Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game

Rob Neyer. HarperCollins, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-285361-5
An afternoon at the ballpark prompts wider analysis in this genial treatise on the recent evolution of baseball. ESPN columnist Neyer (Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders) revisits the Sept. 8, 2017, game between the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros, which started as a blowout but ended as a nail-biter. Neyer’s sharp play-by-play is a hook for extensive color commentary on changes in the sport, including the increases in home runs and strikeouts; the rise of infield shifts against pull hitters; the proliferation of specialist relief pitchers; uniform and hair-styling fashions; and the tsunami of stats, right down to the velocity and launch angle of every batted ball, that now dictates baseball management. Along the way he profiles the players, recapping their journeys through the minors, trades, injuries, and comebacks. Neyer’s tome is the anti-Moneyball, with a well-informed but skeptical take on sabermetrics and the science of baseball performance: in his telling, well-planned trades and top draft picks fizzle, last season’s bum becomes this season’s star, and statistical certitudes always bow to lady luck. It’s a ramble, but Neyer’s deep knowledge and punchy prose—“The guy on the mound might be throwing aspirin pills, almost too fast to see”—make the book a treat for dedicated fans. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-286589-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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