development of the sabermetric movement, largely credited to a man named Bill James. Since I knew most of the statistics presented in the book and how they are used, that was of little use to me, but if you're looking for some of this explained in simple terms, no better place to turn than Moneyball.

No comments:

Post a Comment