Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning Paperback – September 19, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
On the positive side, it condenses into one volume all of the decisions that went into the making of a championship team. It's especially insightful because Baseball Prospectus has a similar understanding of the game as Sox' GM Theo Epstein. I also appreciated the fact that it's not a pure "stathead" book, and delves into things such as why it's sometimes sensible to overpay a player such as Jason Varitek, why (at the time) it made sense to sign Matt Clement in place of Pedro, and why team chemistry matters (it doesn't always help, but it rarely hurts.)
On the down side, it could have used a lot more proofreading and copy editing; there was at least one paragraph that I had to re-read three times before I could figure out who "him" was (Frank Crosetti). Maybe we need a new stat, "Typos Above Replcement Writer," or "Grammatic Efficiency Ratio."
Perhaps most annoyingly, it's full of glib political references that will alienate about 50% of readers. At the very least, they're distracting, sending the reader off into thoughts of, "Is that a dig at somebody? Is he right?" when you want to be thinking about baseball. These sorts of things are fine in a daily column, but they're inevitably comtemporaneous, and may be hopelessly obscure before the Sox win again. The book would have been much better had the author restrained himself. I don't understand why sportswriters do this, especially since Baseball Prospectus holds itself to much higher standards of accuracy than most political analysts.
But, if you want to read the real story behind the 2004 Red Sox, if you want to understand the thinking behind the most talented and progressive management in the game today, then this is the book.
What "Mind Game" does very well is analyze what made the 2004 Red Sox different from all the failed clubs that came before it. Theo Epstein had a plan, he stuck to that plan, and he had a manager in Terry Francona who believed in the system and understood how to execute it. He didn't build a collection of superstars in the Yankee mold, but rather a team of players with specific strengths placed in roles that exploited those strengths.
There are some very provocative ideas in the book, several of which have been mentioned in previous reviews. Is Pedro really the greatest pitcher of all time? Is Derek Jeter really overrated? Is Keith Foulke really a better pitcher than Mariano Rivera? The authors make their case, and while you might still disagree after reading it, there is plenty of food for thought.
Like "Moneyball" before it, "Mind Game" challenges some generally accepted baseball principles. Unlike "Moneyball," however, "Mind Game" is an ex post facto analysis. It's much easier to watch the Red Sox win the World Series and then proclaim Theo Epstein a genius than it is to actually sit in the Draft room with Billy Beane and explain why he knows better than the scouts.
Another issue I have with "Mind Game" is that it is a collection of essays as opposed to a cohesive story about a team. Ironically, the book is like the Yankees. The sum of its parts is better than the whole.Read more ›
The naysaying reviewers criticizing everything from political jibes (I think I saw *2* in the whole book) to a supposedly *obvious* point (Rivera being solved by the Sox due to their familiarity with him) are being hypercritical. There are plenty of announcers out there (the likes of Joe Morgan and such) who would NEVER draw the conclusion on Rivera that BP has.
I *liked* the essay format, as a distinct change of pace from the "on April 15, they did this ... on April 21 they did that" tomes. The book DID have a flow to it, logically and chronologically. Analyses were sensibly connected to what the Sox were dealing with at the time ... injuries, brawls, offense vs. defense. The "stathead" stats were presented with a minimum of "even if you don't understand it ... just go along with it". There was a *logic* to the presentation.
The one thing I do have an issue with (and it has been said before) is some sloppy editing, particularly in latter chapters. Typos, disjointed sentences and factual errors made for some difficult reading at times. I know the final piece of the book was written in early August for an October release, but it still irks me a bit.
This is a daring attempt to present a recap of one team's season in a new format. I think we should be offering them congrats.
While the title purports to explain "how the Boston Red Sox got smart ... and created a new blueprint for winning," the book itself does a poor job of detailing that blueprint. As a collection of essays, the book comes off disjointed and wildly inconsistent. Obviously, some chapters are better than others, but overall most of them were disappointing.
The James Click chapter, "Cracking the Rivera Code," is typical of the book. It tries to explain the red sox success against the yankee closer: basically, it comes down to his limited repertoire and being overworked. So you see all this "sabre"-rattling comes in support of pretty commonplace and pedestrian conclusions that one could easily have guessed at without any kind of statistical data.
You also get retreads of familiar sabremetric topics as on-base percentage, the importance of pitch counts, etc. In other words, this is a lesser version of moneyball with boston standing in for oakland.
By the way, winning ONE championship hardly constitutes a blueprint for winning! Obviously, this book was written before the red sox were swept out of the playoffs in the 1st round by the white sox, but still it is rather proposterous to make that claim on the basis of a single championship season. Right now, you would have a better case for anaheim's brand of "smartball."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best thing about reading anything by the team that writes for the Baseball Prospectus is the wit and humor with which they analyze the game on the field. Read morePublished on August 25, 2007 by Roger D. Launius
In retrospect, any team that wins a league championship has done nothing but make the right moves. How could it be otherwise? Read morePublished on September 6, 2006 by N. Bilmes
I'm a subscriber to the Baseball Prospectus website and read their sabermetrically-oriented articles every day, so I was looking forward to "Mind Game" to see what new insights... Read morePublished on July 21, 2006 by E A Glaser
I love reading about baseball, and I'm a huge fan of sabermetric analysis. Plus, I hate the Yankees. So I was prepared to love "Mind Game." But it's a distinct disappointment. Read morePublished on February 12, 2006 by Avid Reader
THIS BOOK IS FOR RED SOXS FANS AS ITS TRATS THE YANKESS AS BUMBLERS.Published on January 31, 2006 by Paul B. Kane
You need only look at the back cover proclaiming Pedro Martinez the best pitcher EVER and claiming Mariano Rivera WASN'T the best closer in baseball from 199-2003 to know this book... Read morePublished on December 2, 2005 by Douglas Mashkow
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox finished four games behind the New York Yankees at the conclusion of a 162-game regular season. Read morePublished on November 22, 2005 by Write Guy