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It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: The Baseball Prospectus Pennant Race Book Paperback – February 26, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
I did have a couple of problems with the book. First, it's edited, not written by one person, and so the writing is not always uniform--a bit like an anthology of short stories by different authors. Second, I would myself probably have picked some different races here and there. I found myself asking "What makes a pennant race exciting?" Suppose you have three very mediocre teams in a weak division--and all three finish closely
with a record of, say, about 78 wins and 84 losses. It may be close, but is it exciting? It reminds me of some Monday Night Football games between
two teams that are 4 and 10 in which there are 8 fumbles and 10 interceptions. The game may be close, but I probably wouldn't call it exciting, except in a kind of morbid way.
The 1908 National League race which featured the "Merkle boner" is of course included in the book.Read more ›
The good part first. Steve Goldman and his Baseball Prospectus colleagues examine the tightest pennant races in (US) major-league baseball history and try to help us understand why those races worked out as they did. Their studies are not only statistical, as usual for BP products, but also historical and personal, and the whole package "works" -- the reader can see not only how so many races were swung by human error (for example, inability to build a roster soundly, a persistent BP theme), but also *why* the errors came about, one of those things that a purely statistical analysis can't accomplish, and an example of how the self-styled chewing-gum-and-tobacco "analysts" underestimate the BP crowd. Some standard BP prejudices are evident, for example tendency to dismiss the running game as inconsequential (fair enough in the era of power baseball, but not so obvious in the pitcher-friendly 60s and 80s) and belief that Dick Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame (this reviewer, who's old enough to remember what a mess he made of his teams, disagrees strenuously). On the whole, however, the analysis is excellent, well-integrated, thought-provoking, and well worth a read, at least if you don't mind long tables of statistics.
Unfortunately, the editing job is so poor that there are places where reading the analysis is frustrating. Somebody really needs to teach these people to spell, or at least to hire editor/proofreaders who can.Read more ›
I think the book also suffers from confusion about whether it is aimed at the serious baseball fan or the casual fan. There's a lot of advanced baseball analysis terminology and numerology in the book that is familiar to the perhaps 200,000 people who are fascinated by sabermetrics. But the authors want to cast a wider net, so they spend a fair amount of time explaining these concepts to the newcomers in the audience. Trying to serve two audiences weakens the flow for those of us who already are on the bandwagon.
Yet, the book has significant strengths. The stories of how certain teams were built and reached their pinnacle during a particular pennant race (or staved off collapse for one more year) are frequently compelling. In fact, they're stronger than the data and statistics, which is usually BP's strength. I'm not a softie for the stories about a particular player's "manhood" or "ability to play in pain" or whatever, but this book highlights those achievements without being hyperbolic about it.
In conclusion, it's a decent addition to my baseball library, but far from a grand slam.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It starts with an interesting idea. Take the boys and girls (those words are used fondly) who put together the annual Baseball Prospectus book, and sick them on pennant races of... Read morePublished on December 15, 2012 by WDX2BB
If you're really into baseball stats & second-guessing history, then this book is for you. Most of the pennant races have been talked about before in better books.Published on January 10, 2012 by voracious reader
As other reviewers noted, they definitely needed a good editor for this book. I lost interest after coming across several errors on the 1964 pennant race. Read morePublished on May 4, 2011 by S. M. Stenby
As would be expected coming from the statistical Baseball Prospectus group this entry is chock full of data and analysis concerning a number of past close pennant races. Read morePublished on October 27, 2008 by Michael L. Slavin
Baseball Prospectus is a premium web-site that engages in both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Read morePublished on September 16, 2008 by Frank L. Greenagel Jr.