A smart, accessible look into the philosophy of baseball, with a focus on its lessons for a life best lived.
A smart, accessible look into the philosophy of baseball, with a focus on its lessons for a life best lived.
Taking seriously the idea that baseball is a study in failure—a very successful batter manages a base hit in just three of every ten attempts—Mark Kingwell argues that there is no better tutor of human failure’s enduring significance than this strange, crooked game of base, where geometry becomes poetry. Weaving elements of memoir, philosophical reflection, sports writing, and humour, Fail Better is an intellectual love letter to baseball by one of North America’s most engaging philosophers. Kingwell illustrates complex concepts like theoretically infinite game-space, “time out of time,” and the rules of civility with accessible examples drawn from the game, its history, and his own halting efforts to hit ‘em where they ain’t. Beyond a “Beckett meets baseball” study in failure, Kingwell crafts a thoughtful appreciation of why sports matter, and how they change our vision of the world. Never pretentious, always entertaining, Fail Better is set to be the homerun non-fiction title of the season.
In this passionate ode to baseball, Toronto Blue Jays' fan Stacey May Fowles offers her personal perspective on the game she loves.
Mark Kingwell is as at home discussing Battlestar Galactica as he is civility, can find the Plato in popular culture, and sees in idleness a deeply revolutionary gesture. In Measure Yourself Against the Earth, he brings his heady mixture of critical intelligence and infectious enthusiasm to bear on film, aesthetics, politics, leisure, literature and much more, showing us how each can help us to imagine and achieve the society we want. The concept of "the gift" unites many of these essays: it is in this idea, Kingwell argues persuasively, in which we may be able to refashion the real world of democracy. "An activist, fugitive democracy. A living democracy that is no opaque demand but a real thing—a society. Democracy: the gift we keep on giving each other." Smart, engaged, and wide ranging, Mark Kingwell's Measure Yourself Against the Earth confirms its author as among our leading cultural theorists and philosophers.
This vibrant blend of memoir, travelogue, and reflection on the deep truths of angling is framed around an annual fishing trip that Mark Kingwell and his father and two brothers take each year to British Columbia. Between the drinking, the cigars, and the piloting of a small dingy, Kingwell, previously of the belief that “fishing is stupid,” finds that the sport does allow for one important thing—quite a bit of time just to think, to allow thoughts to wander and new vistas to open up. This realization leads Kingwell, who makes his living as a professor of philosophy, to ponder everything from masculinity and procrastination to golf and the value of work—not to mention the relative benefits of wet versus dry flies, the cast, and how best to fool a fish. As the book engagingly shows, fishing is worth thinking about because of the thinking that fishing allows. Especially when the trout aren’t biting.
One of Wall Street Journal's Best Ten Works of Nonfiction in 2012 New York Times Bestseller “Not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War…could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade.” —New York Times Book Review "Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." —Rachel Maddow, author of Drift "A serious treatise about the craft of prediction—without academic mathematics—cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver's coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism." —New York Review of Books Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future. In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science. Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise. With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The rich, poignant tales of major league baseball’s most hard-luck fraternity—the pitchers of its Almost-Perfect Games From 1908 to 2015, there have been thirteen pitchers who have begun Major League Baseball games by retiring the first twenty-six opposing batters, but then, one out from completing a perfect game, somehow faltering (or having perfection stolen from them). Three other pitchers did successfully retire twenty-seven batters in a row, but are still not credited with perfect games. While stories of pitching the perfect game have been told and retold, Almost Perfect looks at how baseball, at its core, is about heartbreak, and these sixteen men are closer to what baseball really is, and why we remain invested in the sport. Author Joe Cox visits this notion through a century of baseball and through these sixteen pitchers—recounting their games in thrilling fashion, telling the personal stories of the fascinating (and very human) baseball figures involved, and exploring the historical American and baseball backdrops of each flawed gem. From George “Hooks” Wiltse's nearly perfect game in 1908 to “Hard Luck” Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning, 36-consecutive-outs performance on May 26, 1959 (the most astounding single-game pitching performance in baseball history) to Max Scherzer’s near miss in 2015, Joe Cox’s book captures the action, the humanity, and the history of the national pastime’s greatest “almosts.”
The president of New York University offers a love letter to America’s most beloved sport and a tribute to its underlying spirituality. For more than a decade, John Sexton has taught a wildly popular New York University course about two seemingly very different things: religion and baseball. Yet Sexton argues that one is actually a pathway to the other. Baseball as a Road to God is about touching that something that lies beyond logical understanding. Sexton illuminates the surprisingly large number of mutual concepts shared between baseball and religion: faith, doubt, conversion, miracles, and even sacredness among many others. Structured like a game and filled with riveting accounts of baseball’s most historic moments, Baseball as Road to God will enthrall baseball fans whatever their religious beliefs may be. In thought-provoking, beautifully rendered prose, Sexton elegantly demonstrates that baseball is more than a game, or even a national pastime: It can be a road to enlightenment.
