Friday, March 20, 2015

Baseball Best-Sellers, March 20, 2015

Note: Just like Chuck Lorre’s “vanity cards” at the end of The Big Bang Theory, you should read these list stories to their conclusion; the end is always changing, even though the theme is basically the same, finishing up with a self-promotional message.


So without further ado, here are the top ten baseball books as per Amazon.com, as of this posting.


Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.


Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.


Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.


  1. 100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball, by Douglas Lyons (Bookshelf review here)

  2. Baseball Prospectus 2015

  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis

  4. Baseball America 2015 Prospect Handbook: The 2015 Expert guide to Baseball Prospects and MLB Organization Rankings

  5. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

  6. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman

  7. The Baseball Drill Book (The Drill Book Series), American Baseball Coaches Association

  8. 2015 Baseball Forecaster: An Encyclopedia of Fanalytics, by Ron Shandler

  9. Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter (Bookshelf review here).

  10. Coaching Youth Baseball the Ripken Way, by Cal Ripken Jr.

Still surprised how well Who’s Who is doing. I keep waiting for people to catch on, but perhaps the basic wrap-up for each season is sufficient for most readers.


Again the selections are heavy on the coaching aspects again as schools and youth teams gear up for real. Hope the weather is better where they are than where I am.


I also feel like saying that Ball Four is frequently in the top 10 overall, but as an e-book. Unlike Moneyball, which is still widely available in print form,  I guess the same is not the case for Bouton’s classic.


Here’s the latest monthly (March) New York Times sports best-seller list (10 plus 10 more). Jeter Unfiltered drops to nine with no other baseball titles in the top 20.


Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right?


If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.



Baseball Best-Sellers, March 20, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Bookshelf Conversation: Walter Friedman

There are a handful of publishing houses that are known for their baseball titles. A few that come to mind immediately are Triumph, University of Nebraska Press, and McFarland. But none of these are exclusively engaged in baseball.


https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-frc3/v/t1.0-1/c17.0.160.160/p160x160/1383857_605810916133617_1369569183_n.jpg?oh=8fc188ab5c8dce50d1f8af4065df8354&oe=55759BC5&__gda__=1435092310_bebc4f530190c6d44e9662eccc0e6b44Summer Game Books, a New Jersey enterprise founded by Walter Friedman, is such an outfit. In addition to bringing back some old favorites from established writers such as Peter Golenbock, Charles Alexander, and Neal Karlen, Summer Game Books gives a voice to new authors like 16-year-old Matt Nadel, who recently released his baseball history written for his contemporaries in an attempt to reinvigorate the game for young fans.


I spoke with Freidman recently about the challenges of starting up such a project.



The Bookshelf Conversation: Walter Friedman

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bits and pieces, March 16

bbiconCurt Smith, author of several fine volumes about baseball broadcasters and broadcasting, offers this nostalgic essay on “Spring training: Baseball’s Brigadoon” in the Irondequoit Post.


bbiconPublishers Weekly published their annual list of new baseball topics. Unfortunately, it’s only available to subscribers. I’ll see if I can find an end-around at some point. “Spring inevitably means a new roster of baseball books, but there are also a few curveballs this season,” they tease. Wonder what the heck that means. Usually when you say something is a curveball it’s not meant in a pleasant connotation.


bbiconhttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nSPnseTEL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFrom CapitalkCity.com, this piece on Steve Kettmann’s new title about NY Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson. I received a copy but haven’t gotten to it yet, but on first impression, the title — Baseball Maverick — seems erroneous. When I think of a “maverick,” it’s usually someone like Bill Veeck (or even his son, Mike), someone who’s an innovator. All due respect, the Mets have followed a pretty conservative path during Alderson’s tenure. A portion of that has to do with their part in the Bernie Madoff fiasco, but when life gives you lemons, what do you do? You don’t hold onto them, you use them. Great, now I’m thirsty.


On second thought, I’m reconsidering my first impression. Alderson has done good work prior to joining the Mets and they have put together an interesting farm system that has produced some talent that has the potential to produce over the next few years. It’s that hesitation I have that may temper my enthusiasm until the actually win more than 50 percent of their games.


bbiconHere’s a glowing review of Carl Johnson’s new title, From Beers to Beards in the Sanford News. Upshot: “It’s a book that is nearly impossible to put down and is one of the best baseball books I’ve ever read.” And a positive, though more sedate one, from Gapersblock.com on Joe Black: More than a Dodger.


bbiconhttp://a.espncdn.com/charts/2015/0308/SIG_whoswho.pngWhile this doesn’t really address Doug Lyon’s 100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball, ESPN’s Mark Simon does celebrate the publication’s 100th anniversary. (I still don’t understand why baseball-reference — or any other on-line provider — doesn’t or can’t include historical injury information. I would find it fascinating to see who missed how much time for what reason. Just sayin’.)


bbiconI‘ve kept loose journals  about my work on 501 as well as a more thorough one for my forthcoming history of the Maccabiah Games, but nothing like this simple step-by-step piece by John Sickels for his 2015 Baseball Prospect Book. This was posted March 8, so I’m not sure where things stand as of this posting.


bbiconAs you know, I’m not much on baseball fiction, but i am a big fan of the work of Troy Soos, author of the Mickey Rawlings series, the latest of which is The Tomb That Ruth Built. If you like historical fiction and old-tyme baseball, this is a no-brainer. Here’s a nice profile on the author from the Osceola News-Gazette.


bbiconAuthor events: Rob Goldman and John Klima will talk about their baseball books from 8 to 9 p.m. on Monday, March 30, at the Grant Brimhall Library, 1401 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. Goldman’s latest is a biography ab out Nolan Ryan; Klima’s The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray and the Great Days of Baseball on the Homefront in WWII releases in May.



