Top critical review
Not a Great Cover to Cover Read...OK for Casual Browsing
on March 17, 2016
This is the kind of book a reader picks up to gather a story or two to include in some type of presentation or as a book used for casual reading. As a cover to cover read, it becomes tedious due of its language and lack of a clearly defined structure. The author has broken down the chapters into decades starting with the 1870s and continuing up to the 1990s. Based upon this structure, I expected each chapter to describe the game of baseball and how the manager of the time dealt with his team during that period of time. Maybe I would read some sort of clear profile of what management was like and how the crowds responded to the game maybe what went into the manager’s thinking on and off the field. Maybe I would see a comparison between management approaches for direct comparison. I can’t say this didn’t happen, but not consistently and not within a structure that was easy for the reader to absorb. In each chapter, except for the 1990s, he gives a short synopsis of his opinion of the typical manager. He calls it a ‘Snapshot’. There is then a portrait of one or two managers he considers representative of that decade although he never really says why they are included to the exception of all others. The strength of the portrait is in the author answering a set of his fixed questions common to each of the manager profiles. The reader is then able to compare one manager to another using the common questions as a guide. If the author would have stuck to this format, the book would have in my opinion been more effective. However, he introduces several essays that although interesting often do not apply to what might be considered a ‘guide’ to baseball managers. These are often out-of-context stories of managers and players that leave no real impression as to what determined a manager’s success. Furthermore, the essays do not always relate to the decade being described: the stories within the decades chapters often sloshed over to other decades. It was all very confusing especially within the chapter structure. It seems the 1990s chapter is a catchall for topics that he had not covered previously. It did not include a manager profile. With all fairness, it is copyrighted 1997 so the decade was not over.
The book has the feel of something written on-the-fly almost like an article in a cheap magazine. He often left ideas hanging as though the reader knew where he was going or what he meant to say. The author attempts to explain his philosophy about two-thirds of the way through the book and then not in what I considered a satisfactory manner. If you are a casual or not a baseball fan, you will most likely skip right through this section. The names of the teams managed by the managers are also either left unidentified or hidden within the written material.
I did like his attempt at mathematical modeling of performance although trying to decipher the tables and ideas would take someone really interested in the subject a long time to verify and understand. His section on revising the back of a baseball card to statistically represent what a manager did during his managing career and not his playing career was something I had never really considered.
If you are a speed reader, it is not an easy read due to what I consider poor structure. If you are a leisurely reader and don’t mind just reading for entertainment, you might like this book especially if you are a baseball fan.