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How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball Hardcover – March 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Some of the best stuff is from Hal Richman (founder and CEO of Stratomatic)who mixes his contribution with praise for James, as well as noting the difficulties he has had with examining defense. Daryl Morey, the assistant GM for the Houston Rockets, writes about how he has tried to apply some of James' ideas to basketball. I also enjoyed Ron Shandler's chapter on Fantasy Baseball, but I would disagreed with some of his observations. Bill James may not have embraced fantasy baseball as much as some people think he should, but he hasn't disdained it either.
I was also disappointed with Neyer's contribution. Neyer, no doubt, has plenty of anecdotes he could share about James. He only shares a couple, but I am sure there are some great ones where he and James clashed over some analysis or conclusion. Those are the stories I want to hear about.
So, all in all, it's okay. I would only recommend it to the die hard Bill James fans.
Others may argue, with cause, that the book could have provided more insights into James, his work, and his character. But if we accept the thesis that the primary goal of the book was to assure the readers that they are not alone in their deep appreciation for what James has brought to their lives, then the book succeeds admirably.
Highlight: The Susan McCarthy chapter is an intriguing insight into an unconventional but successful marriage. Lowlight: The formatting, with its numerous distracting sidebars, was a poor choice. For the latter, I'll subtract a star. But if, like me, you discovered James in the 1980s and he has informed your world view ever since, you should read this book.
The best essays are by Dave Studenmund (the editor of The Hardball Times Annuals), Daryl Morey (the assistant GM of the Houston Rockets) and Gary Huckabay (one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus).
Morey wrote that James taught him not to "assess value to randomness" (pg. 95).
Huckabay's piece is titled "The Arrogance of Bill James." Here is a passage from his essay:
"Cries of 'arrogance' are often the first reaction of an existing power structure to the suggestion of change. It's true not just in baseball but also in virtually every industry or enterprise, from politics to the arts. However, for the group that happens to be in power, making the decisions that actually drive the enterprise or industry, the disquieting reality is that the true arrogance is not displayed by the upstart with the new idea but the calcified inhabitants of the positions of power."
Huckabay goes on to explain why baseball execs and baseball writers have reacted so negatively to James over the years. His essay is, by far, the best in the book.
There are a number of sidebars that are written by regular readers of James (some are engineers, professors or writers). Some are interesting, some are tedious. There is nothing really new in this book; it's just an appreciation.
One should be familiar with Bill James' work before tackling this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wasn't what I had hoped for...short essays about Bill and his work. However, this disappointment must be tempered by the notion that I did not pay close attention to the book's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by hj
Here's an odd little book, with the emphasis on little.
If you don't know who Bill James is, you haven't been paying attention. Read more
My favorite Bill James insight has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. It was in the Abstract the year he bought a computer, and the insight was that computers are incredibly... Read morePublished on May 12, 2007 by Richard L. Goldfarb