Bits and pieces, March 16

Friday, March 13, 2015

Baseball Best-Sellers, March 13, 2015

Note: Just like Chuck Lorre’s “vanity cards” at the end of The Big Bang Theory, you should read these list stories to their conclusion; the end is always changing, even though the theme is basically the same, finishing up with a self-promotional message.


So without further ado, here are the top ten baseball books as per Amazon.com, as of this posting.


Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.


Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.


Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.


  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YfWizvLcL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBaseball Prospectus 2015

  2. Baseball America 2015 Prospect Handbook: The 2015 Expert Guide to Baseball Prospects and MLB Organization Rankings

  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis

  4. Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter (Bookshelf review here).

  5. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

  6. 2015 Baseball Forecaster: An Encyclopedia of Fanalytics, by Ron Shandler

  7. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman

  8. Heads-Up Baseball : Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time, by Tom Hanson and Ken Ravizza

  9. 2015 Minor League Baseball Analyst, by Rob Gordon

  10. The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, by Joseph Werner

Note: One book that appeared in the top 10 has been omitted because if there’s any baseball to it, it appears to be strictly tangential. Looks like it’s time to get serious about your (or your kids’) baseball career and/or fantasy team with almost all of the titles focusing on playing the game on the field and assessing the talent that’s out there. New to this is is Werner’s Digest Handbook. 


Here’s the latest monthly (February) New York Times sports best-seller list (10 plus 10 more). Jeter Unfiltered remains in the eighth spot. Glory Days in Tribe Town, which follows the fates of the Cleveland Indians by Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton, is lucky 13 and the only other baseball title in the lineup. Look for more baseball titles to populate the list in the next monthly revision.


Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right?


If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.



Baseball Best-Sellers, March 13, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Baseball Best-Sellers, March 6, 2015

Note: Just like Chuck Lorre’s “vanity cards” at the end of The Big Bang Theory, you should read these list stories to their conclusion; the end is always changing, even though the theme is basically the same, finishing up with a self-promotional message.


So without further ado, here are the top ten baseball books as per Amazon.com, as of this posting.


Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.


Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.


Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wTXujtHdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


  1. Baseball Prospectus 2015

  2. Baseball America 2015 Prospect Handbook: The 2015 Expert Guide to Baseball Prospects and MLB Organization Rankings

  3. 2015 Baseball Forecaster: An Encyclopedia of Fanalytics, by Ron Shandler

  4. Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter (Bookshelf review here).

  5. Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos, by Jonah Keri

  6. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis

  7. Fantasy Baseball for Smart People: How to Profit Big During MLB Season, by Jonathan Bales

  8. The Bill James Handbook 2015

  9. 100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball, by Douglas B. Lyons

  10. Tommy Lasorda: My Way, Colin Gunderson

And not



Maybe Bryce Harper’s comments has created some renewed interest in the Washington Nationals’ ancestors.


Here’s the latest monthly (February) New York Times sports best-seller list (10 plus 10 more). Jeter Unfiltered remains in the eighth spot. Glory Days in Tribe Town, which follows the fates of the Cleveland Indians by Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton, is lucky 13 and the only other baseball title in the lineup. Look for more baseball titles to populate the list in the next monthly revision.


Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right?


If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.



Baseball Best-Sellers, March 6, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lest we forget: Jeff McKnight

This is getting ridiculous. Jeff McKnight was a member of my Mets in the early 1990s (with time out for a season with the Orioles). He has passed away at the age of 52.


It’s getting to the point where I’m living a Pete Seeger song:



I get up each morning and dust off my wits

Open the paper and read the obits

If I’m not there, I know I’m not dead

So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.


RIP, Jeff.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Bookshelf Conversation: Ron Shandler

https://d1vxgwos21rroi.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/BF15_200w.jpgIt’s no secret that I am not a huge fan of fantasy baseball. I have enough trouble balancing my checkbook without putting together a fake team and then keeping track of the day-to-day dealings and statistical upkeep that I would surely do — at least for a couple of weeks.


But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in analytics and finding new ways to judge who’s a cut above. It’s when I start thinking about it too deeply, that‘s when the headaches set in. Why does this formula attribute a figure of .73 to triples and not .75, or .64? In other words, who makes this stuff up, and why do we just blindly accept it?


http://www.baseballhq.com/sites/default/themes/bhq/images/block-images/shandler10.jpgRon Shandler, who also runs Baseballhq.com, has been making a career out of providing data to fantasy general managers for more than a quarter century. I figured if anyone can make sense of this to me, it was probably him, so I asked him to school me on the world of baseball numbers.




The Bookshelf Conversation: Ron Shandler