Home MLB Offseason: Plenty to write and read about

Offseason: Plenty to write and read about

by Matt Smith

After a brief post-World Series breather, baseball is back to keeping hold of my attention and taking up most of my spare time. Which is just how I like it.

Calling it an offseason in MLB doesn’t really seem accurate.  It’s the no-game season; that’s the only thing that we’re missing.  Admittedly, the games are the best and most important part, but the point is there is still an enormous amount of stories and events to keep us occupied.

That’s applicable as a baseball fan first and foremost, but also as the editor and main writer here at BaseballGB.  There is no shortage of things to write about.

On MLB alone, now is a great time to reflect on the engrossing season that we have just enjoyed.  I’ll be doing my division-by-division season review, keeping my promise of looking back at our predictions to see how right, or in my case wrong, we were.  Player transactions and off-the-field developments, not least the ongoing Collective Bargaining Discussions, will also give us plenty to discuss.

There is of course a wonderful wide world of baseball out there beyond MLB that deserves our attention, including the areas that can provide those of us with ballgame withdrawal symptoms a chance to follow games over the winter months. 

Britain doesn’t quite offer that, but it will be the source of plenty of discussion around future developments in the sport on those shores.  The news today on BaseballSoftballUK about a major baseball and softball facility development project at Farnham Park near Slough is one of many reasons to be optimistic for 2012 and beyond.  There’s plenty of work to do to move the sport forward, and it’s not all going to be easy, but it should be well worth the effort.

And the relative lack of ballgames does have one upside: extra time to catch up on some baseball reading. 

Our baseball book reviews have been a popular offseason feature in previous years and I’m going to be adding to our collection of reviews throughout the winter months.

One book that I always look forward to reading each year is the Hardball Times Baseball Annual.  Details of the 2012 edition were released just over a week ago and they show that it will be cram-packed with the type of thought-provoking and entertaining articles that the Annual has become known for.  I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy as soon as possible and aim to get a review up in good time for the Christmas shopping market, as it’s exactly the sort of book that a baseball fan would enjoy receiving and reading over the festive period.

I have a few books on my shelf that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. 

One is Josh Chetywnd’s ‘Secret History of Balls’, which isn’t specifically about baseball but is an enjoyable book to dip into.  Again, that’s another one that would be a welcome addition to someone’s Christmas list.  John Thorn’s ‘Baseball in the Garden of Eden’ has been sat on my shelf for a couple of months waiting to be read.  I couldn’t help but read a few sections, but I wanted to leave it to one side until I could give it the attention it deserves.  I’m looking forward to finally launching into it over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll also be flicking through ‘Baseball: An Illustrated History’ by Geoffrey C Ward.  This is the book that accompanies the Ken Burns ‘Baseball’ documentary series.  An updated paperback version was released last September to coincide with the ‘Tenth Inning’ part of the documentary. 

It undoubtedly falls in the ‘coffee table book’ category as it’s a big, heavy book and it’s not cheap (Amazon.co.uk has it priced at £22.47 at time of writing), but if someone treats you to it, or you treat yourself, it will be worth the investment.  I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve picked it off the bookshelf and whiled away half an hour reading about different periods in MLB history, or simply admiring the many wonderful photographs.

On top of those books waiting to be reviewed, I have several more that are on my list once funds allow (or Santa offers a helping hand). 

I’ll be acting on Joe Gray’s recommendation for Harvey Sahker’s Blokes of Summer, while I’m sure I’ll love Craig Robinson’s Flip Flop Fly Ball book as I’m regularly browsing his excellent website.

I’m partial to a baseball novel and ‘The Art of Fielding: A Novel’ by Chad Harbach has been receiving some impressive reviews, so I’ll have to get hold of a copy of that.  I also haven’t yet got around to picking up a copy of The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First by Jonah Keri.

So those books are on my list.  If you have any recommendations for others that aren’t listed above, or I haven’t yet reviewed, then please do pass them on via the Comments section.

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