Title: Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning
Author: Baseball Prospectus
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It was a simple trade. The ramifications were monumental.
When the Boston Red Sox sent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in return for first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and shortstop Orlando Cabrera at the trade deadline in 2004, it spoke volumes. The Red Sox were not going to let their ballclub be run by sentiment. They were making moves to win.
As you may have heard, the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino that year. And the guys from Baseball Prospectus are ready to tell you how they did it and also refute several myths held deep by baseball fans.
Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning is an in-depth and interesting discussion into the moves general manager Theo Epstein made to build a championship-caliber club. Among the stories in this book are how Epstein picked up David Ortiz from the bottom of the scrap-heap; why Garciaparra was traded to shore up a weak infield defense; and how Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, could effectively be replaced by Matt Clement in the 2004-05 offseason.
Every chapter moves forward the narrative of the Red Sox’s 2004 season. They each discuss a certain point in the Red Sox season and are turned into an essay that makes several interesting points. These include, among several others, the following: that the Red Sox were habitual underperformers in the postseason (in ESPN terms, chokers), that lineups that strikeout a lot are bad, that there is no such thing as too much offense, and that teams play better after an emotionally uplifting brawl.
The BP guys do a great job providing statistical evidence for their arguments, while their writing style absolutely makes the book a good read. I give this book a rating of three balls. It will likely teach you something, no matter how long you have been around the game.
The AHP Rating System is based on a four ball system:
One Ball: Average. It has something to say but is nothing special.
Two Balls: Something men usually have - also means it’s a cut above average, and worth reading/owning.
Three Balls: Stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Four Balls: More than just what two men have when hanging out together, it means it is an exceptional book that truly earns a walk - straight to the local book store to get a copy.