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Men at Work

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,315 ratings  ·  160 reviews
Sports Research Baseball
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 15th 1991 by HarperPB (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,315 ratings  ·  160 reviews


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Ted
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana, games, baseball
There’s a lot of stuff goes on.
Tony LaRussa


This is a TOP TEN book in my baseball library.
Availability. 2010 edition, paperback, Kindle.
Type. THE GAME
Use. READ [EH]

_explanation_

This book, published more than twenty-five years ago (1990) by a noted columnist (but not a sports columnist) is a classic description of how baseball is played. (The author is noted for his conservative political and social commentary in his syndicated column. I'm not holding that against him.

George Will is a polished writer, and one of the joys of this book is the very professional style that Will displays throu[LaRussa
...more
Beth
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally seen on my book blog

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.


Before I dive into the review of the book, I should mention that this is not a book for someone that isn’t already an active fan of baseball. This is not a book to read if you are trying to learn about baseball. You will get utterly confused by the baseball language in the book and will probably drop it. I had to read it slower than I would normally so I could take time to picture/>Baseball,
...more
Brad Lyerla
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I meant to read MEN AT WORK 20 years ago, but got around to it only recently. It is excellent notwithstanding that it shows a tiny bit of age. Will is a conservative pundit of great influence today. But back when this book was written in the late 80s, he was widely regarded as the most influential journalist in America. Political journalism then was still a dignified craft. It caught me by surprise when Will published a major baseball book in 1990.

If you have read any of Will’s stuff, the
...more
John
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love baseball, or want to know why it holds the imagination of a country
Shelves: baseball
A wonderful book full of vignettes. Stories of respect and love. In baseball there are no idle moments.

"There is a myth of the "natural athlete" whose effortless excellence is a kind of spontaneous blooming. That myth is false and pernicious. It dilutes the emulative value of superior performers. It does so by discounting the extent to which character counts in sport. The myth is especially damaging to blacks. Sport has become an especially important arena of excellence-and a realm of upward mo
...more
Jim
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sport, non-fiction
Men at Work is a brilliant distillation of the insights of several brilliant Baseball Men who Work very well indeed.
As one might expect of the estimable Mr. Will, Men At Work is faintly scholarly in tone - but do not let that put you off - if the mechanics of baseball is of interest, this book is for you.

An Example: Tony La Russa outlines nine basic ways to run the double steal - and the defense's proper response to them all. I had no idea! We didn't get this in Little League (on
...more
Kay
Oct 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sports
I borrowed it from a friend and slowed down immediately. I found it while cleaning one day and decided I needed to finish it. My goal was to finish it during playoffs and the World Series. I made it!
This book is 45% statistics, 45% technical, and 10% history of baseball. As a baseball fan who just enjoys the game for the game itself, I bogged down with all the stats and technical stuff. I enjoyed a small section of the book and now know why the NY Yankees uniforms have stripes and where the 7th
...more
Mike
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
George Will’s baseball classic Men at Work has become somewhat dated since it was written in 1990, which only shows how much the game has changed in the last 29 years. Will writes of his concern that baseball is breeding a generation of pitchers who will develop arm problems from throwing too many curve balls and never develop good fastballs. He writes about the increased importance of speed and stolen bases and the decreased reliance on home runs. The book was written before a strike wiped out ...more
Joe Wentzler
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Baseball is really cool. Learning history about baseball is cool. Checking the stats is really cool. Overall, this book sounds good to read.
Bart
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Intelligent baseball fans
George Will's book on baseball was quite obviously the blueprint for Michael Lewis' later effort, Moneyball.

The two books compare like so: If chess is a simple game of complicated moves and checkers is a complicated game of simple moves, Men at Work is a complicated book about a simple game while Moneyball is a simple book about a complicated game.

George Will, as a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist at the Washington Post, is arguably opinion's most authoritative voice; wherever a person falls along the
...more
Erik
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is quite literally “inside baseball”. In in-depth interviews with Tony LaRussa, Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. the author, conservative columnist George F. Will, uncovers details of managing, pitching, hitting and fielding respectively. As can be deduced from the aforementioned list of names this book is now almost a quarter of a century old. It captures major league baseball on the cusp of the steroid era. The chapter on Tony LaRussa, written when he was manager of the ...more
Stan
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Actually paperback, not ebook, fwiw.) George Will says he set out to write the book about baseball that he had tried unsuccessfully to find, and he presents us with a remarkable collection of baseball statistics and anecdotes, filtered through the unique perspectives of an outstanding manager (Tony La Russa), hitter (Tony Gwynn), fielder (Cal Ripken, Jr.), and pitcher (Orel Hershiser). Only occasionally does his wonderful writing lapse into dry laundry lists of stats. The unifying theme is that ...more
Dick Peterson
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Will is generally considered to be somewhat of a stuffed shirt. He is a well respected columnist and journalist, good enough to possess a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. To many it is surprising that such a serious conservative voice in the noise we call politics is a devoted fan of America’s Pastime. There are two dimensions that are evident in George Will, lover of baseball … the kid who fell for the game and the passionate student of its mechanics, nuances, strategies, and numbers. Even ...more
Tom Gase
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and can't believe I hadn't read this book years ago since it has sections on three of my some of my favorite players of all time in Cal Ripken, Tony Gywnn and Orel Hershiser. The section on Tony LaRussa is also very interesting. Really took me back to the 1988 and 89 seasons when both the Dodgers and A's were very good. I recommend this book to only the die-hard baseball fans, and not fans of the history of the game. This is a book on how the game is played. Good stuff.
Oliver Bateman
Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A serene, magisterial work that, far from aging into irrelevance, has become a timeless classic. Will anticipates Moneyball with his understanding of statistics, but he blends this knowledge with masterful literary skill and a great appreciation for the work that the four men he profiled (as well as the countless others he interviewed) do. Men at Work is on a par with Roger Angell's best offerings--and is perhaps better still, given its narrative coherence.
Alan
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
Ninety percent of people who call themselves baseball fans would think that this book is too detailed, but I loved it.
Michael
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
It’s probably unfair to review a book 30 years after it is written, but I had long been interested in reading Will’s examination of the craft of baseball. Alas, while baseball may be a timeless sport, Will’s book is very much a book of its time, and it is very dated in 2019.

