NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main.

  1. http://www.fsgworkinprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Natural_3D_white_NC.jpgBaseball Prospectus 2016
  2. Baseball America 2016 Prospect Handbook: Scouting Reports and Rankings of the Best Young Talent in Baseball
  3. 2016 Baseball Forecaster, by Ron Shandler
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. 2016 Minor League Baseball Analyst, by Rob Gordon
  6. The Bill James Handbook 2016
  7. This Old Man: All in Pieces, by Roger Angell
  8. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  9. Baseball America 2016 Almanac: Comprehensive Review of the 2015 Season (Baseball America’s Almanac)
  10. The Natural, by Bernard Malamud

The top half is pretty much the same as last week, with “texts” for fantasy players hogging the spots. Welcome back, Malamud. The New York Times: The February sports list is without a single baseball title, following suit for the previous month.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 800,283. Last week: 1,062,665. So thanks for that but it can always be better. Help keep the dream alive!

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood that famous quote from Forrest Gump. If it’s a box of chocolate covered cherries, don’t you know exactly what you’re going to get?)

On the one hand, I’m happy to report that I’m catching up/running out of these old links. On the other hand, it’s been cool reminiscing.

I highly recommend Pocket as a way to hold onto links you come that you want to keep. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket keeps the entire page and makes it relative easy for you to find stuff you “pocketed.” I have keepers going back six years — more than 5,000 links — and I’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning house so here are some submitted for your amusement, perusal, and education. Some are not current, but in a sense, they’re timeless. Note: Sometimes individual sites remove the content or simply cease their existence, so Pocket isn’t 100 percent foolproof.

* * * * *

♦ I would venture to guess that the recent release of Jon Leonoukasis‘ documentary Hano: A Century in the Bleachers has renewed interest in the classic title, A Day in the Bleachers. Can’t say if the price for this edition with artwork by Mark Ulriksen remains the same, but the page is still fun to look at.

♦ Graham Womack wrote about “Reading Bill James for the First Time” on the Baseball: Past and Present site in 2012.

♦ Womack also wrote about the sticky situation of “Getting an autograph as an adult.”

♦ In 2012, Dinged Corners asked if $3.19 was the “new normal” for a pack of baseball cards. How much does a pack cost these days?

This is what we should be expected from the internet. I wish I could produce stuff like “The Long Strange Trip of Dock Ellis,” but then I don’t have the resources of an ESPN.

♦ I usually don’t like Deadspin. When they first started out, I considered them the TMZ of sports sites. But once in a while, they do ask interesting questions, rather than spew gossip and dish the dirt. Case in point: “What If Baseball’s Foul Lines Ran On Forever?

♦ Scott Tobias reviewed the documentary Knuckleball for NPR.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/images/tht/Bench,_Graves,_and_Warren.jpg♦ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of these day’s I’m going to produce something (book, essay, clip show) of all the baseball figures who have appeared in movies and on TV either as themselves or others.

♦ How did a movie like Trouble with the Curve ever get 17 positive reviews? Fifty percent on the Tomatometer? Now that’s more like it.

♦ NPR’s Scott Simon conducted this interview with Ray Negron, author of Yankee Miracles, in which he tells his story of rising up through the ranks of Yankee baseball from bat boy to head of community outreach for one of the most storied teams in major league baseball.

♦ A Wednesday Book Review of John Grisham’s Calico Joe.

♦  And an honest “Review of Zack Hample‘s Watching Baseball Smarter from somebody not annoyed with Zack Hample” via SB Nation.

♦ Baker’s Dozen Bonus: David Simon — of The Wire and Homicide: Life on The Streets fame — wrote a cover story about his beloved Baltimore Orioles for Sports Illustrated’s Oct. 1, 2012 edition, which you can read here thanks to the new and improved SI Vault site. Let’s hope they keep it this way from now on rather than keep screwing around with it.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Yesterday I wrote about the joy; today I write about the frustration.

Print publications like The Sporting News 2016 Baseball Yearbook are great, as long as you’re not looking for the latest information.

Case in point: The profile for the New York Mets notes

With [Daniel] Murphy and [Yoenis] Cespedes gone, [GM Sandy] Alderson must find a way to bolster the lineup further, if not by Opening Day then once again at the trading deadline.

