“The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team” by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller
Baseball, professional, owners
May 3, 2016
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Building his or her own real baseball team is a dream for many fantasy baseball players. For two editors of Baseball Prospectus (the current and former editors), that dream becomes a reality when they were allowed to run the baseball operations of the Sonoma Stompers of an independent league in California. The adventures of Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller running this team during the 2015 season are captured in this excellent book.
Given their occupations and obsession with statistical analysis, the duo tries to assemble the roster completely through their spreadsheets (even calling some of their prospects “spreadsheet guys”) but soon come to realize that some old-fashioned scouting and legwork will work as well. The comparisons to Moneyball are inevitable and they actually provide some of the more entertaining passages from the book. For example, one of the funniest lines of the book states that “if the A’s were a ‘collection of misfit toys,’ as Micheal Lewis wrote, then we’ll be building a team out of toys that got recalled because they were choke hazards.” I was in tears after reading that line.
Some of the passages are also more serious or even poignant such as some of the exchanges between Sam and/or Ben and the players or the manager. When trying hard to sell a strategy such as a defensive shift or using a closer for more than just the ninth inning, the guys realize that there has to be some trust in the instincts and knowledge of baseball men like the manager and scouts. There is a lot of compromise on these types of conflicts throughout the Stompers’ season.
This format is a winner for the book as it is one that anyone who is a baseball fan, whether a stat geek or an old-school believer; casual fan or addicted seamhead, young or old, should add to his or her baseball library. It will entertain, inform and delight all readers of baseball books.
I wish to thank Henry Holt and Company Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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