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on August 1, 2017
It's typical Bill James, but it is unique when it comes to a baseball manager book, so if you've read him before you know the drill: he loves digging up obscure research material, has contrarian opinions, and writes in a stream of conscious rambling random way. The Kindle version does not do the actual book justice because the book is formatted with tons of charts and insets.Besides, this is a reference/history book and is best read to randomly pick a manager and read about him. I loved the historical stories and personalities over James's standard Mr. Know It All comparisons and rating analysis.
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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.
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on July 10, 2015
Bill James has an informal and engaging writing style. While the book has lots of statistics (James is the father of Sabermetrics, after all), he never gets bogged down with numbers. I enjoyed the history on early managers, such as Cap Anson. I was not familiar with those iconic figures, and I enjoyed learning more about them.

A feature of the book that I particularly appreciate is that the chapters are relatively short and self-contained. I like to keep a book that I can read in short bursts on my Kindle, so I'll have something to occupy my time while waiting on others, during shopping trips, for instance! This book fills the bill perfectly.
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on February 16, 2015
As always, Bill James delivers a thorough analysis of his chosen topic (this time, baseball managers) with an occasionally self-referential, matter-of-fact, colloquial style.

There a couple things to note, though: The anecdotes and asides sometimes border on tedious, but they do underscore James's arguments well as he meanders through the history of baseball. Also, as can be expected, there is much overlap in terms of managerial style throughout the decades, which forces James to repeat a fair amount of information or reference earlier chapters. While this sort of writing reinforces the points made, it makes the book rather long.

Still, this book is definitely worth the read for any baseball fan, though I wouldn't recommend it for those just entering the world of baseball literature.
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on June 14, 2015
As usual w James, there are tons of great insights & clever colloquial writing. Even though he's best known for stats, he is a wonderfully descriptive writer w a great sense of humor and eye for detail. But this inquiry into baseball managers is annoyingly uneven and half baked. You can feel him losing interest, wrapping up some subjects way too quickly & then rambling on at length about minutiae like sacrifice hits that you can sense his heart isn't in. Don't love him any less, though. Even subpar James is great to read.
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on June 29, 2014
Admittedly a Bill James fan, I found this book to be only mildly interesting. It was surprising how many mistakes were in the book as well, i.e. typographical errors, misspellings, wrong words, etc. Whoever edited this book needs to find another career. All in all though, it just did not hold my interest as a baseball fan.
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on June 17, 2016
This is very interesting and informative book that packs tons of information on current managers and past managers. He does deal with many other facets of baseball strategy over the years and how it has changed. A fascinating read.
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on June 22, 2014

This book is a detailed survey of all the top managers in baseball. It is a very good book on baseball history and the patterns of the managers.
I like it,

David O Karickhoff
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on October 17, 2015
James is usually excellent and this book is no exception. He goes through a large number of great/good managers: Mack, McGraw, Lasorda, Herzog, etc. He rates the best managers of each decade; I don't always agree with his conclusions but it's intelligent and interesting throughout.
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on January 14, 2014
Books about managers are hard to come by and this one fits the bill rather nicely. Interesting analysis on the managers only made me want to read more of the same on a larger group of managers (Billy Martin for example). A very good read as usual from Mr James.
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