FanGraphs Book Club – The Only Rule Is It Has To Work

This fabulous collaborative effort from Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller was a New York Times bestseller.

Hi everyone! Welcome to the inaugural live chat of the FanGraphs Book Club! We’ll get started at 9 pm, and Ben and Sam will join us at 9:30. That’ll give us all 30 minutes to talk about the book amongst ourselves, and line up some really great questions for them. So, I would say, don’t put questions in for them now, let’s save those until they log on to the chat.

I hope you all are as excited as I am to talk baseball books! As a reminder, if you want to join our Facebook Group you can do so here.

Post chat addition:
I’ve already put a poll for next month. Find that poll here.

Also, a little promo for those of you in the Boston area — Keith Law will be coming to my bookstore on Saturday. Come on over, it’s always great to meet readers in person!

Chat transcript below!

9:01
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

9:01
Paul Swydan: So excited to be back at FanGraphs talking baseball. I’m very eager to hear what you guys want to talk about tonight.

9:01
Abe: I guess this means that I have 3 hours to read the book!

9:02
Paul Swydan: Too late! No, just kidding. It’s actually totally fine if you didn’t read the book, or if you started it but didn’t finish. This isn’t a test or anything.

9:02
RyanW: This is one of a handful of books I’ve reread in the last 5yrs. This isn’t a question, just wanted to comment on how lovely and well-written this book is

9:03
Paul Swydan: I have to agree. Going back through my review copy just now, I was looking at pages I had dog-eared, and was immediately getting sucked back in.

9:03
Mike Mort: I read the book a second time through, i picked up so much more

9:04
Paul Swydan: Mike, that’s really interesting. What did you pick up the second time as opposed to the first?

9:05
Paul Swydan: One of the things that struck me just a few minutes ago as I was reading again was how great the dialogue was. I especially liked that they used text message chains, rather than just narrating text messages. It was helpful to break up the text with those illustrations.

9:06
Mark: Loved the book! I could 100% see this being a movie. It’s not a super easy topic to keep interesting, with some pretty stat-heavy sections, but it flowed very well.

9:08
Paul Swydan: I would tend to agree. I would think the underdog mentality of the story would help a lot. I could see some playing Paul Hvozdovic and talking like they do in the book about going from 9 promotions away from the majors to 10. That stuff really resonates.

9:08
Mark Steubinger: I agree with that. Seeing the full text conversations or even emails sent back and forth between Ben and Sam and Theo/Feh/Yoshi worked really well.

9:08
Paul Swydan: Yeah, it helped keep the pace moving, which is always a plus in *any* non-fiction book.

9:08
Mike Mort: a lot more of the names and characters, i was able to focus more on the reasoning than results, it may have just been me but i found it was a lot easier to realize what they were trying because i was aware of the result

9:09
Paul Swydan: Right, you weren’t anxiously zooming through to see what happened. That makes sense. There was definitely a sense of that for me the first time, especially with guys like Taylor Eads.

9:10
Paul Swydan:

Do you think the book would make a good movie?

Yes! Better than Moneyball (26.0% | 6 votes)
 
I could see it (56.5% | 13 votes)
 
Maybe? (13.0% | 3 votes)
 
Doubtful (4.3% | 1 vote)
 
Definitely not (0% | 0 votes)
 

Total Votes: 23
9:12
Paul Swydan: Another thing that personally was a lot of fun for me skimming through tonight were the passages that mention John Choiniere. When I read the book initially, I didn’t really know him. Now, I’ve met him, and he’s moved full-time into baseball with the Mariners, which makes the parts with him seem richer in retrospect.

9:12
Jeff: Quite frankly, I haven’t had a chance to read through it a second time.  I keep loaning it out to anyone I know with even a passing interest in baseball or analytics in general!

9:12
Paul Swydan: I didn’t have a chance to read it a second time either, but going through it tonight, so many of the passages came back to me so clearly, which was a lot of fun.

9:13
Paul Swydan: One passage that really hit home for me was the part in the “Evidences” chapter about pop times. Sam explained it in such a way that it really didn’t sound nerdy at all.

