Most American bibliophiles are familiar with Michael Lewis's highly acclaimed Moneyball, a behind-the-scenes look at the Oakland Athletics' ball club and enigmatic General Manager Billy Beane. Garnering a reputation as "the baseball book that you need even if you aren't a baseball fan," the refined writing style and sumptuous wordsmithing gained much attention outside of baseball circles.
At first glance, Mind Game - an anthology of essays on the successful 2004 Boston Red Sox written by the staff writers of the popular baseball site Baseball Prospectus - appears to be similar. After all, its ambitious subtitle ("How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning") could easily be copy-pasted onto the Moneyball cover: provided the omission of the World Series part. However, the book is anything but Moneyball: Redux.
Whereas its famous predecessor was the "baseball book everyone should own," this collaboration (I'm trying to avoid calling it a proper 'book' since each chapter covers a different topic and was produced by a different writer) is not for everyone. Filled to the brim with complex statistics and hard-core baseball analyses of the World Champions from New England, Mind Game would probably be a questionable pickup for anybody "casual fan" level or lower.
B.P. is known for its ingenious work with statistics, so it's not literary polish that is a selling point here. The verbiage itself leaves much to be desired; it is clear from the outset the Baseball Prospectus authors are men of baseball first and men of the ink and paper a distant second. Sentence efficiency and stylistic issues are thrown by the wayside to accommodate the inner circles of baseball fans. Editor Steven Goldman could have done a much better job linking the stories together and improving overall flow, and the lack of attention in this area results in disjointed reading that exposes Mind Game for what it really is - a series of articles that, while indeed interesting and all focusing on one team, seem to have accidentally found their way into one volume with no thought to order or continuity.