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Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way Paperback – April 1, 2004
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"Not everyone can write a great baseball book . . . Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have succeeded, and they deserve our congratulations."
"A 'must-read' for professional baseball fans and anyone seeking to learn team-building tips from the pros."
About the Author
Mark Armour is a Red Sox fan who works in the sorftware industry and dreams of the day when he can talk about his team's path to glory. He has published articles with the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).
Top Customer Reviews
The first ill-advised topical digression is that it rarely really talks about "great" baseball teams, at least not dynastic ones (with significant exceptions in sections on the Oakland A's of the 1970s and the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s, both of which are excellent analyses). Instead too much time is spent not just on near-misses but on one-shot wonders that never got close to real greatness. I mean, the 1924 Washington Senators may have been a great human-interest story (after all, the immortal Walter Johnson finally got his ring...), but a "great" team? Hardly, and they never had a realistic chance to be great. Too many other chapters follow this pattern of looking at the wrong teams, and not for want of subject material -- where were the discussions of the blue-smoke-and-mirrors St. Louis Cardinals of the 1960s or 1980s, the great Koufax/Drysdale/Los Angeles pitching juggernauts, and above all, the post-WWII Yankees? The subject of this book simply was not as advertised.
Second, to report *that* a thing occurred is not the same as to say *how* it occurred, much less *why*. Practically all of this book's case studies are long on data but short on analysis, and particularly short on conclusions that address the question promised in the title. Lacking such a focus, too many of the chapters don't provide much insight beyond what can be gained in the superficial team histories of a Palmer/Thorn "Total Baseball." The authors promised more, and should have delivered it.
These concerns aside, there is much to like here. The explanation of statistical techniques is excellent work, a number of historical trends in baseball are skillfully discussed, and the appendices are full of useful information. I would therefore still give "Paths to Glory" a qualified thumbs up for the thoughtful baseball fan, as long as that fan doesn't expect total fidelity to the title, or to the expectation that the "why" questions in this most beautiful of sports are going to be answered to the reader's satisfaction.