One small “problem” — Cespedes resigned with the Mets late last month, obviously after the magazine went to the printer. That changes the analysis greatly, wouldn’t you agree?

I haven’t gone through the other profiles yet to parse them out as far as their assets versus their needs, but I’m guessing there are at least a few of those. So why should anyone pay for such outdated data?

https://jltnnva.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/yellow-pencil.jpgOf course, being on-line is no guarantee either. Just look at this piece from Sports on Earth about the “problem with preseason predictions.”

I’ve long said there’s no point in trying to make precises prognostications. That’s a world that rarely exists. All it takes is for a starting ace to tear a ligament or a stud batter go into a prolonged slump and there it all goes.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 2 comments }

Had a mishap at the gym yesterday and went to the CVS this morning on my way to work to pick up an ace bandage. I passed by the magazine section and there, beckoning like a siren, was this

IMG_0511

 

Welcome back, old friend.

http://www.gasolinealleyantiques.com/sports/baseball/images/books/1958streetsmithbaseball.JPGFirst up: TSN has picked up the mantle from the old Street and Smith publications, provided “Targets” and “how today’s players stack up to MLB’s all-time greats.” Shocking to see that Alex Rodriguez is a seemingly manageable 28 home runs away from passing Babe Ruth’s 714. No one will make the “500 Club” this year; Adrian Beltre is closest with 413. But 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki can crack 3,000 hits (65 away) and 500 stolen bases (two shy) — a feat accomplished by only five other players — with a decent season. That’s even more impressive when you consider he’s only been in the Majors since he joined the Seattle Mariners in 2001 — at the advanced age of 27.

As has become the case for these annuals, most of the real estate is devoted to team profiles (four pages per ball club). The breakdown goes like this: a brief narrative; a diagram of the projected starting batting order and defensive alignment/starting rotation/bullpen depth (with grades); an MLB ranking of offensive, defensive, and pitching stats; a schedule; a standard roster layout which also notes key additions and subtractions; a “Down on the Farm” report featuring the teams’ top 10 prospects plus “impact rookie”; a paragraph of managerial tendencies; a “scout’s view”; and a “bottom line.” Same old same old. What’s fun this time around is the addition of a brief “The Last Time…” something transpired for each team.

Whatever features there are, are sparse in length but many are interesting:

  • “Third Time Around” considers how starting pitchers fare as the last deep into the game
  • “Breaking Down the New Managers,” thumbnail sketches of the five new leaders and what they’ll need to do to have a successful campaign
  • “10 Breakout Players to Watch,” pretty standard stuff
  • “Macho Manny,” a profile of the Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado
  • “Clubhouse Leaders” and how much they really mean to a team
  • “Game-Changing Defenders,” a too-brief article about defense
  • “Number-Crunchers,” which strikes me as product placement for Inside Edge
  • “The Magic of Maddon,” a profile of the Chicago Cubs’ manager
  • “One & Done,” perhaps the best of the lot, which asks after the fairness of a play-in game

In addition, there are several pages devoted to minor league, college, and prep school baseball, something that was unheard of a generation ago.

The magazine concludes with a decent stats section. Another thing I’ve noticed: the font size is getting smaller each year. And no, it’s not my eyes. Wiseass.

The cover price remains the same as last year — $7.99 — so kudos for holding the line there.

 

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

My entry Read All About It: Blogs That Will Keep You Up on Baseball Books runs as part of The Baseball Continuum’s Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Dozens of bloggers participated in this worthy effort, offering an amazing array of topics from the serious to the frivolous, including Bookshelf friends Dan Epstein, Jason Turbow, Gary Cieradkowski, Jeff Katz, among many others.

 

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

20150701_133402

Funny how discoveries are made.

My wife and I were having lunch at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, last fall and dropped by the gift shop on the way out. Now usually, I hover around the door, tapping my foot impatiently and watching my watch. But right at the front of the shop was a display of a couple of baseball books, of all things (normally these places are stocked with refrigerator magnets, jars of jams and jellies, postcards, et al, so this was a welcome surprise.

The books in question — Baseball in the Bay State and Gehrig: Game By Gamewere written by Kevin Larkin, a retired police officer now working security at a hospital. Gehrig, in particular, was impressive, weighing in at more than 500 pages.