The late Commissioner of Baseball reflects on the wider significance of baseball, the business of the game, and his decision to suspend Pete Rose
From his perspective as a journalist and a true fan, Bob Costas, NBC's award-winning broadcaster, shares his views on the forces that are diminishing the appeal of Major League Baseball and proposes realistic changes that can be made to protect and promote the game's best interests. In this cogent--and provocative--book, Costas examines the growing financial disparities that have resulted in nearly two-thirds of the teams in Major League Baseball having virtually no chance of contending for the World Series. He argues that those who run baseball have missed the crucial difference between mere change and real progress. And he presents a withering critique of the positions of both the owners and players while providing insights on the wild-card system, the designated-hitter rule, and interleague play. Costas answers each problem he cites with an achievable strategy for restoring genuine competition and rescuing fans from the forces that have diluted the sheer joy of the game. Balanced by Costas's unbridled appreciation for what he calls the "moments of authenticity" that can still make baseball inspiring, Fair Ball offers a vision of our national pastime as it can be, a game that retains its traditional appeal while initiating meaningful changes that will allow it to thrive into the next century. From the Hardcover edition.
One Nation Under Baseball highlights the intersection between American society and America's pastime during the 1960s, when the hallmarks of the sport--fairness, competition, and mythology--came under scrutiny. John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro examine the events of the era that reshaped the game: the Koufax and Drysdale million-dollar holdout, the encroachment of television on newspaper coverage, the changing perception of ballplayers from mythic figures to overgrown boys, the arrival of the everyman Mets and their free-spirited fans, and the lawsuit brought against team owners by Curt Flood. One Nation Under Baseball brings to life the seminal figures of the era--including Bob Gibson, Marvin Miller, Tom Seaver, and Dick Young--richly portraying their roles during a decade of flux and uncertainty.
Put your game into overdrive with this complete guide to harnessing your athletic instincts. In baseball, a five-tool player possesses the five most important skills: hitting for power, hitting for average, defense, arm strength, and speed. But there is one essential skill that brings it all together: the sixth tool. It's that extra something, an X-factor that can make a good player great. In this fully illustrated, information-packed guide, coach Mark Gola shows you how to use your smarts to channel your instincts, psych out your opponents, deal with pressure, and much more. Whether you're in Little League or heading for the majors, Baseball's Sixth Tool will teach you how to: Fire up your baserunning without increasing speed Step up your defensive play using keen observation and communication Master pitching with super-smart strategies Perfect your swing by getting prepared before you step to the plate Become the all-around all-star player that every coach wants
Every spring, millions of Americans prepare to take part in one of the oddest, most obsessive, and most engrossing rituals in the sports pantheon: Rotisserie baseball, a fantasy game where armchair fans match wits by building their own teams. In 2004, Sam Walker, a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal, decided to explore this phenomenon by talking his way into Tout Wars, a league reserved for the nation’s top experts. The result is one of the most sheerly entertaining sports books in years and a matchless look into the heart and soul of our national pastime.
The lively and fascinating story of baseball’s 150-year hunt for the perfect pitch In August 2012, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in what Terry McDermott calls “one of the greatest exhibitions of off-speed pitches ever put on.” For McDermott, a lifelong fan and student of baseball, the extraordinary events of that afternoon inspired this incisive meditation on the art of pitching. Within the framework of Hernandez’s historic achievement, Off Speed provides a vibrant narrative of the history and evolution of pitching, combining baseball's rich tradition of folklore with the wealth of new metrics from a growing legion of statisticians who are transforming the way we think about the game. Off Speed is also the personal story of a fan’s steadfast devotion, first kindled in McDermott by his father at the local diamond in small-town Iowa and now carried forward with the same passion by his own daughters. Approaching his subject with the love every fan brings to the park and the expertise of a probing journalist, McDermott explores with irrepressible curiosity the science and the romance of baseball.
A Home on the Field is about faith, loyalty, and trust. It is a parable in the tradition of Stand and Deliver and Hoosiers—a story of one team and their accidental coach who became certain heroes to the whole community. For the past ten years, Siler City, North Carolina, has been at the front lines of immigration in the interior portion of the United States. Like a number of small Southern towns, workers come from traditional Latino enclaves across the United States, as well as from Latin American countries, to work in what is considered the home of industrial-scale poultry processing. At enormous risk, these people have come with the hope of a better life and a chance to realize their portion of the American Dream. But it isn't always easy. Assimilation into the South is fraught with struggles, and in no place is this more poignant than in the schools. When Paul Cuadros packed his bags and moved south to study the impact of the burgeoning Latino community, he encountered a culture clash between the long-time residents and the newcomers that eventually boiled over into an anti-immigrant rally featuring former Klansman David Duke. It became Paul's goal to show the growing numbers of Latino youth that their lives could be more than the cutting line at the poultry plants, that finishing high school and heading to college could be a reality. He needed to find something that the boys could commit to passionately, knowing that devotion to something bigger than them would be the key to helping the boys find where they fit in the world. The answer was soccer. But Siler City, like so many other small rural communities, was a football town, and long-time residents saw soccer as a foreign sport and yet another accommodation to the newcomers. After an uphill battle, the Jets soccer team at Jordan-Matthews High School was born. Suffering setbacks and heartbreak, the majority Latino team, in only three seasons and against all odds, emerged poised to win the state championship.