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Graphical Player 2010
Graphical Player 2010
by John Burnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.95
14 used & new from $0.07

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graphical Player 2010, December 27, 2009
This review is from: Graphical Player 2010 (Paperback)
For those not aware, the Graphical Player annual has been issued since 2004. (Actually, until 2007, it was called "Graphical Pitcher" - as it covered pitchers at first and then was expanded to cover batters as well.) John Burnson - of BaseballHQ.com and Heater Magazine fame - is the moving force behind this book.

"Graphical Player 2010" has an incredible amount of data, presented in a somewhat unique style along with commentary on more than 1,000 current baseball players provided by bloggers who cover their teams - and edited by Burnson with some help from Rob McQuown and Michael Street.

Now, it's been years since I was a serious fantasy baseball enthusiast. In fact, I pretty much dropped the game after the 2000 season. But, had Graphical Player been around back then, it would have been a "must-have" for me at that time - and I would recommend that "Graphical Player 2010" is a must-have for the serious fantasy baseball franchise owner today.

O.K., that said, even if you're not a roto-head, many will still derive a lot of use out of "Graphical Player 2010." Why? Well, if you're a baseball fan, and someone who's into sabermetrics, you will find "Graphical Player 2010" to be both pleasing and intellectually stimulating. It's just full of fun stats like xFIP, wOBA, and Wins Above Replacement - as well as stats that cover a player's component skills, how luck may have impacted his stats, and, for pitchers, the strength of the teams he faced.

This book is great fun. Again, the "Graphical Player 2010" is a must-have for the diligent fantasy baseball competitor and a treasure trove of sabermetric data for the thinking baseball fan - and highly recommend here.


Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen
Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen
by Lewis J. Paper
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game And The Men Who Made It Happen, October 9, 2009
I have to confess that, when I first glanced at a copy of Lew Paper's "Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen," my first reaction was "I'm not sure if I'm going to like this...after all...what haven't we heard about this game already?" But, I decided to read the book, nonetheless. And, now, I can share that I was very happy to make that call to give it a try.

"Perfect" is a wonderful book. It's more than just a recap of Larsen's perfecto - it's the life stories of 19 New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers players who took part in that contest. And, Lew Paper did an excellent job at telling these stories - they are well sourced, informative, and entertaining.

Whether you're someone who remembers that era of baseball or one of the two generations of baseball fans who have come along since, you will enjoy this book. It's a great read for any baseball fan and a must read for the "New York" baseball fan.

If Don Larsen's World Series perfect game were a box of Cracker Jack, then the players who appeared in it would be the molasses-covered popcorn treats inside and Lew Paper's new book is now the special prize that comes along with it. I highly recommend Lew Paper's "Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen."


Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain
Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain
by Martin Appel
Edition: Hardcover
58 used & new from $0.01

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marty Appel's "Munson: The Life And Death Of A Yankee Captain", July 8, 2009
When I was a youngster, I was a huge fan of Thurman Munson.

To this day, if I close my eyes, I can quickly remember the feeling of sitting in Yankee Stadium, as a 13-year old, with my father, watching the Yankees play with Munson at bat and runners on base.

During these moments, my heart would race - where it felt like it was about to jump out of my chest (because it was beating so hard and fast). Why? Because I wanted Thurman to come through...as he was "my guy."

And, more times than not, Munson did the job.

It's been so many years, but, in this memory, I can still see Munson slapping a line drive into right field, as if he was picking the ball out of opposing catcher's mitt with his bat, waiting until the last minute to go the other way with the pitch, with Yankees runners rounding third and coming home to score...man, talk about pure exhilaration...that was it.

Being such a Munson fan, I was (and still am) very interested in learning more about him. And, for the last three decades or so, I've been waiting for the ultimate book covering the entire story of Thurman Munson.

Now, thanks to Marty Appel, with his new book "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain," we have what I have been waiting for...all these years. With this book Appel provides us with the complete account of Thurman Munson's life and untimely passing...with no holds barred.

With this work, we get to see the many facets of Munson's life: Thurman as a ball player, a friend, the family man and a real estate entrepreneur. And, we get to see the good and the bad sides of the man. This includes getting to see Thurman as the everyday likeable guy who eats Oreos and milk for breakfast, watches the Three Stooges, sings commercial jingles to himself, has a terrible sense of fashion, and who would go out of his way to help people (with no fanfare whatsoever). But, we also get to see Thurman as someone who was somewhat insecure at times, cursed at sportswriters, gave the fans "the finger" during a game, cut many of the dysfunctional family members out of his life, and who once fired a gun in the Yankee Stadium parking lot.