9:14
Michelle: I didn’t have a chance to re-read, but I read it twice right after it came out. A really stellar book. I would say I’d love for it to be a movie, but I’m sure they couldn’t do it justice.

9:15
Paul Swydan: It’d really depend on who they chose to focus on, right? You could choose to focus on the back and forth between Ben and Sam the way the book does, but you could also take it from the point of view of several of the players/team personnel as well.

9:16
Paul Swydan: The thing that I think would be tough is working in all the different characters. Even in a movie with an ensemble cast like “Major League,” it still boils down to 5-6 main characters. I don’t know that you could work THIS book like that. What do you guys think?

9:16
Mel Roberts: The analytics descriptions were on point the whole way through, I was really impressed. Made it a much more approachable read.

9:17
Paul Swydan: Agreed. I think the way they did those – relying on words rather than statistical names/jargon – will allow the book to age better.

9:17
Mark Steubinger: It would almost work better as a Netflix/HBO series where each episode could give a different perspective. Or they could bounce between characters, like GoT style.

9:17
Paul Swydan: Oh that’s a really cool idea. Or maybe you could make it a two-season series, and one season is the Ben season and one is the Sam season.

9:17
Mike Mort: I found that i didn’t dislike Fay as much the second time through too, didn’t find him to be the villain i though of him as the first time through…. just a guy who didn’t trust anything he really didn’t feel comfortable with

9:18
Paul Swydan: Yeah I bet I’d feel the same way. It is interesting the way they thank him in the acknowledgments.

9:19
Paul Swydan: “Fehlandt Lentini and Takashi Miyoshi let us onto their turf and, on balance, both were open, supportive, and great to be around.”

9:19
Paul Swydan: At some points in the book, that sentence would be hard to believe.

9:19
Jeff: It was also pretty nifty to listen to the post-book release Effectively Wild podcasts that related to the book.  Here’s one with

9:19
Jeff: …podcast with Theo, the GM

9:20
Paul Swydan: Yeah, sadly, I’ve never really been a regular EW listener. I bet the whole time from start to finish the pod was really cool to hear.

9:20
Mike Mort: Speaking on moneyball before the VIPs hop in, when do we vote for next book?

9:21
Paul Swydan: So, yeah, we should talk about that. Let me do a quick poll here.

9:22
Paul Swydan:

What should the scope be for the next book we read?

Choose just from the top options from the last vote (42.8% | 6 votes)
 
Open the floor completely again (28.5% | 4 votes)
 
Not democratic – Paul just picks (28.5% | 4 votes)
 
Other? (say in comments) (0% | 0 votes)
 

Total Votes: 14
9:22
Paul Swydan: And here’s one more poll!

9:22
Paul Swydan:

Would the book make a better movie or HBO-style TV show?

Movie (33.3% | 5 votes)
 
TV show (66.6% | 10 votes)
 
I can’t decide!!! (0% | 0 votes)
 
Neither (0% | 0 votes)
 

Total Votes: 15
9:23
Mike Mort: im actually just about to write that up for the EW Wiki

9:23
Paul Swydan: Cool!

9:23
Mike Mort: it was cool hearing and doing the article where the they actually got the idea for doing it, just hearing Ben partially mentally check out of the interview, you can almost hear him planning it out in his head.

9:23
Paul Swydan: Haha, yeah, I do that sometimes too, and then people look at me funny. Sorry, I was thinking!

9:24
Mark Steubinger: I see Paul is the sole person voting for himself to have total control over the next book choice hahaha

9:24
Paul Swydan: Hahaha, it wasn’t me I swear

9:25
Michelle: I thought the Facebook group had said it was going to Veeck as in Wreck, but I’m up for whatever.

9:25
Paul Swydan: I honestly don’t see that anywhere?

9:26
Paul Swydan: Who would you say were your favorite people in the book – not Ben and Sam, but other people?

9:26
Michelle: Just kidding! That was the EW book club.

9:27
Paul Swydan: Oh! Phew.

9:29
Michelle: I’m a year removed, but I remember really liking Tim Livingston, though I don’t remember why.

