What I perhaps have not made clear yet is how I love these books sooooooo much. So much that I’m willing to write “so” with seven Os like a 13-year-old girl would. So much that, yes, in fact, I do want to marry them (i.e. these books) even though, yes, that’s not allowed and, yes, I’m already married.
In any case, if the movie Old Yeller taught me anything, it’s that if you love something,
and it gets rabies, you have to shoot it you should share it with other people.
It’s no chore whatsoever to find examples of white-hot prose in the 1993 edition of the book, but these five haphazardly chosen selections will give you an idea.
Player: Vinny Castilla, Atlanta
Notable Thing: Things, actually. Plural. First of all, Castilla’s listed as a shortstop, which is surprising. Second of all, James writes, “[T]here is no indication that he’s going to be a major league hitter… Probably no future.” Castilla, of course, went on to post a 22.9 career WAR.
Player: Jack Daugherty, Texas
Notable Thing: Things. Plural. Again. First, is listed as “Alleged Outfielder” — which, that’s tough love. Second, here’s the comment in full:
It takes a long time for stats to even out, a dozen times longer than people think it does. Daugherty hit .300 in ’89 and ’90, has hit around .200 the last two years. He’s been a .260 hitter all along… so he’s a .260-hitting first baseman with no power, no speed, a brutal outfielder. Who the hell needs a guy like that?.
Damn, Bill James.
Player: Juan Gonzalez, Texas
Notable Thing: James: “There are three players in baseball history who have hit 600 home runs: Aaron, Ruth, and Willie Mays. Juan Gonzalez will be the fourth.” Two things about that. First, Gonzalez didn’t, in fact, 600 homers; he hit 434. The other thing is, Gonzalez did this in 1993, as a 23-year-old: 587 PA, .310/.368/.632 (.323 BABIP), 6.0 WAR. Unfortunately, he crossed the 600 PA threshold just three times in his career.
Player: Pat Listach, Milwaukee
Notable Thing: James: “He… takes the widest turns around the bases in the league… has been known to go from third to home by way of downtown Chicago.”
Player: Bob Melvin, Kansas City
Notable Thing: Whole profile:
Almost never played with the Royals despite .318 average, most of it against Randy Johnson. For some reason he can hit Randy… does the worst job of framing pitches I’ve ever seen. He’ll lunge at a ball two inches out of the strike zone, time after time, makes every pitch look tough. It’s one of those things you can’t believe nobody has told him to stop that.
Bonus Thing: For some reason, in Mo Vaughn’s profile, after Vaughn’s name and “Boston Red Sox,” James writes, in parentheses, “Boomer Jooner.” That sounds like “Boomer Sooner” (i.e. the University of Oklahoma fight song), but, so far as I can tell, that’s entirely irrelevant to Vaughn, who was born in Norwalk, Connecticut and played baseball at Seton Hall. Furthermore, the internet reveals exactly zero references to “Boomer Jooner.”
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.