BLOOPER: BALL SQUIRTS THROUGH BILLY BUCKNER'S LEGS.
BLUNDER: BILLY BUCKNER'S MANAGER LEFT HIM IN THE GAME.
Baseball bloopers are fun; they're funny, even. A pitcher slips on the mound and his pitch sails over the backstop. An infielder camps under a pop-up...and the ball lands ten feet away. An outfielder tosses a souvenir to a fan...but that was just the second out, and runners are circling the bases (and laughing). Without these moments, the highlight reels wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. Baseball blunders, however, can be tragic, and they will leave diehard fans asking why...why...why?
Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders does its best to answer all those whys, exploring the worst decisions and stupidest moments of managers, general managers, owners, and even commissioners. As he did in his Big Book of Baseball Lineups, Rob Neyer provides readers with a fascinating examination of baseball's rich history, this time through the lens of the game's sometimes hilarious, often depressing, and always perplexing blunders.
· Which ill-fated move cost the Chicago White Sox a great hitter and the 1919 World Series?
· What was Babe Ruth thinking when he became the first (and still the only) player to end a World Series by getting caught trying to steal?
· Did playing one-armed Pete Gray in 1945 cost the Browns a pennant?
· How did winning a coin toss lead to the Dodgers losing the National League pennant on Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'round the World"?
· How damaging was the Frank Robinson-for-Milt Pappas deal, really?
· Which of Red Sox manager Don Zimmer's mistakes in 1978 was the worst?
· Which Yankees trade was even worse than swapping Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps?
· What non-move cost Buck Showalter a job and gave Joe Torre the opportunity of a lifetime?
· Game 7, 2003 ALCS: Pedro winds up to throw his 123rd pitch...what were you thinking?
These are just a few of the legendary (and not-so-legendary) blunders that Neyer analyzes, always with an eye on what happened, why it happened, and how it changed the fickle course of history. And in separate chapters, Neyer also reviews some of the game's worst trades and draft picks and closely examines all the teams that fell just short of first place. Another in the series of Neyer's Big Books of baseball history, Baseball Blunders should win a place in every devoted fan's library.
The title says it all: by compiling lists of players in a baseball"lineup" format, the author, an ESPN.com columnist, manages to catalogue the game's all-time greats--and all-time bums. In the process, he also creates a kind of capsule history of every major league team. The secret is in the categories: along with the"All-Time" bests of each club, the book also includes such lineups as All-Rookie, All-Defensive, All-Traded Away (players who became great after their original team got rid of them), and All-Bust (players who never came close to living up to the hype). And because not even diehard fans can live on lineups alone, Neyer has also packed his pages with little sidebar essays, ranging from analytical (in which he explains how he chose Mickey Mantle over Joe DiMaggio as All-Time Yankees center fielder) to eye-opening (in which Reggie Jackson tells how his ASU coach warned him that the New York Mets would shy away from drafting him because he had a white girlfriend) to puzzling (Neyer suggests that the Chicago Cubs should have kept Rafael Palmeiro instead of Mark Grace to play first base--on the same page that he lists Grace as the Cubs' All-Time first baseman). It may be a book of lineups, but these colorful sidebars supply most of the real conversation pieces. This volume wouldn't be nearly as hard to put down without them.