There are good teams, and there are great teams, and then there are teams that cross into legend where a case can be built for naming them the best team of all time. The Cubs of Tinker to Evers to Chance. The Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig, and later DiMaggio and Dickey, and, later still, Mantle and Maris and Ford, and still later, O'Neill and Jeter and Williams and Cone. The '29 A's, the '55 Dodgers, the '70 Orioles, the Big Red Machine. Rob Neyer
and Eddie Epstein
identify 15 of these powerhouses, assess the overall stats and individual achievements of each, examine the durability of the numbers, and compare and contrast them relative to one another in an attempt to identify the one team that truly lived up to--and exceeded--its potential to stand alone.
It's a fascinating performance, as insightful as it is argumentative. (Neyer, a columnist for ESPN.com, and Epstein, a former baseball exec, don't always see eye to eye, and some of their disagreements are posted as dialogues.) Along the way, they debunk some myths (Mantle's 565-foot home run) and create new stats to test relative performance (one makes Johnny Bench the best catcher of all time--no problem there--with Mickey Cochrane second). Poignantly, they also project some "what-ifs," as in what if Lou Gehrig had stayed healthy for the '39 Yankees.
After parsing and reparsing team after team, Neyer and Epstein arrive at their conclusion, and while they pretty much disagree on places 2 through 15, they manage to present a unified front for No. 1. It's a team in pinstripes, but probably not the first--or second--to come to mind. Given the precision with which way they lay out their case, you'll have to work awfully hard to overturn their verdict. --Jeff Silverman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Baseball teams thrive on arguments. This book will start enough of them to keep the Hot Stove League in session all year long. -- George F. Will
Few athletes are part of one baseball dynasty. I was fortunate enough to be part of two. This book captures the unique characteristics that make great teams great. -- Davey Johnson
It's wonderful to read a book by someone who really knows
something about the great teams, knows things that I don't know, knows even important
things that I didn't know. This is the book that everybody else who writes about great teams, for the next 30 years, will have to begin by reading, just so they know what they're talking about. -- Bill James