9:29
Paul Swydan: Definitely. He was great as the radio guy, and just all-around do everything kind of person.

9:29
Mike Mort: EW has a book club too

9:29
Paul Swydan: I honestly did not know this.

9:29
Mark Steubinger: Paul Hvozdovic, Sean Conroy, and Isaac Wenrich stick with me as the most notable players

9:30
Paul Swydan: I was going to say Conroy and Yoshi myself. And Theo Fightmaster.

9:30
Jeff: Stompers GM Theo Fightmaster was a really great person. To me, he was really the thread that connected Sam and Ben to the team.  He was the transitional thread that helped them negotiate the “real” baseball world.

9:30
Mike Mort: paul and Sean for sure

9:31
Paul Swydan: Very cool. Well, Ben and Sam should be here any minute. There’s a few questions in the queue for them already, but what other questions do you guys have for them?

9:31
Chris : I really enjoyed the desperation and hope of the players who were so far removed from making the major leagues.

9:32
Paul Swydan: For sure. It was all pretty admirable. I couldn’t say that I’d be doing something differently if I had been good enough to play at that level.

9:32
Mark Steubinger: Matt Chavez from the Pacifics was also pretty notable. He’s probably the closest thing in the book to a villain. I liked seeing his ridiculous splits versus the Stompers compared to the other two teams.

9:32
Paul Swydan: Yes! Between him and Feh, there was definitely constant drama.

9:33
Sam: I am here!

9:33
Paul Swydan: Hey Sam!

9:33
Sam: Hello! Paul.

9:33
Sam: Hello, everybody

9:34
Michelle: Hi Sam! The EW faithful miss you!

9:34
Baber: Hello, Sam!

9:34
Sam: I saw the conversation above about movie, TV show, etc, and I just want to note that when I was thinking, during spring training, what sort of book this would be, one of the models that sort of came to mind was Orange Is The New Black.

9:34
Ben Lindbergh: Hi! I’m here too.

9:35
Sam: And, once the thing was done, it seemed like the best way to get it on a screen would be as a TV show, sorta like that, but maybe not. I thought the main perspective would have to be Yoshi’s.

9:35
Sam: Or Sean’s

9:35
Sam: Anyway, Ben is here, too! Hi, Ben.

9:35
Paul Swydan: Yes I think Orange is the New Black is a good model.

9:35
Paul Swydan: Hi Ben!

9:35
Klubot3000: Awesome work, Ben and Sam! Helluva book. I played for the coach you talked to about being your manager, and can say he’s one of the best coaches I’d ever had. I think the book would have been pretty different (not in a bad way) had you guys hired him in the beginning.

9:36
Paul Swydan: Is this something you guys ever think about?

9:36
Sam: Klubot3000– are you talking about the Sonoma St. coach, or the guy from Cal Berkeley who was pals w/ Theo, or somebody else I’m forgetting about?

9:37
Ben Lindbergh: I wish we had! Mostly. I’m torn. At the time, it was torture when things weren’t working out, and Sam and I had soul-searching discussions about whether we were screwing everything up and whether there would be a book at all. In retrospect, the book was better because of all of that stuff.

9:37
Sam: Yeah, I’m happy w/ the managers we had. We would have screwed things up with a different manager, too, just in a different and maybe more boring way.

9:37
Ben Lindbergh: So there’s part of me that wishes that book had come closer to what we intended for it to be, but there’s another part of me that thinks that book would’ve been boring.

9:38
Klubot3000: A good friend of mine is a D1 college coach, and it’s been fascinating talking with him about recruiting. I’ve long wondered if there was a similar way to aggregate data at the HS level like you guys did at the college level for recruiting. Any suggestions for tackling that problem to find under-the-radar recruits to college?

9:38
Paul Swydan: Another one from Klubot3000. I assume he’s talking about the same coach.

9:38
Sam: Honestly, I’m really glad I know Feh. Part of the goal was to understand ballplayers, and in a lot of ways he’s the archetype for a certain kind of very common ballplayer. And it was fun watching him play! He could ball out!

9:39
Sam: So, no, glad we hired him.

