“Eyes Within the Diamond: Inside the Game, Outside the Box” by Stacey Marc Goldman
Baseball, professional, lists, statistics, race
November 19, 2016
3 ½ of 5 stars (good)
This book doesn’t really fit neatly into a common baseball book category. While there is advanced statistical analysis of many great players, it isn’t a sabermetrics book in the same manner as Bill James. There are essays about many of the players listed, but it isn’t the type of book to curl up on your favorite piece of furniture and read for hours. There are many lists of the greatest player in many different categories and positions.
This was problematic for me at first, as I was confused as to why the author would start creating lists of the greatest players with no explanation of how he graded these players. But as I kept on looking at lists and reading essays on the Negro Leagues, the book got better. There are also essays on players from every era and an interesting comparison of the two Canadian franchises in Major League Baseball history, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos.
What really settled my mind, however, was at the end of the book when Goldman gave the formula for how he graded both hitters and pitchers and that helped explain his rankings and comparisons. The comparisons were of great players – to settle the argument of who was better between the two. Many different parings were compared, such as Barry Bonds vs. Ty Cobb and of course Joe DiMaggio vs. Ted Williams.
Goldman also tackles a tough subject – the institutional racism of the game before integration and much of the writing and listings give much credit to the Negro Leagues. He believes Josh Gibson is the greatest baseball player ever and he makes a compelling argument. Other stars from the Negro Leagues such as Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige also are prominent in the book.
This book is best read in small doses or used as a reference book to look for the best players at certain positons. It’s also a great reference to settle a bet or argument about the best players. Many books with lists are useful for that purpose and this one follows in that mold.
I wish to thank Summer Game Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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