THE DIAMOND APPRAISED by Craig R. Wright

THE DIAMOND APPRAISED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

That's a baseball diamond--and it's scrutinized through the loupes of both theory and experience in this heady forum that pits former Texas Rangers "sabermetrician" Wright against ex-big-league hurler House, now pitching coach for the Rangers. Why "sabermetrician?" Because, Wright explains in the forthright way that characterizes both his and House's contributions, "no one was going to take seriously a business card that read 'Baseballologist.'" But that's how Wright makes his living, pursuing "the study of baseball by dealing with ideas and evidence" (and a lot of statistics)--and that's what's on parade here, in 11 chewy tandem-essays (Wright, then House) that include: a debate over the relative merits of Ty Cobb and Pete Rose (and the latter's pathetic and maniacal pursuit of Cobb's all-time hits record); the pros and cons of knuckleballers; a frontal attack on the keeping of error records; the innovative notion of catcher ERA; and a boosting of Honus Wagner as the game's top player ever. Much of Wright's material is built on technical talk and numbers--"Flashes had more than three times (16 to five) as many BFS of 31.0 as did Veterans, and at an average age about a year and a half younger (21.6 to 23.0)"--but much is anecdotal too; and when he threatens to measure life more by a slide rule than common sense (as in calling for clubs to groom knuckleballers in the minors), House steps in with the hard-nosed wisdom of experience (noting, for example, that with clubs losing millions a year on player development, such grooming is as likely as his "striking out Wade Boggs"). Kind of like Ebert and Siskel on baseball. Not for the casual fan, however, even though the in-depth, statistics-oriented discussions will appeal greatly to a fair number of hard-core ball lovers--the very ones who've made Bill James' annual Baseball Abstract such a huge success.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1989
ISBN: 671-67769-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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