9:39
Ben Lindbergh: I know that more and more high-school kids are playing in showcases that have tracking systems set up. So if you can get your hands on that data and analyze it better than other schools, I assume there’s some opportunity there.

9:40
Sam: Plus that dude talked a LOT and when you’re trying to write 120,000 words loaded with ballplayer dialogue, you’re really grateful for the guys who just have no filter

9:40
Paul Swydan: Hahaha. #content

9:40
Sam: I’m just going to keep answering that question for the entirety of this chat

9:40
Ben Lindbergh: One of the things I’ve learned while working on my next book is that there are a lot of college programs that already operate a lot like MLB baseball operations departments. Those teams are mainly making changes to improve their in-game management and player development, but they’re also sort of using them to decide which recruits to target.

9:41
Mark Steubinger: Have you guys talked to Feh at all since the events of the book? The last thing that was said about him was the texts he sent after Taylor’s first game or two.

9:41
Paul Swydan: I’ve always wondered this too.

9:41
Ben Lindbergh: I have not

9:41
Ben Lindbergh: I think we’re all going to be in the same documentary on ESPN soon? But Feh and Sam and I recorded our stuff for that separately

9:42
Sam: Nope. He was on a podcast talking about the book, so I heard that, but otherwise I haven’t talked to him since the night he got fired, in the middle of Sonoma’s square, at about 3 a.m, after both of us had spent the evening/early morning in the same bars.

9:42
Paul Swydan: Documentary?

9:43
Mike Mort: wait an ESPN doc about it, thats awesome

9:43
Ben Lindbergh: Not just about us or the book

9:43
Paul Swydan: Still though, that’s pretty cool.

9:43
Paul Swydan: Speaking of:

9:43
Michelle: Sam,
Ben is working on a new book. Doesn’t have to be that, but do you have any ongoing projects? (Doesn’t have to be limited to writing).

9:43
Sam: Whenever I read a passage in the book where we’re fighting, I think, “yup, he would describe this exactly the same, same words, same dialogue, except in his book he’d be the hero.” it’s hard to be in somebody else’s book.

9:43
Ben Lindbergh: There’s some ESPN Films series about (quoting an email here) “the frontiers of sports training, technology, recovery and more.” The Stompers story is part of that. We should probably ask when it’s coming out.

9:44
Sam: the subtle ways that approval is written

9:44
Sam: I am not working on a new book, nor any ongoing projects. I’m tired all the time.

9:45
Mike Mort: Looking back do one you you wish you had taken the manager reigns after feh was let go? if you did why didnt you?

9:45
Sam: I have maybe one or two things I’d like to do sometime, and I think they’d be fun, but who knows.

9:45
Sam: I think i wish we did

9:46
Sam: Yeah, I definitely wish we did.

9:47
Ben Lindbergh: I’ve probably never wanted anything more than I wanted Theo or Sam to take over as manager

9:47
Baber: Silly question, but actually very serious: if you had become the manager, would you have thrown a Lou Piniella-esque fit?

9:48
Sam: Well, shoot. I say that, but Yoshi had an actual future in the game, and he took that job and turned it into his dream–working in the Twins organization. (Not that specific a dream, but, you know, working for a big-league franchise.) It would have been antithetical to all the lessons we learned to get in the way of somebody with talent chasing a dream. SOOOOO, for the book, I wish we did; for my own satisfaction and curiosity, I wish we did; for the team, I actually sort of wish we did; for Taylor Eads, I wish we did; but I think it would have been evil and I’m glad we didn’t.

9:48
Ben Lindbergh: I think Yoshi was receptive enough to our input that that part of the book worked out well, and in a sense it would have been a failure if the only way we could be heard was to fire everyone who was in our way

9:48
Ben Lindbergh: So I think I’m OK with the way it worked out

9:48
Ben Lindbergh: But yes, for Taylor Eads, I wish we did. I still sorta think he was good.

9:49
Sam: I… think I actually visualized this, the argument with the umpire thing, and tried to envision how I would act. I think I’d have gotten there, yes. Big blow up, lots of yelling, hopefully sort of poetic, ending in a suspension.

