Monday, October 15, 2012

Book review - Moneyball.

I have to confess, I saw the movie before I read Michael Lewis' Moneyball. Before the movie came out I had this book on my to-read someday list. The movie moved it up and I was recently able to pick up a copy.

Perhaps because of the Oakland A's recent successes, I must say I found nothing particularly controversial in Billy Beane's ideas of how to build a baseball team. I independently came to the conclusion years ago that on-base percentage is a more valuable stat than batting average. Of course, I'm not as good with numbers as Beane and Paul DePodesta nor am I involved in the management of a Major League Baseball team.

Being a tad mathematically challenged, there were a few parts of the book that flew over my head as Beane assembled his low budget - high win team. That didn't keep the book from being a real page turner and hard to put down. Michael Lewis writes well and makes concepts clear while holding the reader's interest. Even having seen the movie didn't spoil the read. Beane's not the sympathetic character he is in the movie and he appears to miss a few things along the way but he's still a striking figure.

If you are an A's fan, a baseball fan, a math or business whiz, or just interested in a good read then Moneyball would be well worth your time.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Book review - Sixty Feet, Six Inches.

Lonnie Wheeler's Sixty Feet, Six Inches is a frank 273 page discussion between Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson. At closer range than the actual distance from the mound to home, the two cover game situations, playing philosophy, great players, umpires, and cheating among other topics.

I found the book to be interesting and informative. The format is relatively unedited with no commentary by Wheeler. If Gibby or Reggie didn't say it, it isn't in here. The effect is a bit like being a fly on the wall while the two greats talk. The book is broken down by topic so it can be read a little at a time if needed.

As I read through the book I found myself learning much about baseball, Gibson, and Jackson. Think Willie Mays was the toughest hitter Gibson ever faced? Think again. Think Jackson didn't care what his teammates thought of him? Wrong. Who's most in favor of free agency and the player's union? Who would be most likely to have used steroids if they had been available when they were playing? The answers might surprise you.

If you're a baseball fan you owe it to yourself to read Sixty Feet, Six Inches. Lonnie Wheeler has compiled a classic and it's a must read.