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Brushbacks and Knockdowns: The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries Paperback – May 19, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Barra is like one of those passionate sports geeks who always have a copy of Total Baseball handy to lay a statistical foundation for their arguments, yet his sheer enthusiasm for the sport ensures he never lapses into the pedantic. While his last book (Clearing the Bases) touched on a wide range of subjects, in this collection of essays he explores issues at much greater length. So when he says the starting lineups for the 2003 All-Star Game were the worst in the game's history, he'll dig up a list of the 20 Hall of Famers from the 1933 game (and the outfielder who should be in the Hall) to show you how they stack up, then give you rosters from 10 more years for good measure. Who is and who should be in the Hall of Fame is a recurring theme; persuasive arguments are made for, among others, outfielder Minnie Minoso and Robin Roberts, "the unluckiest great pitcher in baseball history." Although Barra, who writes for the Wall Street Journal and Salon, is on less sure footing when he addresses broader sociological issues, like why fewer kids (both white and black) are trying out for baseball, he openly recognizes his limitations and even leaves room for fans to challenge him on his strengths. The debunking of the Yankee dynasty myth, buttressed by a firm belief in the current competitive balance among all the teams, is the most obvious topic for fans to argue about this spring, but there's sure to be others.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

“Allen Barra...a wonderful baseball writer.”

---George Will

“Barra...has outdone himself in this latest book. His stances on a variety of hot-button issues are sure to cause arguments, agreement, and even outrage.”

---USA Today

“Jolts readers into reconsidering baseball’s clichés. For those fans who love to argue the merits of baseball’s greatest players and teams.”

---The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[Barra] poses provocative questions and goes at them from all sides, setting up an argument, knocking it down, circling back to look from yet another angle.”

---The Los Angeles Times

Praise for Clearing the Bases

“If you love the game for what it is...step up and dig in.”---The New York Times

“The book...is a real hackle raiser, but utterly fascinating.”---The Boston Globe

“Barra’s clear-eyed analysis makes Clearing the Bases one of the most thought-provoking books on the game to appear in some time.”---Bookpage

“Barra...worships at the altar of statistics, where he isn’t afraid to sacrifice a sacred cow or two.”---The Washington Post

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312322488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312322489
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,262,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Rogers on July 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is really sensational! It's the most stimulating baseball book of the year. I loved Clearing The Bases, but I think this book is even better. The chapters on Yogi Berra and Barry Bonds are terrific, but the chapter on the New York Yankees and the myths surrounding them is alone worth the price of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael A Humphreys on June 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful baseball book that combines personal reminiscence, statistical analysis and even some social commentary. Barra is not afraid to tackle some controversial topics. I particularly enjoyed the essays about Yogi Berra, competitive balance, Barry Bonds' unprecedented performance, and the degree to which luck and "scrappy" play, rather than brute dominance, enabled the Yankees to win so many championships over the past few years.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I got this book for my father and he loves it. The chapter on the Yankees makes more sense than anything I've ever read on them. This is the most entertaining baseball book I've read all year.
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