Also, with this biography, Appel provides a superior account of the complete Thurman Munson timeline - bringing us from Munson's youth, through his time with the Yankees, to covering his tragic death in terms of the event itself and the impact it had on many (both inside and outside the Munson circle).

But, what I enjoyed most about "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain" is how the story is told. In the book, Appel uses his own voice as well as those of many others who knew Thurman - including his teammates and friends. And, many of these sources are people who most were never aware (until now) as being a big part of Munson's life or parties that you would not expect to have some insight on the Munson story.

In summary, I would offer that "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain" is a must read for any Yankees fan over the age of forty, a highly recommended read for Yankees fans of any age, and a recommended read for anyone interested in baseball and a very well-done story about one of more notable players from the last half-century of the game's history.

This book will engross, entertain, enlighten and "touch" you all at the same time. It's too bad that we had to wait 30 years for a book like this on Thurman Munson. But, now that its here, I cannot imagine a better one ever being done compared to the job Marty Appel did with "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain."


The Fielding Bible--Volume II
The Fielding Bible--Volume II
by John Dewan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.95
38 used & new from $0.53

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fielding Bible -- Volume II, March 29, 2009
In addtion to all the wonderful statistics and analysis that one would expect to find in "The Fielding Bible -- Volume II" - based on what was provided in the first book - now there's even more goodies therein.

The new "stuff" includes, but is not limited to, Defensive Runs Saved for players over the last three years, Total Runs for each player (meaning the combination of Runs Created, Baserunning Runs, and Defensive Runs Saved) in 2008, Bill James' Misplays/Good Plays leaders for 2008, Analysis of Defensive Positioning, and Bill James' Universal Fielding Percentage.

And, of course, "The Fielding Bible -- Volume II" also provides Plus/Minus Leaders and Trailers, The Fielding Bible Awards, Defensive Scouting Reports and a bunch of thought-provoking essays/studies centering on the analysis of baseball defensive play - just as the first volume gave us.

Needless to say, I highly recommend "The Fielding Bible -- Volume II." It's a must for the thinking baseball fan and an essential component for any creditable baseball library.


The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009
The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009
by Hardball Times Writers
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from $3.70

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009, February 19, 2009
I've been thumbing through "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009." Good stuff.

For each big league team, the book covers what happened last year, players lost from last year's team, players acquired, the team's management, minor league system, what's due to change for the team, reasons to be optimistic and pessimistic about the team, what's left for the team to do, as well offering a most likely outcome for the team in 2009. In addition, "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009" provides commentary and statistical projections for the batters and pitchers on each major league team.

Also, this book includes a projected standings for 2009 - based on 100 computer simulations of the 2009 season. (Good news for Yankees fans: "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009" standings projection says that the Yanks will be the only team in baseball to win 100 games this season - just edging the Red Sox by 2 games to win the A.L. East.)

This book is billed as being "a sneak peek at every major league player and team for the upcoming season" and it clearly meets that goal.

Along with what I've mentioned here so far, "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009" also contains projected fantasy (baseball) dollar values for players, an essay targeting which players are injury risks for 2009, and rookies to watch this season.

When you look at this total package, "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009" serves as an excellent one-book-meets-all-needs source for fantasy baseball owners. However, it's appeal is not limited to just the fantasy baseball crowd. Analytical baseballs fans, whether they play fantasy baseball or not, will enjoy reading "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009" due to the nature of the projections that it provides on players and teams. (Along with each projection, this book provides a "Reliability" score which tells you how reliable the player's projection is based on how much data the authors had to work with for that player. Cool beans.)

Based on it's content, price and the enjoyment that it provides from reading it, I recommend picking up a copy of "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009."


Bill James Handbook 2009
Bill James Handbook 2009
by Bill James
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from $0.50

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bill James Baseball Handbook 2009, November 16, 2008
I'm a raving fan of the Bill James Baseball Handbook.

This year's edition has everything that you would expect from the Bill James Baseball Handbook - plus some new wrinkles, including: career post-season stats (through 2007) and a new section on relief pitching.

Some interesting facts and figures from the Bill James Handbook 2009:

Did you know that Joe Girardi had Yankees runners moving with a pitch 173 times in 2008? That was tops in the majors - and the tops in the A.L., by far.

