The idiot’s guide to writing a baseball book


So I’ve given some very mild thought lately to writing a baseball book. This is 1.5% inspired by the notion that I may have something interesting to say about baseball that will hold up for more than 500 words and 98.5% inspired by the realization that the half dozen memoirs and detective novels I’ve started and not gotten past page 50 are never, ever going to be published.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what sort of topic to cover. I wish I had seen this post from Luke Epplin at the Daily Beast called “The Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Baseball Book” before I wasted all that time, though. Because I think he may be on to something:

Never fear, there’s still a surefire path for securing a book deal. Simply pick a year—any year, really—and make a case for why that baseball season stands out from all others. Follow one of the templates below and you’ll ink a deal in no time.

You basically declare your year the best ever, link it with any number of social changes going on, gloop on the nostalgia and, voila, you got yourself a book.

Which, even though Epplin couches it somewhat cynically, ain’t a bad recipe to be honest. Cait Murphy’s “Crazy ’08” was a fantastic book. So too was Dan Epstein’s “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” about the 1970s.  I suppose there would be diminishing returns if people started to write about truly boring years in an effort to make them seem important — 1992 was a fine year, but really, not much awesome happened — or if people went over beaten-to-death years from the so-called Golden Era. But think about how much you know about, say, the 1914 season. If someone did a mashup of that and, I dunno, Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” I’d be all over it like white on rice.

Anyway, I’m not going to write a book like that. Takes too much research and I have the attention span and attention-to-detail of a gnat. But Epplin does have a point about the template. There are actually a handful of baseball book templates, I’ve found, that tend to get published, covering a great number of baseball books we all read and enjoy. The year thing happens to just be one of ’em.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.

Lineups for Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.

Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.


1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
5. Josh Reddick (L) RF
6. Joc Pederson (L) CF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chase Utley (L) 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP
1. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (R) LF
5. Javier Baez (S) 2B
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
7. Addison Russell (R) RF
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP