Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Your 2008 Baseball Must-Read: Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends

Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends by Rob Neyer. Out TODAY.

Rob Neyer is the single most influential online-sports columnist of all time
. Probably because he was the first. At least: The Web's first Web-spawned sports columnist to find -- and grow -- a national audience. I'm not sure it is fully appreciated the level to which he opened doors for everyone who has found a job writing a column for a mainstream sports site online. Rob would never say anything; I don't mind saying it.

I met Rob in the fall of 1996, when I started working as an editor at ESPN.com (then "ESPNet SportsZone" -- yes, really). Rob had THE dream job: He was a full-fledged columnist.

Back then, he dabbled in more than just baseball -- although that was obviously his specialty. But I remember getting him to write some college hoops stuff for me, and it was amazing.

Rob has always grasped a couple of key concepts about writing for an online audience: (1) Be accessible, (2) Be timely, (3) Embrace numbers. Oh, and he's a really nice, genuine guy, too.

I am biased, but I would argue that Rob Neyer and his ESPN.com MLB editor at the time, David Schoenfield, did as much (or more) to advance the fans' acceptance of stats in baseball than "Moneyball." Because they were doing it on the sport's biggest platform -- ESPN.com.

Since then, Rob has continued to amaze me with his fantastic and insightful writing -- both for ESPN.com and in his "Big Book" series, which I have highly recommended since they started.

The latest was released today: Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends. It is a fantastic -- and controversial -- premise: Go back and examine the biggest (and not-so-biggest) legends in baseball history and actually determine if they were as legendary as their legend would have it.

I have had the book for a week or so now, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It's not something you read cover-to-cover, but something you can pick up and enjoy in short bursts. It is right up there with his other "Big Books" (plus his excellent book on pitchers with Bill James).

Even if I didn't consider Rob a friend, I would recommend this for any baseball fan -- avid or casual. (And, check out that Amazon price: $11?! That's a bargain.) Here's a link to his site.

-- D.S.

1 comment:

Biggs said...

Back when I was a straight-out-of-college 21-year old MBA student at a no-name university, I decided to take the chance and ask Rob Neyer for an interview that I had to do for a "leadership" class I was taking. I was a huge fan and read all his stuff on ESPN "Sportszone" at the time. I found his email address at the bottom of one of his articles, and shot him off an email asking him if he would be willing to do an interview for an MBA class. Unbelievably, he got back to me that very day and gave me an hour of his time on the phone later that week. I’ll always remember that and love him for it. Just a great guy. I own every one of his books because of that.