A day or so later we were in the Yellow House Bookstore in Great Barrington and I asked the proprietor about used baseball books and she mentioned Larkin, obviously a local celebrity.

I managed to find him online (Facebook does have its uses) and the ensuing correspondences resulted in this Bookshelf Conversation.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Sort list this time, as I’m pretty much caught up on most current events.

http://www.insidesocal.com/tomhoffarth/files/2014/06/TINYiversal-Dwier-with-Kevins-back.jpg Dwier Brown, who play Ray Kinsella’s dad in Field of Dreams was a recent guest on the Hall of Very Good podcast. (As a reminder, I also had a chat with Brown.)

♦ I keep meaning to brush up on the legal issues of the national pastime. Maybe I’ll pick up Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials, by Judge Louis Schiff and Nova Southeastern Law School Professor Robert Jarvis. Well, perhaps when the price comes down a bit.

♦ The Tate Modern — in London, England! — is hosting a show of “Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards,” created by Mike Mandel from February 18 to June 12.

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/044538a5-a0b8-44a5-927f-0697647af62c.img

♦ The current SportsBiblio.com entry includes a preview of new sports books through the middle of March. Just two baseball titles on the lists, both from Thomas Dunne.

The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time, by Howard Megdal: A behind-the-scenes account at how an iconic franchise has adapted to the financial realities of Major League Baseball.

The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend, by Glenn Stout: Babe Ruth’s 1919 move from the Boston Red Sox led to the rise of the New York Yankees dynasty and gave America one of its most enduring cultural icons.

 

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Here’s a sample of a regular card from the 2016 Topps series:

http://www.topps.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Trout.png

It’s all right, but I start thinking about television commercials and how much is “enhanced” by computers. You can throw in all the bells and whistles you want, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a superior product.

Now here’s one from their 2016 Heritage set:

http://beckett-www.s3.amazonaws.com/news/news-content/uploads/2015/09/16_Topps-Heritage-Baseball-stanton.jpg

This style is an 50th anniversary homage to the 1966 set, which was quite elegant in its simplicity, IMO:

http://media2.cardboardconnection.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/1967-Topps-Baseball-Willie-Mays.jpg

Everything old is new again.

I think the Heritage concept is kind of cool. It’s a way to attract both younger and older collectors, who, like me, might look back fondly on these designs. But maybe Topps doesn’t t have to wait that long to recycle.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 7 comments }

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51x6ONdmNdL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBaseball Prospectus 2016
  2. Baseball America 2016 Prospect Handbook: Scouting Reports and Rankings of the Best Young Talent in Baseball
  3. 2016 Baseball Forecaster, by Ron Shandler
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. The Bill James Handbook 2016
  6. Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos, by Jonah Keri
  7. 2016 Minor League Baseball Analyst, by Rob Gordon
  8. This Old Man: All in Pieces, by Roger Angell
  9. The Baseball Drill Book, American Baseball Coaches Association
  10. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman

Keri’s history of the Expos returns in paperback form. Fantasy players are getting hot and heavy as they prep for the new season, going so far as to see what’s going on in the minor leagues. When is enough enough?

New York Times: The monthly sports list is without a single baseball title. I expect that to change when  when the February list comes out next Friday.

Not on either the Amazon or Times’ monthly list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,062,665. Last week, 975,596. Come on, friends. Help keep the dream alive!

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood that famous quote from Forrest Gump. If it’s a box of chocolate covered cherries, don’t you know exactly what you’re going to get?)

On the one hand, I’m happy to report that I’m catching up/running out of these old links. On the other hand, it’s been cool reminiscing.

I highly recommend Pocket as a way to hold onto links you come that you want to keep. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket keeps the entire page and makes it relative easy for you to find stuff you “pocketed.” I have keepers going back six years — more than 5,000 links — and I’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning house so here are some submitted for your amusement, perusal, and education. Some are not current, but in a sense, they’re timeless. Note: Sometimes individual sites remove the content or simply cease their existence, so Pocket isn’t 100 percent foolproof.

* * * * *

♦ Highlights of a Lost & Rare baseball documentary from 1939:

♦ A clip from the 2010 documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. Talking heads in this in includes the late sportswriter Maury Allen, actor/director Ron Howard, and the late Yogi Berra.