9:49
Sam: I still think Taylor Eads was good

9:49
Paul Swydan: Hopefully it would have gone like this:

9:49
Sam: It wouldn’t surprise me if, in an alternate universe, Taylor came back and was the secondbest hitter in the Pacific Association in 2016

9:49
Ben Lindbergh: I would’ve waited three hours after the game and then sent the umpire a somewhat critical email

9:50
Sam: I would’ve done that, too, at first

9:50
Matt Ely: Were you guys ever interested in narrating the audiobook? Was that presented as an option?

9:50
Sam: but by the third or fourth week I’d get there

9:50
Sam: I was trying to remember the answer to this. Ben and I talked about it and decided not to (mostly I was opposed, I think), but I can’t remember if we decided not to before it was ever raised as a possibility. I don’t know if we could have done it or not.

9:51
Sam: I don’t think we would have done well. It would have been good for the podcast listeners, but not for the larger world of MILLIONS of readers we hoped to have. And a lot of work. But mostly I was skeptical we’d do it well.

9:51
Sam: (This is quite possibly another thing I was wrong about because I was too passive to step into the ring)

9:52
Ben Lindbergh: Yeah, I wanted to, just to say we’d done it. I figured our built-in audience would like it, but I wasn’t sure the rest of the audience would

9:52
Sam: oh, also,

9:52
Sam: I didn’t want to have to do Feh’s voice. I thought it would be a whole other level of disrespect to impersonate him.

9:52
Paul Swydan: I would think it’s very hard to do. Whenever my wife listens to audiobooks the one person doing lots of people’s voices always annoys me.

9:52
Sam: That was a HUGE factor for me

9:52
Ben Lindbergh: I subsequently read my chapter for the audiobook of Mike Pesca’s book, Upon Further Review, and discovered that reading is hard

9:52
Sam: plus, like, ben and I would have totally different Feh impersonations!

9:52
Matt Ely: You guys mentioned that the book could be equally useful as a business/organizational management book or as a baseball book. Do you have any sense of how most readers have used it? Did any reactions or applications readers found for it surprise you?

9:53
Sam: Ben, did you get paid extra for reading that chapter?

9:53
Ben Lindbergh: I did not. Mike said I could write it off.

9:54
Sam: Well, thre have been some business classes that used it as a text, i belive. hang on, national anthem

9:54
Ben Lindbergh: I think they were going to pay us something to read the audiobook for The Only Rule, but it was going to be a small amount and we were going to have to spend many hours in the studio, stumbling over words

9:54
Ben Lindbergh: We were surprised and gratified that the book got written up by, like, the Harvard Business Review

9:55
Chris : We in the voiceover industry appreciate you leaving it to the pros :) – speaking from experience narrating audiobooks is a thankless task.

9:55
Ben Lindbergh: In retrospect we wondered whether we should have emphasized the business-y, management-y elements more, but probably they wouldn’t have worked as well if we’d been more obvious about them

9:56
Sam: The HBR review was probably my favorite one, too! “A great yarn, even if you don’t like baseball at all,” or something like that.

9:56
Paul Swydan: Haha.

9:56
Mark Steubinger: I enjoyed you guys trying to get certain San Rafael players out of the league by showing higher independent leagues how good they were. Was there ever any thought about sharing some of the scouting reports and data you had on San Rafael with Pittsburg and Vallejo to try and keep the Pacifics from winning a few more games?

9:56
Ben Lindbergh: We got to speak at a CEO conference. I don’t think we’ve ever felt more like imposters

9:56
Sam: Lol they wouldn’t have spent two seconds looking at our data

9:57
Sam: There was an alternate reality version of the book that soooort of almost happened–

9:57
Ben Lindbergh: Those teams could barely make payroll, so yeah, I don’t think they had anyone who would or could have used any info from us. Would’ve been fun, though

9:57
Steve: Do either of you have any regrets about leaving something out of the book? Alternatively, I’d there anything you wish that you had left out of it?

9:58
Sam: the Pittsburg owner was, I dunno, going to quit or something, before hte season began. I wanted Ben to take over Pittsburg and then we could actually GM against each other

9:58
Sam: but the labor would have been outrageous and on such short notice and we woudn’t have got to kick it as much as we did!

