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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Behind the Curve(ball)

Every once in a while I come across a book that I missed the first time around. I know everyone else has already read Moneyball, but until recently I hadn't -- and now that I've read it, I agree that every self-respecting baseball fan needs to read it.

Much has been made about Billy Beane (Oakland A's general manager) and his statistical approach to assembling a team. The oft-repeated caricature of Beane and his ilk as a bunch of math-obsessed nerds misses the point. The stats-geeks love baseball as much as the traditionalists -- they just have an unquenchable desire to understand the nuts and bolts of the game, instead of relying solely on their immediate perception of players and teams. Michael Lewis narrates the battle between the new-school statistical approach and the old-guard "Baseball Men" (a club restricted mostly to former players and scouts), and follows Beane's path from a failed prospect (who was described as "can't-miss" by the old guard) to a major league general manager assembling overlooked and ignored players into a playoff team.

If you're gearing up for baseball to start (March 25th!), and you haven't read Moneyball yet, definitely grab a copy. It's a great read and will definitely change the way you understand the game.