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March 8, 2010

Joe's Blog


by Joe Sheehan

Welcome to the blog for "The Untitled Joe Sheehan Book," which will presumably have a catchier title at some point. In this space I’ll chronicle the process of writing my first solo book, which should be out just in time for you to enjoy on an off-day during the World Series. The idea for a blog like this is, to some extent, stolen from the great Joe Posnanski, who started The Soul of Baseball blog while he was working on his wonderful biography, with the same name, of Buck O’Neil.

Since we announced "The Untitled Joe Sheehan Book" a month ago, I’ve spent most of my time reading what I’ve written over the past decade for Baseball Prospectus, trying to pare about 1,500 pieces down to a couple dozen for inclusion in the book. Those pieces are going to form the framework of the book, serving as both a "best of" for longtime readers and an introduction for new ones. Make no mistake about it; as much as I want the people who have read BP for years to buy the book, I want to be able to reach beyond that group as well. I want all baseball fans to be able to pick up the book and enjoy it even if they’ve never heard of BP.

The book isn’t going to just be a collection, however. I’m looking for columns—mostly my "Daily Prospectus" and "Prospectus Today" work, but also material under other headers—that serve as launch points for additional discussion. In the same way that this blog borrows from Posnanski, the book itself does from Bill Simmons’ first, Now I Can Die In Peace, which collected Simmons’ writing on his beloved Boston Red Sox in the aftermath of their 2004 championship, and included substantial original material. I doubt I will use the footnotes conceit that Simmons employed, but the idea—to use the old as a springboard for the new—stems from that tome.

Right now, I have a request. If you have enjoyed my work, take a second to think about any pieces that you might like to see in the book. I have created my own list, which I will work with Christina Kahrl to pare down, but I want to know what the readers think should be included. I want to know if I’ve missed something, if perhaps I’ve written something that you want to see expanded upon in this book. This book didn’t even exist as an idea three months ago, and it’s changed in my own mind a half-dozen times since Dave Pease and I first talked about it; I am certain that it can only be better the more feedback I get on the idea, the process and the execution.

That’s what the blog is about: documenting the process of writing this book and using whatever feedback is generated to make it better.

I’m going to be honest here: I’m terrified. There have been days in my career when the idea of writing a thousand words was daunting; I’ve signed on to write 100,000. Writing a book other than the annual—a process I loved, even when it nearly killed me—has never been a priority, despite it being one of the things you’re "supposed" to do as a writer. It took the right idea at the right time to even get me interested, and even with that I feel like I’m free-falling a bit. So I suppose this blog will also document the trepidation, even fear, as well, as I take on this new challenge.

I know that I’ll enjoy it more if you take it with me. Thanks, and let’s get started.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Blog,  Writing

36 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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I'm a relatively new reader of Baseball Prospectus and of your work in general so my suggestion probably isn't all that helpful. With that said, I really enjoyed your piece on the pittsburgh pirates rebuild. Can't wait to get my hands on your book when it's completed, best of luck on the process!

Mar 05, 2010 02:46 AM
rating: 0
Fire Omar

"Willie Watch" (Mar. 27, 2008)

Mar 05, 2010 10:51 AM
rating: 0

How about a link to the announcement - or am I the only who missed it?

Mar 05, 2010 15:08 PM
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Thanks to the wonders of Google Mail - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1503

Mar 05, 2010 15:09 PM
rating: 0


I would love to see stuff like this expanded upon in the book. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9566

The article about Bochy's misuse of Frew Lewis I think is a great depiction of how few managers know how to use their talent. Something that seems like such a simple concept to a BP reader, is missed by a man making 7 digits to get the most out of his talent.

Mar 08, 2010 06:37 AM
rating: 0

Your article on Instant Replay from May 29, 2008 is my favorite thing I've ever read on the topic. It makes even more sense in light of the horrific work we saw from umpires in the '09 post season. I'd love to see that article in the book as a starting point for further discussion.

Mar 08, 2010 07:46 AM
rating: 0

I'd toss in a vote for "Fooled by Context." (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4100) As the basis of it makes for fun comparisons between many players for me.

Mar 08, 2010 08:14 AM
rating: 0

"Today, though…today, I just want to vent."

"There's no mystery here. The reason for the disparity is because Colon was credited with 21 wins, while Santana did everything a pitcher can do better than Colon did."

