The complete title of this book is: “Rob Neyer’s Big Book Of Baseball Blunders – A Complete Guide To The Worst Decisions And Stupidest Moments In Baseball History”. That‘s a long title. The author is Rob Neyer (ESPN Baseball Analyst and author of “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups”). It was published in 2006.
So, what’s the definition of a blunder? For the purposes of this book, there are three requirements:
1. The blunder must be premeditated. Someone must have actually thought: “Hey THIS would be a good idea.”
2. A reasonable person might, AT THE TIME, have made a reasonable case for doing something else, and,
3. Ideally, the blunder must have led to some reasonably ill outcome.
There we have it: Premeditation. Contemporary questionability. Ill effects.
The author further explains: “…many of the blunders within were committed by GOOD teams and GOOD managers and GOOD general managers.”
This book is arranged chronologically, with the oldest stories first (1917), and the most recent stories last (2003).
In discussing the 1919 Black Sox aftermath, Neyer states: “…shortly after the Series ended in Cincinnati’s favor, Gandil was seen ‘with a new automobile, diamonds, and other marks of sudden affluence’.”
And I ask: These days, what professional athlete DOESN’T display that bling?
The further along I got in reading this book, the more I came to appreciate Rob Neyer’s knowledge and insight. Even allowing for 20/20 hindsight, and keeping in mind that many of the names mentioned in the book were, to me, only of the “I think I’ve heard that name somewhere before” degree of familiarity, I enjoyed reading the stories.
It’s amazing how little I followed baseball from 1969 until 2008.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “I’ve never seen morale so low on any club I’ve ever been on – majors or minors.”
- “It seems like a lot of ballplayers end their careers as Cubs.”
- “If there’s one rule by which every baseball executive should live, it’s this: ‘Don’t pay any attention to the wild-eyed advice offered by your local sports columnist’.”
- “Phil Wrigley wasn’t a great baseball man. But he did have some good ideas.”
- “A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says, ‘I was beaten.’ He does not say, ‘My men were beaten.’ Thus speaks a real man.”
- “The truth is that Lane didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He just wanted to do SOMETHING. Had to do something.”
- “…today most teams draft for ‘talent’ rather than ‘need’.”
- “There are any number of lessons that may be learned from studying the draft, and one of the most important is: ‘Don’t base draft decisions on the current state of your major-league roster’.”
- “Even if your draft pick doesn’t work out, you’ll often be able to find a trading partner who places a high value on the potential that you once saw.”
- “It’s not smart to sign long-term contracts.”
- “The only thing that kept this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major league level.”
There is another book begging to be written by Rob Neyer. The title of this one would be: “The Chicago Cubs in the New Millennium (2000-2010)”. Would that constitute an entire decade of blunders? I don’t know. But I’d like to read Mr. Neyer’s analysis.
Maybe the Cubs should hire Rob Neyer to help with their current “reinvention” efforts. It would be similar to the Red Sox enlisting the help of Bill James to provide guidance on their new course. The Cubs could do a lot worse than Rob Neyer.
I enjoyed reading Rob Neyer’s Big Book Of Baseball Blunders. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in baseball or in big business.