9:58
Ben Lindbergh: I don’t. The publisher let us go longer than we’d initially planned to, and by the time we were done there was nothing else I wanted to say

9:59
Ben Lindbergh: Sam recently told a story on The Infinite Inning podcast about getting resin on his hands in the dugout that I’m mad that he didn’t tell in the book. At least I don’t think he told it.

9:59
Sam: Regrets about leaving things out. I have to think about that. I forget what’s in it. I think Andrew Parker was totally and completely wasted by the authors. He was an A+ character and he appears like three times. Such a waste.

9:59
Sam: That resin story had nothing to do with the season!

9:59
Mike O: Have you been back to Sonoma since? Does the town recognize you guys at all ?

9:59
Ben Lindbergh: Still a good story about being uncomfortable in a dugout. Would’ve worked somewhere!

10:00
Ben Lindbergh: The town definitely did not, does not, and will not recognize us

10:00
Sam: One of the guys on the team got a DUI, and we didn’t mention it, because it didn’t make any sense at the time. In retrospect, it turned out to be a really significant detail of character and we probably should have.

10:00
Paul Swydan: Would’ve fit in the part about your palms being sweaty.

10:00
Sam: I went back to Sonoma both of the next two summers, probably 10 games total. It’s fun to go back. Captain Morgan, the surly bench coach, won’t look at me. Or Theo.

10:00
Ben Lindbergh: It’s far for me, and I haven’t been back. I really miss it. Aside from the exhaustion and constant anxiety, it was a pleasant summer. My wife was there and we had a cute little house. It was very different from city living

10:01
Jeff: Hi Sam and Ben- you guys got me through a lot of miles on the road.  Hands down my favorite podcast to listen to when running.  Thought about shedding a tear at episode 1,000 of EW.  Question: Ultimately, what is the legacy of your book?   Is it the effect on future baseball front offices and organizations?  Is it in how fans can better understand the tug-of-War between analytics and traditionalists?  Something else?

10:01
Sam: He would get somebody on the visiting team to put him on their guest list so he could go to games without giving Theo money. And then he’d sit in the primo wine-garden seats, even though those weren’t where his tickets were. Titan.

10:01
Ben Lindbergh: Well, now-wife. Back then she was my girlfriend (slash chauffeur, because I didn’t have a driver’s license, which was quite a handicap in California)

10:02
Sam: (The owner sold after 2016, and Theo quit after 2017, and I’ll probably never go back. Though Ben and I are still listed as special assistants to the GM on the web site)

10:02
Sam: THE TOWN RECOGNIZES ME BEN

10:03
Ben Lindbergh: We haven’t done anything for the Stompers in years, but I hope they never remove us

10:03
Paul Swydan: Hah they are!

10:04
Paul Swydan: That’s awesome.

10:04
Ben Lindbergh: We’re like George in Seinfeld when he worked for Play Now and wouldn’t leave

10:04
Sam: Jeff: I don’t know. I have to think about that. Mostly, I think it’s a book about relationships, and I hope we told a story about the humanity on both sides of day-to-day conflicts, and that that story makes people who read it feel slightly better about the world and maybe slightly less certain about themselves.

10:05
Mike O: Sam, do you know Ben thinks your beard is scraggly ?

10:05
Sam: There are probably better answers than that but I’d want to think about the question for longer

10:05
Sam: Scraggly? Scraggly usually implies a lack of fullness, right? My beard is stiff and wiry but it is thick af

10:06
Paul Swydan: Yup. Scraggly: (of a person or animal) thin and bony.

10:06
Ben Lindbergh: I hope the fact that the book turned out to be less about numbers and more about people means it will hold up a bit better

10:06
Sam: I am scraggly. My beard takes my lunch money, though.

10:07
Ben Lindbergh: If it were just about us trying out cutting-edge techniques, it would already be out of date

10:07
Sam: I just want people to read it and find a friend somewhere in it!