"It's not just that Colon finished ahead of Santana. It's the gap between the two. If 25 of 28 voters can't identify the best pitcher in the league, what are we doing? What, exactly, is getting through to the electorate?"

"Johan Santana got shafted, and instead of making history as a back-to-back award winner, instead becomes just another data point in the argument for remaking the coverage of major-league baseball."


Consider this for your book, Joe, if only to educate those that still dismiss sabermetrics as some parents' basement alchemy that solely exists for self-serving Computer Geeks That Don't Watch The Games.

Greinke, Lincecum, and many more future Cy Young winners and baseball fans will thank you.

Mar 08, 2010 09:04 AM
rating: 8

Seconded, I was thinking about this discussion yesterday while listening to a spring training show.

Mar 08, 2010 14:19 PM
rating: 0


I vote for your "Prospectus Today" written after Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. In the ensuing years the mythology of that series has clouded the actual events, and the subtleties of what happened have been forgotten. People don't remember how awful Joe Torre, the Yankee rotation, defense were, and you pierced the myth of "Derek Jeter Postseason God" You also touched on a great, yet forgotten NLCS.


Mar 08, 2010 09:51 AM
rating: 5

If I could, I'd go through the whole series and read them all again. I did that with the post game 5 and game 6 columns, and both are excellent. Perhaps a complete set of columns for the whole series would read well together.

(Tongue in cheek: after all, no one's written about the 2004 Red Sox, right?)

Mar 09, 2010 07:29 AM
rating: 0


Just spent half an hour reviewing all of the 2004 ALCS columns. Compelling story, well written articles, and a treasure trove of analytics that could serve to frame a number of different sabermetric discussions. And the added joy of remembering that Joe West has been a grandstanding boob for a really long time.

Aug 10, 2010 17:04 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom


From my studies (and a bit of practice), it is in some ways easier to write a book than it is to write a column (or in my case, a short story). The extra amount of words you have in a novel give you time to flesh out your ideas. Yet in a column, you often have word count or page limits which can cause people to be vague or sound "rushed".

In any event, glad you're still around and working with BP.

Mar 08, 2010 10:01 AM
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Glad to have you back at BP (I would rather a full daily column, but an occasional blog entry will keep me renewing my membership).
I will think about my favorite columns, but my favorite quotes are from chats (I think). I give you credit for both, but I could be wrong in that ascription:
The first is from a long time ago, in which you first suggested wagering on the frequency of the phrase "past a diving Jeter." I don't care how much his defense has improved, I still think of this anytime Jeter's defense is even mentioned.
The second is from last fall in which you started a chat by referencing Tim McCarver and saying "The thing about Joe Sheehan's chats is that they start on time." It was perfect.

Mar 08, 2010 10:05 AM
rating: 1

I don't know how it is being collated but reading the comments got me thinking that pieces could be themed into broad chapter headings like:

Joe on bullpen management

Joe on pitching to the score and other urban myths


It seems having read Joe's work for a couple of years that themes could be identified and pieces linked by Joe's narrative

May I also humbly suggest a title:

The 12 Commandments of Joe Sheehan: 12 ways to make baseball a better game

Something along those lines would be cool in my opinion

Mar 08, 2010 10:08 AM
rating: 1

It's probably obvious, but your various takes on the steroid issue are some of the most important things anybody's written about baseball in the last decade.

Mar 08, 2010 10:11 AM
rating: 2


Mar 08, 2010 11:02 AM
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Third. This was one of my favorites:


Mar 08, 2010 15:15 PM
rating: 1

Speaking of "piercing the myth", your takedown of Dusty Baker has to be in there somewhere. While the rest of the media still had him walking on water, you nailed him for letting Mark Prior pitch the 7th inning of a 12-2 blowout in the 2003 playoffs -this after having him throw 133 pitches in each of his previous 2 outings (Both BarrelsBlazing", 10/09/03). Prior was never the same.

A week later (Greatest show on Earth,10/16/03), after several other well-documented critical game-management mistakes (by you, anyway - the mainstream media somehow missed it), you said "The Cubs will never again get this close with Baker as the manager". Right again.

Mar 08, 2010 10:13 AM
rating: 2

I think your piece on the relationship between the Vazquez trade and the new Braves ownership, and the implications that has for baseball, was excellent, thought-provoking, and good fodder for more in-depth treatment.

Mar 08, 2010 11:26 AM
rating: 0

Your piece in BP2002 on how to win at Coors Field, with an update/response to Rany Jazayerli's countering view later that year. Maybe the humidor renders it moot, but I enjoyed both pieces, and would like to hear more about who was "right", especially with the evidence of subsequent years.