Yet, this past season, the Yankees were 62/230 in terms of going "1st to 3rd" on the bases - and 110/192 going "2nd to home."

For a point of comparison, the Rays were 60/199 going "1st to 3rd" and 105/185 going "2nd to home." And, the Angels were 85/235 going "1st to 3rd" and 121/202 going "2nd to home."

And, in terms of "manufacturing" a run - in terms of producing a run where a stolen base, bunt, or pinch-runner was involved, the Yankees "manufactured" 52 of these types of runs in 2008.

For a point of comparison, the Twins had 95 of these runs, the Angels had 65, the Red Sox had 57, and the Rays had 62.

O.K., that's just a taste of the sort of stuff that you can find in the Bill James Handbook 2009.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys baseball stats. You can sit with it for hours and enjoy it. I know that I will...in fact, that's why I'm not writing more about it now...as I'd rather be reading it at this moment that writing about it.


Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back
Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back
by Josh Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover
157 used & new from $0.01

111 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Belief Connects, October 11, 2008
I just finished reading "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back."

Now, I know what you're probably thinking here; and, it's "How can someone who is just 27-years old author their biography?" Or, [if you know me] maybe it's "Aren't you a little old to be reading baseball `puff piece' books?" Then again, maybe you're thinking both of these things?

Well, let me tell you..."Beyond Belief" may only cover the first 27 years of Hamilton's life. However, there's a very interesting story to tell within those first 27 years. And, trust me, this book is far from being a `puff piece.'

As I was reading Hamilton's story, all I could think about was "Wow. This is `The Natural' - just like the movie. Except, as entertaining as that movie was, the story seemed too far-fetched to be true...and, now, here's the same story...and it's all true!"

First, some background on Hamilton. When he was six-years old, Josh was playing on youth baseball teams for boys between the ages of eleven and twelve. Picture that...a 6-year old playing against 12-year olds. And, regardless of that age gap, he was one of the best players on the field during the games. Hamilton's talent, even at that young age, was off-the-charts.

And, Josh Hamilton's talent never fell back to the pack. Related, he was the first overall pick in Major League Baseball's 1999 Amateur Player Draft - at the age of 18. At that time, Josh was considered as being as good as Alex Rodriguez was at the same age.

However, in 2001, when he was just 20-years old, Hamilton - who, up until this time, was a squeaky-clean All-American boy in an Opie Taylor type way - started abusing alcohol and using illegal drugs. And, his habits became so bad that he became low-life crack addict...hitting absolute rock-bottom. In the process, he nearly destroyed the lives of several loving family members and threw away millions of dollars.

And, we're not talking about a blip on the radar here. Josh Hamilton's slide towards destruction was a five year journey through hell. During this time, he went through eight different drug treatment and rehabiliation centers.

We've seen stories like this in baseball before...names like Rod Scurry, Steve Howe and Ken Caminiti come to mind...and many times they have ended in tragedy. Yet, through his faith, Hamilton was able to gain control of his life...and get back into baseball as a 25-year old (in 2006) and bring his career to the point where he was the highlight of the Homerun Derby at the 2008 big league All-Star Game.

But, forget the baseball-side of the Josh Hamiliton story. And, just focus on the "person" angle here...as that's what's so riveting when you're reading "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back."

This book tells the story of a great talent - perhaps one of the greatest talents ever - falling so low, and out of control, to where the talent is wasted and its host becomes one of the dregs of society. And, once at the bottom, there are years of struggle to become whole again...with repeated rounds ending in failure after failure. And, then, finally, there's redemption. But, it's tempered with the fact that there's no guarantee of permanence - and that everyday is a new battle. Yet, on the flipside, everyday is also a chance to use lessons-learned to help others.

Human nature being what it is, "these types of stories" just resonate well with us...and Josh Hamilton's story is one of the best out there...in terms of "these types of stories."

I would recommend "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back" to anyone who wants to read a great, true, and inspirational tale - regardless of whether or not they're a baseball fan. I was very happy to read Hamilton's book. It's extremely well done.

This one connects - and it goes a long way.


Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs: Baseball's Grand (and Not-So-Grand) Finales
Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs: Baseball's Grand (and Not-So-Grand) Finales
by Bill Chuck
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
33 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs: Baseball's Grand (and Not-So-Grand) Finales, May 16, 2008
Bill Chuck is the man behind Billy-Ball.com and Jim Kaplan is a former writer for Sports Illustrated who has authored (or co-authored) several other books.

