Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

October 14, 2023

Three Nights in August by by Buzz Bissinger

Filed under: Nonfiction,Sports — Tags: , , — Randolph @ 1:05 pm

This is a detailed analysis of the three-game baseball series in August 2003 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. It is told through the eyes of Tony La Russa and delves into many details of baseball that are invisible to most fans. The author goes into Tony’s thoughts on the strategy for the game going beyond just the play-by-play thoughts. He describes the psychology of player selection, both the egos and goals of the players and the opposing lineup. He looks into the player rituals, revenge hit-by-pitcher strategies, if he can afford to hurt a player’s ego.

It does go into pitch-by-pitch commentary at times, discussing how the game and the psychology changes at each point, what options La Russa is considering and what counters he anticipates.

The writing is ok. But the author does repeatedly use bad metaphors to emphasize points at times, I’m not quite sure he knows what his target audience is, but it did kind of remind me of some baseball announcers I’ve heard.

Overall I enjoyed the book, it is a good read for the baseball enthusiast.

August 11, 2020

Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson

Filed under: History,Sports — Tags: , , — Randolph @ 4:58 pm

This book discusses the history of football (Am. soccer) through different cultures, following major figures and how they affected the game’s strategies. To that end, it certainly delivered what it promised, but I found it a bit lacking.

There are a lot of people discussed that I found it difficult to keep track of. Maybe in the U.S., we aren’t exposed to these people. At each evolutionary phase of the game, you have one or two significant people as the proponent of change, one or more opposing it, and any number of players on both sides of the pitch. For me, this made it a bit difficult to follow.

The book has a lot of images of the pitch of various games, identifying the players on both sides. Some of them are even diagramed suggesting strategies or tactics involved. This was a big selling point of the book for me, but the discussion never references the diagrams. It discusses the players, and you can figure out which image is involved, but it does not use the diagrams to further the discussion and understanding. Second, the diagrams are often a few pages removed from the discussion, so it requires flipping back and forth a lot. The diagrams on the different images are never referenced, so they only raise questions that are never answered.

I did not find the book particularly bad, just disappointing. If you have an interesting in football’s history, you will probably enjoy the book. Otherwise, I’m sure there are better available.

June 1, 2016

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

Filed under: History,Sports — Tags: , , — Randolph @ 7:29 am

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work by Ben Lindbergh

In this book, a couple of baseball podcasters with just a little management experience between them get the opportunity to manage a baseball team by the numbers. They offer to manage the team using statistics, similar to those used in the major leagues. The get the opportunity in a very minor league in Sanoma, California, the Sanoma Stompers.

In the course of their adventures, they learn that statistics aren’t everything. They get resistance from players and other managers who don’t want rules from outsiders. They learn about the politics of baseball, and that some things are more important than the statistics.

At times the books is outright funny, it is insightful, and you can learn a lot about the inside activities of baseball. It is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in the sport.

February 23, 2012

Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy by Frédéric Delavier, Jean-Pierre Clémenceau, Michael Gundill

Filed under: Sports — Randolph @ 3:00 pm

Delavier's Stretching Anatomy by Frédéric Delavier, Jean-Pierre Clémenceau, Michael Gundill

This book provides a large number of stretching exercises to work on flexibility, agility, and toning. I thought it interesting that the book was translated from French and only first published in 2010 (in Italy), given how many there are on stretching already.

The book gives a very strong first impression. Although in paper, it is on very good quality paper with a sewn binding. The images are of high quality, and the translation is done professionally, it is not readily apparent that the book is not originally done in English.

The book has three sections, an introduction to stretching that includes some basic anatomy, details of the stretches including anatomical drawings and varying difficulties, and last program suggestions.

The introduction talks about the value of stretching, how to breathe, risks, injuries, and such. It is the kind of stuff you find in a lot of exercise books.

The core of the book is in the stretch descriptions. Each stretch has a basic and advanced version. It starts with a basic description of the stretch and muscles. All of the stretches have a version that can be done alone, some include using a partner or some kind of equipment, such as a bench or ball. The stretches are described in good details so that it is clear what you are doing and what you are trying to accomplish. They are accompanied by anatomical drawings that show the targeted muscles and includes labels for the different muscles.

The last section describes exercise programs. There are three generic programs, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Then includes expert programs that are tailored for a variety of sports.

Overall, I was very impressed with the book. However, there is one glaring omission. That is anything about the authors and why they are qualified to write such a book. They are easy to find on the internet, though.

July 29, 2011

The Little Book of Coaching: Motivating People to Be Winners by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula

Filed under: Philosophy,Sports — Randolph @ 6:04 pm

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One  by Stanley Fish

Ken Blanchard and Don Shula teamed up to create a book on the basics of coaching. I was curious about this book and Don Shula’s contributions, but must say that I did enjoy them. The parallels they draw between football coaching and business are good, the principles presented apply equally to both areas.

The wisdom provided aren’t surprising. This is more of a primer or a book to reinforce good practices than it is a book to provide new insights or ideas. But it is a quick and enjoyable read.

June 21, 2011

The Athlete’s Clock by Thomas W. Rowland, MD

Filed under: Sports — Randolph @ 9:35 pm

The Reading Group Handbook by Rachel W. Jacobsohn

This book is about the human clock, about timing at a conscious and unconscious level. Dr. Rowland looks at a number of timing events from breath and footwork in running to throwing a football at a moving receiver. In each case, he looks at the data objectively and draws his conclusions.

During his analysis, he looks at biorhythms and different aspects of training to evaluate the best training times and methods, the best times for events, and whether it is better to save energy until later or expend it in a flash.

Early in the book, the author suggests that his own belief is that most of our timing is left to the subconscious, but he does a good job of presenting alternate views and not really pushing any conclusions. Later in the book, this issue seems to be lost. The last chapter, entitled Aging and Sports Performance, hardly touches on this theme at all, and felt quite different from the rest of the book. Overall, the book didn’t quite feel like it had a unifying theme.

In spite of the minor shortcomings, the book is full of interesting information. It would be a valuable read for anyone planning to enter training for the first time, and an interesting read for anyone interested in sports.

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