My birthday is on Christmas Day, and maybe it is for that reason that I have an innate delight in the idea of giving gifts. Or maybe I'm just an adult now. Regardless, the old axiom that "it's better to give than to receive" is certainly true for me these days, and never moreso than at Christmas Time.
In that spirit, and because I have a ton of baseball-related stuff that I've accumulated over the years, I thought I'd pop back in to my old haunt on this weblog, say hi, spill my eggnog on my keyboard a little, and share what I think are some pretty great gift ideas for the baseball enthusiasts in your life. And - it'd be pretty cool if you all could throw out some ideas, too.
Let's forget the obvious things here. Sure, jerseys and signed balls and bats and a copy of Major League 2 on HD-DVD are all well and good, but you don't need me to tell you that those are cool gifts. I'd rather expose some stuff you might not already know about (although some of these things you probably do already know about).
Weaver on Strategy by Earl Weaver. Sort of obligatory. Once upon a time we tried a book club, and this was always the first thing we turned to. It's great, it's as basic an introduction to the idea of sabrmetrics as you might want, and it doesn't present itself as a holier-than-thou sabrmetric tome.
Dollar Sign on the Muscle by Kevin Kerrane. Re-released this year by Baseball Prospectus, after a long history of being hard-to-find and having an almost mythical reputation amongst the scouting media. This is an outsider's glance into the world of professional baseball scouting, and it is full of really great stories.
Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry. You might already be familiar with the longest game in pro baseball history, a 33 inning affair between the Rochester Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox, a game which featured the brother of noted television baseballman William Ripken. I have an affinity for the non-famous minor league lifers, and those guys get some special attention in this book.
Good Enough to Dream by Roger Kahn. Speaking of those minor league no-names, here's another book all about them. You're probably familiar with Kahn and The Boys of Summer, but this lesser-known story of the unaffiliated 1983 New York Penn League Utica Blue Sox is pretty cool, too. True fact: I borrowed a copy of this book from one of my mom's co-workers, John Seitz, who pitched for the Blue Sox and is mentioned in the book.
Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson. One of my favorite coffee table books, from the popular internet website of the same name.
Analyzing Baseball Data with R by Max Marchi and Jim Albert. The nerdiest of the nerdiest things, this is a technical book on spreadsheeting and coding baseball stats. It's on my own wish list and I haven't cracked one open yet, but it's gotten pretty hefty praise from a ton of baseball scientists I respect dearly. Perfect for that one dork you know who wishes he could work in baseball one day.
Pelotero - My official stance on Pelotero is that I'm not going to talk about the particulars, as someone I work with is heavily featured in the movie. And a friend of a friend is one of the directors of the film, which makes things especially complicated. This documentary is about amateur Dominican baseball and the process teams use to sign these players. It is incredibly interesting subject matter.
Sugar - Along the same lines, Sugar is a fictionalized account of a Dominican player signed to a pro team and adjusting to life in the USA. It is, for my movie, the best fiction baseball movie ever made. Eat it, Kevin Costner.
Eephus League Halfliner- I keep score at every pro ballgame I attend (a practice I stole this past summer from a friend) and this is the scorebook I use. It's clean, portable, 81 games long, and has plenty of room for all of the National League style player changes that tend to occur when you watch a lot of National League games, as I do. The Eephus League also has some other cool stuff in their web-store, so check them out.
Watatees Etsy shop - I found this t-shirt while searching for some indie-style gifts for my family over the weekend, and it's pretty sharp looking, especially for all you guys who have pride in your state (I'm not sure if any of you do or not).
Charlie Hustle Negro Leagues Collection - I kickstarted this group of t-shirts, which at one point had or will have a Baltimore Black Sox shirt in it. I went with the New York Cuban tee, which is pretty awesome looking, though I have not yet received it.
So there you have it! A bunch of cool things that I recommend for holiday shopping lists.
Oh, and hey, I don't stop by all that often anymore but I hope you all have a Happy Winter Solstice Government-Mandated Holiday, and as always: Let's Go Bucs!