Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
on May 9, 2011
It is tempting to write "If you like Bill James, you'll like this" and leave it at that, but that would be misleading and, well, kind of cheap.
Most readers will likely come at this from their interest in, and / or love of baseball. Much of this will satisfy them, assuming they like Bill James. However, there is a good deal here that isn't concerned with baseball in the least.
Now, most of us who love baseball and are interested in it also have other things on our minds from time to time and several chunks of this book address other things on James' mind. Your use for those essays will depend upon how wedded you are to an ostensible baseball book being ONLY about baseball topics. It may also depend upon what you think of James as a casual essayist.
All of these essays have appeared previously on James' website, which I do not subscribe to. Thus I had not read them before, save a big section of "Shakespeare and Verlander," which was run on Slate a few weeks ago. This one is actually a nice bridge piece, using these two rather disparate individuals to look at how societies work to foster some talents while short-changing others. It is a witty and thoughtful essay that won't do a thing for making your fantasy team better, but will give you a thing or two to think about, should you choose to do so.
And so on. I like James' conversational writing style, both on and off the field, as it were, and I was happy to digress into topics like the insidiousness of traffic light cameras, airport security and the power of ignorance as a force for knowledge. I also like James' analysis of the minor leagues, the future of the Hall of Fame viewed in light of expansion, and the best pitchers' duels of the 1980's. I am just fine with James going off on tangents - James has always gone off on tangents and, often, the tangents are worth the price of admission. Thus is this. It's no Historical Baseball Abstract, but it isn't even remotely trying to be. It is a fun,informative read, perfect for jumping into and out of, and if you like Bill James, you will probably like this.