These might be the 10 best sports books of the year. They might be my favorite sports books of the year. (Or maybe I simply appreciate them more because some of the authors read at my reading series.) Consider it a combination of all those things and an appropriate kick-off to my series of posts wrapping up the year in sports a.k.a. "Listmania '06."
Are they listed in order of preference? Not wanting to offend anyone (and not liking the cop-out "alphabetical" best-of lists), kind of.
Fantasyland, by Sam Walker. My favorite book of the year. The definitive book about fantasy sports layered behind one of the more entertaining first-person "experiential" stories about sports you'll ever read. Available in paperback in spring '07 -- don't miss it.
The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis. Michael Lewis could take a dump between two covers and call it an examination of the economic inefficiencies of bathrooms, and I'd pre-order it on Amazon.
The Echoing Green, by Joshua Prager. This redefined the "closely examine a moment in history" sports-book genre, about what was arguably the biggest moment in American sports history.
To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, by Will Blythe. I hate BOTH Duke AND
Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders: I've known Rob since 1996 and I think I've read almost everything he's ever written for ESPN.com and as a book author. I regularly read (and admire) writers who are the "anti-Quickie" (cogent and perceptive non-obvious ideas backed up by a combination of qualitative analysis and quantitative rigor), and he's one of them.
Baseball Between the Numbers, by the Baseball Prospectus team. Spouting their arguments (with credit, of course!) gives me cred at parties. What kind of parties, you ask? You don't want to know.
Feeding the Monster, by Seth Mnookin. Here's what's so remarkable about this book making this list. I fucking hate the Red Sox, and I loathe Red Sox Nation. Here's my dilemma: I remain man-crushy for Theo Epstein. So I spent my time reading this book daydreaming about Theo one day giving me a key to Fenway. OK, I'll settle for an email.
The Wages of Wins, by David Berri et al. This "Freakonomics meets Sports" might be the most controversial book of the year, which is why it makes the list – can you believe that the most controversial sports book of the year was about statistical analysis? (Actually, yes I can, because "Moneyball" had an even bigger impact a few years ago.) I'm hoping that in '07, Berri and John Hollinger settle the statistical scrum once and for all... in the Octagon, obviously.
Spalding's World Tour, by Mark Lamster. Reading series participant! AND he lives in
Baseball and Pro Football Prospectus: More Prospectus? I can't help myself. This plus "Baseball Between the Numbers" qualifies me to write "Fellating Prospectus 2007." (You publishers know you want it!) Not necessarily something you'd buy now, but when they are published before their respective seasons start, they're a must-have.
Comments Question: What were your favorite sports books published in 2006?