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2.08.2006

Wedlock and Headlock 

I haven't read a baseball book since the outstanding Sandy Koufax biography, so I got frisky and ordered two Will Carroll tomes today, The Juice and Saving the Pitcher.

The latter topic particularly interests me in the twilight of my, ahem, career. I stayed off the mound most of 2005 with a sore shoulder -- impingement, the physical therapist told me. I think there's something else going on in there, but I can't bear to get an MRI and have my suspicions confirmed. Hmm, maybe The Juice holds some career-lengthening tips, as well...nah. At my age the only juice I need is cranberry to keep old man river flowing freely.

But back to Carroll: I like him for the same reason I like most BP writers. Not because he comes up with new, creative ways of examining baseball, and not because he stubbornly refuses to cave in to sentiment. I am, after all, a sentimental fool. No, it's because Carroll is a darn good writer.

You'd think statgeeks and medheads would trip over their own jargon and egos every other sentence. More often than not, BP writers don't. (A few I find nearly unreadable, but I'll hold my tongue.) The new stats can be daunting, but the better writers are deft at avoiding SNVA/WARP/Rate2 pileups, or explaining in simple terms when necessary. The best keep a good sense of humor about it all, too. After all, we're talking about baseball, not nuclear proliferation.

Another who has expanded beyond BP is Dayn Perry. I linked to one of his pieces a while back and sparked some nasty words in the comments box. I'm not sure why -- Perry is one of the snappier baseball writers around.

His latest Fox column is an excerpt from his new book, Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (And It's Not the Way You Think). In its own right the piece is a great synopsis of the Ted Turner-era Braves, sprinkled with nice details.

One of Ted's zanier promotional nights early in his ownership: Wedlock and Headlock Night. Group wedding followed by professional wrestling? Sure beats a Dave Matthews concert, y'all. If the rest of the chapters are as lively and informative, I may end up with three baseball books to get me through the dreaded February doldrums.

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