10:07
Ben Lindbergh: As it is, it’s more about a mindset and a place and a story

10:08
Sam: The other book model I had in mind was Roughin’ It, by Mark Twain, btw. But just because I happened to be reading it at the time.

10:08
Sam: (But sense of place)

10:08
5 Run Homer: Ben: who would you choose to play you and Sam in the movie adaptation?

10:08
Paul Swydan: Has to be asked!

10:08
Sam: wait, why does Ben get to answer that?

10:08
Sam: I have the better answers!

10:08
Paul Swydan: You can answer too, Sam. :-)

10:09
Sam: Ben would be played by Sam Esmail. I would be played by Kate McKinnon.

10:09
Sam: wait! Sorry,

10:09
Sam: Sam Esmail is the CREATOR of Mr. Robot, I meant to say Rami Malek

10:10
Ben Lindbergh: I think I’ve read too many EW Facebook threads on this topic to answer originally

10:10
Paul Swydan: Well, what’s your favorite EW answer?

10:11
Paul Swydan: For the record, I think Kate McKinnon would make an EXCELLENT Sam.

10:12
Ben Lindbergh: I forget all of them. But whatever I answered would probably be an answer I stole from someone else. There’s someone everyone always says would be me, and now I forget who. I will say that Tig Notaro reminds me of Sam

10:12
Paul Swydan: Nice.

10:12
Paul Swydan: Couple observations real quick before we go.

10:12
Glenstein: I felt you were being too hard on yourselves with the self-critical conclusion to the book. It seems like the Stompers were just hammered by the loss of talented players departing for better opportunities and it wasn’t necessarily a failing from either of you guys.

10:12
Glenstein: The year after you wrote the book, my understanding is the Stompers had a really great season. Tacking that on at the end as an additional chapter could have made for a very uplifting ending. No real question there, I guess, but an observation.

10:13
Ben Lindbergh: We still should have been better at replacing those players!

10:14
Ben Lindbergh: I did write a bit about the following season in an afterword to the paperback edition. So go buy one of those, if you haven’t already!

10:15
Sam: Tig Notaro works, too.

I don’t remember whether we were too hard on ourselves, but we did a lot of stuff wrong! But of course we did. It was independent league baseball, where everybody is pretty bad; and we were learning on the fly. We had a REASON for being sort of bad. But I dumbly thought it would be easy.

10:16
Sam: We had pitchf/x in an independent league, and my friend if we turned it into even two runs I’d be shocked.

10:17
Paul Swydan: Maybe. Maybe that’s one of the real lessons.

10:17
Paul Swydan: Alright, I think that we should call it a night. Thanks very much to everyone for coming through, this was really a lot of fun. Thanks especially to Ben and Sam for coming in and chatting with us. It’s very much appreciated. I’ll put up a poll in the Facebook group right now for the next book.

10:19
Sam: later

10:19
Paul Swydan: Night!

We hoped you liked reading FanGraphs Book Club – The Only Rule Is It Has To Work by Paul Swydan!

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com. He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

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fordhamflash
Member
fordhamflash

I bought this book like a year ago and have been too lazy to read it. Without any spoilers, is it worth the read?

Brian Reinhart
Member
Member

It is good and entertaining and full of good people/characters.

Rollie's Mustache
Member
Member

Very entertaining, a hard one to put down.

josephd10
Member
josephd10

Loved it. Not what you’d expect, either.

Tim4242
Member
Tim4242

Yeah I loved it. The book was a lot richer than what I expected. I think I was expecting a couple guys bragging about how they succeeded using analytics – not that that was a fair expectatation, but for some reason that was what I thought and I was very pleasantly surprised. I loved reading about the world of independent baseball and all the characters involved. I also liked reading about Ben and Sam’s challenges trying to pursuade others and how they often learned things were a lot more complicated than they thought.

phealy48
Member
phealy48

It’s really more about the people than the stats. It’s well worth the time it takes to read(plus it has pictures).

Aaron
Member
Aaron

Definitely worth a read IMO. To me, the first ~2/3 of the book read really quickly. For whatever reason, I found it more difficult to read through the final 1/3 of the book. Slowed down a bit for me. But still, worth a read!