Baseball was my first love. I grew up as a Mets fan. I could hop on the subway and be at Shea Stadium in minutes. I’d watch every game in my bedroom on a small color TV with tinfoil on the antennae for better reception. At the stadium I would chant, “Give it a ride, Darryl! Give it a ride!” while the organ played, and I consumed my weight in pretzels before the fifth inning. I still can’t watch replays of Game 6 without tearing up when the ball gets by Buckner.
I joined a few fantasy baseball leagues. One of them had 16 teams and a $2,500 entry fee. Big money and lots of fun.
Then I found the 1987 Bill James Baseball Abstract at the bookstore and my life changed.
I learned that numbers could see the future. I learned about “new” statistics like baserunner errors, quality starts, total average, on base + slugging, and runs created. Then, in the 1988 version, James cited workload-related burnout as the reason the Abstract would stop. Yes, stop. No mas. So I went on a quest, searching on my bike every used bookstore I could find to buy the Abstracts from 1977-1986. Eventually, I had them all. Every Bill James Baseball Abstract was mine. And I truly knew baseball.