Monday, May 2, 2011

"Men At Work"-George Will-A Story of Baseball

We've got a book review for Baseball Fans-George Will's "Men At Work". Yes the man's a Conservative Pundit but he knows a thing or two about baseball. Or a thousand, or a million, things or two.

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”Men At Work”-George Will

So who knew that George Will was such a baseball fan?

I do know that Will is a very good writer and has mostly Conservative political leanings. It wasn’t until my book club choice was Will’s book-“Men At Work”, that I discovered Will’s astounding insight and knowledge of baseball, both as a business and as a sport.

This is not a recent book, make no mistake, having been published in the early 80’s. And I’m no major baseball fan though I have been at times in my life. I am an Oriole’s fan, being from Baltimore and all that. I’ve never belonged to a book club before but think the idea is great, being an avid reader and a writer of sorts.

Thus all three things came together and I found myself sitting down and reading all sorts of statistics and minutiae about baseball that I never thought my mind could handle.

Actually, my mind couldn’t handle a lot of this book in that way I figger, George Will must live life operating strictly from the left hand side of his brain. The brain’s left side is the part that processes at the data and detail of life. Such as emotions spring from the brain’s right side.

Some facts about this book: Will evidently used Tony LaRussa and the Ripkin family for much of the source data. I deduce this based mostly on the fact that Will quotes these folks extensively throughout the book.

Will keeps the book categorized in terms of the Manager, the defense, the pitcher and the batter.

"To understand the primacy of defense, try this. Imagine that the rules of baseball were amended to require four outs to retire a side. What would happen? Scores would soar, games would go one and on and on. A 33% increase in the number of outs almost certainly would result in much more than a 33% increase in runs. But mediocre defense does just that: It gives the other team four-out innings.

The above quote is an example of how the “work” of baseball is affected by one of the four major “jobs” of the team.
Will’s pre-occupation with details, stats and outright minutiae is a bit much for the casual baseball fan. Such as myself.

In fact, since this was my book club’s monthly choice, we did chance to discuss, beyond the book, BASEBALL! The book club member who suggested the book had been a coach of several youth league baseball teams. I chanced to ask him, for whatever reason, just what is a knuckleball and how is it thrown. The former coach then stood up and illustrated the pitch and in a burst of enthusiasm, then showed how many other sorts of pitches are thrown, how to effectively field balls, on to other information that kept me mesmerized, unfortunately, way more than Will’s book.

In summary, Will’s “Men at Work” book was a great read. The casual baseball fan will probably skip through a lot of the detail; the more enthusiastic fan will revel in that same detail.

For I did finish the book thus do not think it detailed a more casual baseball fan into dropping the whole read. But I did skip through a lot of the verbiage, looking for, I think, just how a knuckleball is thrown and how to better field a ball.

That I learned in discussing Will’s book, rather than in the reading.

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