Mar 08, 2010 11:40 AM
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The Yanks-Twins when Girardi brought in Tomko to pitch in a tie game (we were both there, May 2009). This or any other piece on bullpen mismanagement.

The Colon-Santana piece is a must.

Mar 08, 2010 12:30 PM
rating: 1

Joe -- Your book wouldn't be complete without your Jesus Wieters piece.

Mar 08, 2010 12:38 PM
rating: 2

"Ghosts 5, Red Sox 4" from July 2, 2004. Great article about a great game. But, more importantly, you criticize reports/rumors that the RSN was "backing away" from the 2004 squad, and note how good that Sox team was, and how they were just a few breaks from winning that epic game. Given what happened that October, your conclusion here makes you look damn smart.

Mar 08, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 0


I would for sure pick your column on the last game at Yankee Stadium from the end of 2008. One of my favorites by far.

Mar 08, 2010 13:27 PM
rating: 1

I've always been interested in your take on "fourth outfielders", even when you're wrong. You've got a number of articles talking about guys like Shane Victorino (probably wrong), Juan Pierre (definitely right) and Eric Byrnes (right, just a couple of years too early). I'd love to see a summary article that goes through the process of defining and utilizing a fourth outfielder from a team management POV.

Also, I'd love to see an "evolution" chapter that details your take on roster value throughout your career at BP. I remember around 2004 or so when you started taking a different stance on the value of defense. One of my favorite parts of your writing was that it seemed like you were learning with us, not just preaching to us. You'd pick something up, point it out, then return to it a few months later, and slowly build a case for or against.

Mar 08, 2010 13:29 PM
rating: 0

Your 2006 column about David Ortiz's contract extension (and Derrek Lee's) and its immediate followup:



Also your magnificent post-mortem on the Yankees' sweep of the Red Sox in August 2006:


Can't wait to read the book....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido

Mar 08, 2010 14:06 PM
rating: 0

Joe: Very glad to know that us BP readers will still have the benefit of your Stuff. Can't wait to read the book.

Suggested theme for at least one segment: Demystifying the Field Manager, the advent of the Bench Coach, and the perennnial categories of Dreadful Field Management. Go, Joe!

Mar 08, 2010 15:25 PM
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Hey! Who's this Joe dude? I remember (vaguely) someone by that name who used to post articles here, but that might have been some other guy.


Mar 08, 2010 15:57 PM
rating: 0

Your 2001 column about going to an Angels game with a two year-old is still a classic and reminds us of why we fell in love with the game in the first place. I first read it because, believe it or not, the Rally Monkey made my (then) 30 year old wife become a baseball fan too.

Mar 08, 2010 17:35 PM
rating: 0

Can't wait to read your book but sure missing your basketball columns at this time of year. Good luck

Mar 08, 2010 21:19 PM
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BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Joe, your piece on Jack Morris pitching to the score, or not (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1815) remains a classic, one that still rates mention every year in the context of Morris' Hall of Fame case. It's a nice bit of in-depth research of a type you didn't always have the luxury of doing on a daily basis.

Mar 09, 2010 06:16 AM
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Also, the one from the 2003 World Series game blown when Torre called upon Jeff Weaver - the one that starts "Dear Aaron Boone: It was a home run, not diplomatic immunity. Love, Joe" - has to be in there somewhere.


Mar 09, 2010 06:21 AM

I agree. That was the most impressive bit of research in Joe's BP tenure. I'd suggest two things; Make the message as digestible as possible for the masses and compose a new companion piece on the other side of the coin. The people who make the "pitch to score" argument are generally the same people who make the "pitched just well enough to lose" argument.

Mar 10, 2010 07:14 AM
rating: 1
Cory Schwartz

I'm sure Joe himself would say that his game-by-game recaps of the 2000 Subway Series were nothing all that special, but collectively they were the first time I had read intelligent critique of the decisions made on and off the field, instead of focusing on outcomes. (Thus, "don't confuse the outcome with the decision.") Game 1:


This series on the Series is what made me the loyal BP reader that I have been since then.

Mar 10, 2010 08:30 AM
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I seem to recall a great piece after Game 5 of the 2001 Series, the second Series game in a row in which the Yankees tied it with a 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th.

Mar 10, 2010 10:53 AM
rating: 0
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