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Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball Hardcover – April 4, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This isn't a commentator's diatribe against the sport, but rather a fan's case for baseball. What do I want? I think the same thing that most baseball fans want: To see the game prove worthy of our devotion.

Bob Costas loves baseball. And he's worried about the state of the game--superstar players abandoning the teams that helped them rise to greatness, the awkward interleague play system, the pennant-race-weakening wild cards, and the payroll disparity that effectively eliminates two-thirds of the teams in the league from having any chance to win the World Series--even before opening day. Costas addresses these problems and offers provocative solutions in Fair Ball.

Costas makes it clear from the outset that he's not a romantic, baseball-should-be-played-in-flannel traditionalist; indeed, some of his ideas--comprehensive revenue sharing and salary caps and floors--will be seen as radical by many team owners and players. Others are more standard--no more wild card, and farewell to the DH--but all are thoughtful and cogently argued.

Throughout Fair Ball Costas's affection for the national pastime softens his occasionally strident tone. Ultimately, all baseball fans want the same thing; Costas's ideas, if adopted, would go a long way toward returning the game to full health. --Sunny Delaney

From Publishers Weekly

Costas isn't the first announcer to write a manifesto on what's wrong with baseball, nor is he the only person to think the game's soul has been debased by hyper-escalating salaries, bonehead revisions to the league and shortsighted owners toeing the bottom line. But he is one of the more persuasive and eloquent. Costas firmly grasps the game's economics, and he marshals mounds of evidence and countless wise insights to show why the sport needs revenue sharing, a salary cap and a salary minimum to restore competitive balance. Next, he dissects other gimmicks of 1990s baseball, such as interleague play, the wild card, the oft-proposed radical realignment. Thankfully, Costas never sits back and says, "It was better when...." Instead, he carefully shows that these gimmicks have been implemented poorly, that they've achieved nothing they were supposed to and that they've instead made pennant races obsolete. In the last frame, Costas briefly pushes a few more hot buttons--umpire oversight, Pete Rose, the DH--and offers what may prove his most controversial opinion: he advocates using instant replay during the playoffs. Throughout, Costas remains evenhanded. If he blames most of the game's problems on the owners, he's no less critical of the superstars and their union lackeys, who, he argues, care more for a few huge paychecks than all the guys making minimum. Author tour. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1st edition (April 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767904656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767904650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,696,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Liesenfelt on July 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bob Costas has taken the time (and laying his reputation on the line) to put forth a case to put the Game/Business of Major League Baseball on the right track to insure its place of prominence in the sporting world. The result of his efforts is a well thought out, capable and possibly, doable plan to fix the problems that have been growing since the strike of 94/95.
Granted, not all of the ideas are original to Mr. Costas, but he places all the ideas together, something I haven't come across before. As stated earlier, Mr. Costas premise is that the future stability of baseball has been further weaken by the owner's decisions since the last strike. Among Mr. Costas' solutions are: a revenue sharing arrangement, including local the team's media revenues and gate receipts; a salary cap complete with a floor; no radical realignment of the divisions; and the elimination of the Wild Card.
Along the way Mr. Costas chides both the owners and the players for their selfish, self-motivated attitudes, which left unchecked, just hurt the game.
One drawback to the book is the last chapter in which Mr. Costas discusses nine minor points that are best left out of the book, as the subjects do not fit the book's theme, with the exception of the debate on the DH.
In the Introduction, Mr. Costas states that his effort is to draw distinctions between progress and mere change. Mr. Costas' book does just that and is a good starting point for all baseball fans to discuss the future needs of the game.
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Format: Hardcover
Bob Costas presents an intelligent, well reasoned, and objective analysis of the state of baseball. From revenue sharing and realignment to the barber shop debates over the DH, Pete Rose, and the size of the strike zone, Costas outlines a prescription to both revitalize the great American pasttime yet keep it in balance with its long tradition. Fans of the big market teams will find his pill hard to swallow; but having grown up around Kansas City and St. Louis baseball, it seems medication worth considering. Costas steps away from the passioned positions of owners and players to present a plan that will, in the long run, make The Game better. I highly recommend this short, readable book. You may not agree with Costas or like him, but anyone who respects baseball will find his ideas worth consideration. Hey, Bud Selig, are you out there?
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Format: Hardcover
I joked with my buddy earlier this year that I am going to stop rooting for the Yankees because I think the Yankees winning another World Series would be as much fun as winning a pickup game of softball in which you get to choose the eight other players you want first rather than alternating picks. After reading this book, I became even more disenchanted with the Yankees and the unlevel playing field that exists in MLB. What is great about this book is that Costas not only makes the case of what is wrong with the system but provides very rational solutions to improve it. I would love to hear Bud Selig's thoughts on why Costas' solutions shouldn't be implemented other than George Steinbrenner, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner don't think it is a good idea.
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Format: Paperback
I have listened to Bob Costas announce sports for probably over 20 years. When he isn't trying to wax poetic about sports, he is a knowledgeable and entertaining broadcaster. With that in mind, I decided to read his book "Fair Ball" which is his manifesto as to how the game of major league baseball can be improved in the future.
Much of his book concentrates on the issue of revenue sharing, which has been a bone of contention among owners for years. His plans for sharing local broadcasting money and for sharing ticket money are solid ideas, but they've been suggested before and little has been done over the years because the teams that rake in the most money through these are not likely to want to part with them. Costas says that the big-market teams need to look at the long-term impact that revenue sharing will bring to the entire league, but doesn't really address that it will be very hard for owners of those teams to do that.
His arguments for realignment, interleague play and scheduling are great ideas. I liked the concept of interleague play when it was adopted in 1997, but did not know that the same divisions were always going to play each other each year. Major league basball has agreed to follow one of his suggestions as it is following an unbalanced schedule this year (where teams within a division play more games against each other than against the rest of the league). So maybe they will look at the bigger picture someday.
I agree with his positions on mostly everything else, including allowing Pete Rose to be eligible to enter the Hall of Fame, the elimination of the designated hitter and a day World Series game (the latter will never happen, however, because of the money that will be lost from advertisers).
Costas has written a concise argument for baseball. I hope the powers that represent the owners and players read it before the end of the collective bargaining agreement at the end of this season!
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Format: Hardcover
Costas brings to light several issues with Major League Baseball that have been inherent through the 90's. Everyone knows that small market teams simply cannot compete with the big market clubs with their cable revenues and such. Costas, however, brings in the emotional side of this issue. Is it really fair to the fans and how will this effect baseball in the future? Costas has always been a proponent of bringing to light controversial issues in sports. With this book, he makes it clear that there are problems with America's past time and because it is Costas, people will listen.
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