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8 Reviews
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only for Those Already Within the Temple
Whether I would recommend this book to a friend depends on a single fact, whether that friend knows the work of Bill James and feels that it changed how the friend views the world. If the answer is yes, then this book is the path to inform my friend that he is not alone, but shares a sense of wonder with numerous talented and accomplished folks. If the answer is no,...
Published on February 3, 2008 by David Alden

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High Hopes. . .but just okay. . .
I've been a big fan of Bill James and have longed for a critical review of his work. Doing that probably wasn't the intent of this book, but what we get is somewhat disappointing. It reads like there are 11 different writers contributing forewords to the next Bill James book. . .but then, there is no book. Granted, each of these writers are accomplished in their own...
Published on March 3, 2007 by D. McSpadden


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High Hopes. . .but just okay. . ., March 3, 2007
By 
D. McSpadden "Old Guy" (Columbia, Mo United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
I've been a big fan of Bill James and have longed for a critical review of his work. Doing that probably wasn't the intent of this book, but what we get is somewhat disappointing. It reads like there are 11 different writers contributing forewords to the next Bill James book. . .but then, there is no book. Granted, each of these writers are accomplished in their own rights and they are probably saving really good stuff for their own books.

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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Paean to Bill James, February 9, 2008
By 
JeffG "JeffG" (Tujunga, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
As most paeans, this is short on conclusions and long on feelings. If you've read Bill James' work, there's nothing new. It's nice to be reminded of some of James' best lines, but that's not enough excuse to read the book. On the upside, it's very short. The writers are mostly very skilled and are more or less the people one would hope were there. But for no apparent reason, random fans get a sidebar here and there, and they, sadly, are not all capable writers. All in all, go reread one of James' books instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only for Those Already Within the Temple, February 3, 2008
By 
David Alden (Petaluma, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
Whether I would recommend this book to a friend depends on a single fact, whether that friend knows the work of Bill James and feels that it changed how the friend views the world. If the answer is yes, then this book is the path to inform my friend that he is not alone, but shares a sense of wonder with numerous talented and accomplished folks. If the answer is no, then this book is a puzzling hagiography to a crusty curmudgeon who spent his life on trivialities.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure, September 17, 2007
This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
When you talk hardcore Bill James fan, you talk about me. Have all his book since BB Abstract 1980, read everything. There is very little stuff worth reading or new in this book, the best coming from Hal Richman. Not a bad reading but nothing out of ordinary, bordeline boring at worst. This is the problem; when we see something about Bill James, we always expect something extraordinary, something new. Not in this case
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ultimate teacher, April 6, 2008
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This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
Bill James has educated and influenced his readers in a way that few writers (or educators) ever do. He's largely responsible for a generation of internet writers and a number of savy front-office types. This book is a collection of essays that pay homage to James and focus on how James changed the writers' views, work and in some cases, lives.

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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Short story, December 11, 2012
By 
WDX2BB (New York State) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
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. The baseball writer and current consultant to the Boston Red Sox started something of a revolution in statistical analysis in his favorite sport. His Baseball Abstracts, which were issued from 1977 to 1986, were gobbled up by a group of fans who weren't afraid to see the game in a different way.

Those fans have gone on into other parts of their lives, of course, but they still consider James as an influential part of their lives.

Gregory F. Augustine Pierce has collected some of their thoughts about James in "How Bill James Changed Our View of Baseball." The title is pretty descriptive of the material.

Pierce has compiled contributions from 12 writers in the form of essays about James' work. They vary from writers to analysts to a basketball executive (Daryl Morey, then assistant general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets). Short notes from fans are also sprinkled in the text.

Most of the essays are very, very similar. James had the type of personality to question what he saw on the baseball field and not accept convention wisdom at face value. If anythiing, the people who read him learned that characteristic. The biggest problem with the book, then, is that the essays tend to sound alike after a while. The word "disciples" came to mind while reading this, and that may only overstate the case a bit.

The one exception might be from James' wife, Susan McCarthy. She's written essays before for James' books and always come off well. Obviously, the reader of this book gets a different perspective on how someone learned to watch baseball from James' wife than from any other source.

At least this book isn't 250 pages of tributes that sound alike. Still, this is mighty easy reading. At 136 pages of text in a 6.25 X 8.5 book, this goes by very quickly. It took me a little more than an hour to get through it. That's not much reading for $19.95

There's little doubt that Bill James is headed for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown some day. No other baseball writer would have a book like this written about him. Still, this is a little too unsubstantial for most tastes, particularly at this price. A trip to the library is definitely in order if you are at all curious about the book.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Slim But Important Volume, May 12, 2007
By 
Richard L. Goldfarb (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
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 dumb. He would type things the way he always had, and then make one mistake and the computer would execute that mistake as perfectly as it had all his correct commands, and he wondered why the computer couldn't learn. And although computers can, in certain instances, learn (which is why Google will suggest that your search was different from the one you misspelled, for instance), they have gotten, in my opinion, even dumber, as you can get a message that is in perfect gibberish that you have to accept or cancel, and you have no idea what it is. Microsoft Word will still prompt me to use "Paste Special" to make something into HTML even though every one of the million times I've used it, I used it to make unformatted text. And everytime computers are dumb, I think of Bill James and his wisdom 20 years ago about computers.

Today, if there were a new Bill James, a community of Bill James lovers would grow up instantly though MySpace pages and the like. There would be a Bill James Web Ring of fan sites and everyone would know everyone else was out there. But for those of us, like the contributors to this book, who were experiencing the Abstracts in real time (I bought the 1982 Abstract at Waldenbooks; I can remember the day), we were all discovering this really good writer who had insights into baseball and into life that we could use in everything else we did. As the books shows, some of them turned out to become engineers as well as sportswriters. I use James's insights and methodologies in my law practice (don't tell my clients).

And it's reading those stories of how each writer came across James and used James and took his lessons to heart and benefited from it that are at the heart of this book. It could have been longer, but every essay in it is interesting and thoughtful. Some criticize James for some things (which would please him) and some get him wrong (which wouldn't surprise him), but the general sense is that this is a labor of love for people just like me for whom the insight has been life-altering without once needing to enter any place more intimidating or serious than what Bull Durham called the church of baseball.
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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Die Hard Bill James Fans, April 11, 2007
This review is from: How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball (Hardcover)
This collection of writings about Bill James is a must-read for hardcore fans of James. Learn how others apply his basketball principles to other parts of life.
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How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball
How Bill James Changed Our View of the Game of Baseball by Alan Schwarz (Hardcover - March 1, 2007)
$19.95 $17.71
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