NONFICTION

Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game

HarperCollins. Oct. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062853615. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062853639. SPORTS
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The title of this volume is a little misleading, as former ESPN columnist Neyer (Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends) delivers anything but an overly analytical study. What you will find, in the spirit of Arnold Hano's A Day in the Bleachers and Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings, is an organic and highly entertaining color commentary of a single game: the Oakland Athletics vs. the Houston Astros on September 8, 2017. This was a competitive and exemplary game, on the way to an Astros World Series championship. Neyer's recounting offers a play-by-play of each inning, including statistics such as on-base percentage and wins above replacement, arguments for statistical probability and the case to be made for luck, underthinking, overthinking, and everything in between—all in the course of a single game. These anecdotes and musings are a reflection of the dynamic state of modern baseball firing on all cylinders and in prime form.
VERDICT Neyer, in a rare feat, captures the humor and humanity in the game, as well as what makes the revelry and rivalry of baseball so special.

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