♦ The Atlantic ran this review of Chad Harbach’s 2011 novel The Art of Fielding. Those of you who have been following the Bookshelf for awhile (thanks, by the way) know my feelings on the subject. This piece from the DailyKos is more about the backstory and reception of the book rather than the quality of the novel itself.

http://www.bobstaake.com/willardmullin/images/mullin_ani.gif♦ Artist/illustrator (and what’s the technical difference here?) Bob Staake hosts this tribute site to the legendary Willard Mullin, “the dean of sports  cartooning.”

♦ This obviously was published before Johan Santana’s gem.

♦ The Atlantic conducted this Q&A with Frank Deford following the publication of his memoir, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter.

♦  DNAIndia (!) posted this review of John Grisham’s baseball novel Calico Joe. Kind of surprised not to see any movie in development for this one. Whoops, spoke too soon.

♦ Bailey’s Baseball Book Reviews did one for Harvey Araton’s Driving Mr. Yogi.

♦ The Hot Corner portion of SBNation posted this vintage clip of Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown in action.

♦ My Bookreporter.com review of Don Ewald’s Spark and Me (and my Conversation with the author).

 

 

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/pics/walt_williams_autograph.jpgOne of the last great nicknames, Walt “No Neck” Williams died Jan. 23 at the age of 72.

Williams debuted with the Houston Astros in 1964. He returned after another couple of years in the minors, spending six of his 10 big league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He also played for the Cleveland Indians before finishing up with the New York Yankees.

His greatnephew, Mason, made his debut with the Yankees in 2015, appearing in eight games.

Here’s his obituary by Bruce Weber in today’s New York Times.

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

Honored to be the “closer” for The National Pastime Museum’s series on “The Baseball Book That Changed My Life” with an essay on The Tao of Baseball.

Following up on what I wrote last week, it’s flattering to be in a lineup with such a great group of folks who discussed their most influential baseball titles.

http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_detail/public/field/image/tao.jpg?itok=0M6JSTIt

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!

{ 0 comments }

The Bookshelf Conversation: Jon Leonoudakis

2015 title

The last time I spoke with Jon Leonoudakis for a Bookshelf Conversation, it was to discuss his 2012 project Not Exactly Cooperstown, a documentary about The Baseball Reliquary, a “nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Author appearance: Bryan Soderholm-Difatte at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse

2015 title

Bryan Soderholm-Difatte, author of The Golden Era of Major League Baseball: A Time of Transition and Integration, will help celebrate Black History Month at an event at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan on Feb. 4., at 7 p.m. From the event announcement: Beginning with Jackie Robinson’s rookie season in 1947, Soderholm-Difatte provides a careful and thorough […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Baseball manga review: Okiku Furikabutte

baseball art

(Japanese for “Big Windup!) Tanoshinde kudasai! Be sociable, share the Bookshelf! Tweet

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Because this would look nice on a bookshelf

collectibles

Early baseball star Lipman Emanuel “Lip” Pike is the subject of the 2016 annual brass medal from the American Israel Numismatic Association. The Prooflike medal measures 32 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 500 pieces. The pieces were struck at the Highland Mint. All AINA members receive an example of the medal […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Free association

2015 title

Paul Nuccio, a blogger at Outside Pitch, offers this piece titled “Put down that iPad! Here’s your offseason baseball reading list.” The recommendations include a one-sentence “rationale” for 16 books representing a broad array of topics and age. Nicely done. Be sociable, share the Bookshelf! Tweet

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Baseball Best-Sellers, Jan. 22, 2016

"Annuals"

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Coming down the pike

2016 title

Lisa Iannucci at The GetMoreSports site included four baseball titles among her “Anticipated Sports Books of 2016.”  Is it picayune to note that “anticipated” does not mean “looked forward to,” but merely “expected?” Anyway, the titles include (with the writer’s commentary): DiMag & Mick: Sibling Rivals, Yankee Blood Brothers by Tony Castro is due out […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →

Throwback Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 (aka links dump)

"Annuals"

Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood […]

Be sociable, share the Bookshelf!
Read the full article →
script type="text/javascript"> var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-5496371-4']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();