The concept was clever. Examine the principal elements of baseball, managerial strategy, pitching, hitting and fielding, by a close study of some of baseball’s finest - Tony LaRussa, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, an
...more
Dave
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
FINALLY. I don’t remember when I got it or when I started it, but I finished it. This is a throwback now to a time when I was wedged in between my baseball card collecting days and the end of my playing days. AstroTurf still existed as did the Coliseum style parks before the retro era parks hit full force and the steroid era came and “went”. Sabrmetrics were in its infancy as statistics were still being rendered for hitting in terms of runs, HRs and BA and pitchers were still being measured via ...more
Kathleen
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was the first book about baseball I ever owned. A pretty big book for an 11 year old girl who had just discovered the game in 1989. It was time to reread it, and while enjoyable, it hasn't aged well - like many sports books in general.

The premise is great, an in depth look at 4 aspects of baseball told through the eyes of 4 key players. Managing (Tony La Russa), hitting (Tony Gwyn), pitching (Orel Hershiser), and Defense (Cal Ripken Jr). And while the information about how they
...more
Jim
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Baseball Fans
Finally finished. I started and stopped this book so many times. I like George Will when I watched him on the political shows. He is, however, very high brow and feels the need to show it based on his word choice. Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot of new words but the book could have read more smoothly. Additionally, the writing is very ADD when trying to make points. The stats are nice but could have been used in a more flowing manner.

May not be the best first (or second) book to
...more
John
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very well-written salute to baseball and the men who play it. The forward added in 2009 was one of the best aspects of the book.

The biggest problem with the book, at least for me, was that it was written during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Nearly three decades have passed and the game has changed, so some of it seems quite dated. But baseball has its timeless aspects and and indeed aspects of the game itself have not changed. For a good snapshot of a time period, and also with wonder
...more
Stephen
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A nice, warm tribute to America's favorite pastime. There are some great tidbits of baseball trivia and some fun stories about the game's history, but a lot of the book is a behind-the-scenes look at how each different baseball discipline approaches the game. Will talks to a manager (Tony La Russa), a pitcher (Orel Hershiser), a hitter (Tony Gwynn), and a strong defender (Cal Ripken, Jr) about all the tiny details they have mastered to be the tops of their particular crafts.

A fun rea
...more
Peter Hanson
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is excellent, with good insight and history on managing, pitching, hitting and fielding. There are lots of good stories and anecdotes, with some serious philosophical discussions about the designated hitter, aluminum bats, high salaries. Sometimes there's more detail than I wanted. Overall this is one of the best sports books I've read.
Dianne Danielson
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Witty and informative. I gave it a "3" because I sometimes got lost in the prodigious stats, and many times he referred to terms I didn't know the meaning of because I'm new to baseball. But overall, a worthwhile read.
Ryan
Sep 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: life-s-too-short
Def hard to review this so long after its been out. Its way too specific to the late 80s (for as far as I got) instead of making more generalized statements. It's just very dated and very very specific and technical.
Richard Munro
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
great book for baseball fans
Paul Willweber
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
As always, Will is a good writer and gets you to think. An enjoyable look at what makes the best the best and the details of the game.
Drew
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
America's game of the 20th century.
Well crafted by a wonderful mind.
Lesley
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book about the mechanics and art of playing baseball. (The coolest book with the NERDIEST cover. *snort* )
Paul Shortell
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Actually 3.5 stars. I think with all the changes in baseball this book is a bit dated, but still enjoyable. Would have liked more anecdotes to offset all of the inside baseball info.
Ben
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
The insight from baseball professionals was interesting, but the lofty commentary from the author was extremely tiresome
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George Frederick Will is an American newspaper columnist, journalist, and author. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winner best known for his conservative commentary on politics. By the mid 1980s the Wall Street Journal reported he was "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America," in a league with Walter Lippmann (1899–1975).

Will served as an editor for National Review from 1972 to 1978. He joined the Wash
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“Sport, they said, is morally serious because mankind’s noblest aim is the loving contemplation of worthy things, such as beauty and courage. By witnessing physical grace, the soul comes to understand and love beauty. Seeing people compete courageously and fairly helps emancipate the individual by educating his passions.” 1 likes
“A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry. A society in which the capacity for warm appreciation of excellence atrophies will find that its capacity for excellence diminishes. Happiness, too, diminishes as the appreciation of excellence diminishes. That is no small loss, least of all to a nation in which the pursuit of happiness was endorsed in the founding moment.” 0 likes
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