With "Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs," Chuck and Kaplan take a look at the greatest post-season races and World Series games of all-time, the final moments for many Hall-of-Famers, the last games played at ballparks now gone, some famous streaks in baseball history, players who passed away while in active duty, and a slew of other "last" baseball trivia type items.

For a baseball fanatic, "Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs" is a fun little book. I've enjoyed thumbing through the pages and reading it in a pick and choose type fashion.

Chuck and Kaplan have done a great job compiling the information for this book. If you're looking to add a unique reference material to your baseball library, or, if you want to get an original and entertaining gift for the baseball fan in your life, I recommend that you pick up a copy of "Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs: Baseball's Grand (and Not-So-Grand) Finales."


The Bill James Gold Mine
The Bill James Gold Mine
by Bill James
Edition: Paperback
37 used & new from $0.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bill James Gold Mine 2008, March 13, 2008
If circumstances only allow you to purchase and/or read one baseball book this spring, you cannot make a better choice than "The Bill James Gold Mine 2008."

In this book, James provides fun and informative statistical analysis on every big league team - in addition to 17 new essays that are a treat to read.

Among my favorites were:

"Three to Five Run Records" - which shows you the best and worst teams when they scored or allowed three to five runs in a game.

"The Dave Kingman Award" - where James uses "HR/[RC+10]" to show us which batters over the last 30 years were the "best" at "hitting home runs without doing anything else positive as a hitter."

"The Turk Farrell Award" - which identifies good pitchers who had terrible records because their team stunk.

"The Nolan Ryan Award" - given to unreformed power pitchers via James' formula of "[W*L*SO*BB]/IP."

"End Game" - which identifies "the moment at which it ain't over, but it's over" for a team with respect to their place in the standings. (This essay suggests that the three greatest collapses in baseball history belong to the 1951 Dodgers, 1964 Phillies, 2007 Mets, and 1978 Red Sox - in that order.)

"Closer Fatigue" - where James shows how fatigue level of a closer impacts success for his team.

"Strength Up the Middle" - that confirms good teams are strong "up the middle" - and it's more true that bad teams are weak in this area.

"Bullpens and Crunches" - that establishes teams with good bullpens "tend to exceed expectations" in one-run and close games. But, it also shares that there's no definitive evidence that teams with strong bullpens do well in the post-season.

"Herbie" - where James introduces a stat that identifies "a more reasonable candidate for the league's best pitcher than the actual ERA leader."

Brass tacks, if you were a fan of The Bill James Baseball Abstracts, you will enjoy this book. And, if you've never read James' Abstracts, and always wondered what the fuss was about, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.

"The Bill James Gold Mine 2008" is the type of baseball book that's so much fun, and enlightening, that you'll want to re-read it, again, the minute you finish reading it for the first time. And, there's a good chance that you'll want to read it a third time after that - as there's so much good stuff in it.


The Hardball Times Season Preview
The Hardball Times Season Preview
by Brian Tsao
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from $1.66

4.0 out of 5 stars The Hardball Times Season Preview 2008, March 6, 2008
This is a fun book to get you primed for the season. The folks at The Hardball Times reached out to various internet baseball authors to cover each team in the majors. Those who frequent baseball sites will recognize many of these folks - such as Brian Borawski, Lisa Gray, Bradford Doolittle, Dave Studenmund, Larry Mahnken, Steve Treder and John Brattain - who have contributed to "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2008."

For each team in the majors you get the following:

+ A projection on their 2008 won-loss record.
+ A summary of their 2007 season.
+ General comments on the team's strengths, weaknesses, G.M., Manager, ballpark, minor league system, and a listing of "favorite team blogs."
+ Keys for 2008 in terms of players lost and acquired, reasons to be optimistic and pessimistic, who's due for a better and worse season, and what's left for the team to do.
+ Player statistical projections for 2008.

In addition to all this, you also get an essay from David Gassko on projecting career statistics and an essay from Chris Constancio on rookies to watch for 2008.

I recommend checking out "The Hardball Times Season Preview 2008." Whether you're a fantasy baseball participant looking for some handy draft/auction reference material or just a baseball fan looking to get some interesting insight on your favorite team as well as the rest of the teams in the big leagues, this book lends towards satisfying your needs.


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