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Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball [Hardcover]

George F. Will
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1990
He may be a political columnist and commentator by profession, but George F. Will's true passion is baseball. Men at Work profiles four men whom Will feels are exemplary of the best attributes of their respective positions: San Diego Padres' slugger Tony Gwynn, Baltimore Orioles' shortstop Cal Ripkin, Jr., Oakland As' manager Tony LaRussa, and Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Orel Hershiser. Now baseball fans can listen to sportscaster and fellow baseball enthusiast Bob Costas present Will's unique perspective on the game.

Will makes the point that it is not talent alone that makes baseball--and these particular men--so special. Baseball is a sport that demands intellectual energy, logic and--above all--hard work.

Filled with baseball history and anecdotes, Men at Work is a tribute to baseball that will leave you feeling as Will does: "Some men are like mountains, the closer you get to them, the bigger they become."

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

In Men at Work, political pundit George Will breaks baseball down, parsing it into essential tasks: hitting, fielding, pitching, and managing. Why do some succeed grandly while others are more apt to whiff? By analyzing the way Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Orel Hershiser, and Tony LaRussa approach the game and do what they do, he finds striking similarities in intelligence, dedication, drive, and desire. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this book for the hard-core baseball fan, Will persuades such notables as Tony La Russa, Orel Hershiser and Tony Gwynn to offer details on the finer points of the game. "The author tends to retell well-known baseball history a little too often," said PW. "But as a sports journalist, he shows himself to be a master at enticing players into particularly enlightening discussions."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a fine book about a fine game Jan. 13 2004
As Woody Allen's dalliance with Soon Yi ruined his films for many film buffs (especially New York reviewers), George Will's penetrating and often disturbing political commentary seems to have colored Men At Work for some reviewers below. Pay them no mind. Men At Work is a brilliant distillation of the insights of several brilliant Baseball Men who Work very well indeed.
Men At Work is faintly scholarly in tone - use a dictionary if you must (I didn't need one). For us non-scholars, though, if the mechanics of baseball is of interest, this book is for you.
An Example: Tony La Russa outlines nine basic ways to run the double steal - and the defense's proper response to them all. I had no idea! We didn't get this in Little League (on the other hand they don't call it the Big Leagues for nuthin')!
Here's another: An explicit split second analysis of stealing second base - it demonstrates almost beyond doubt that you steal on the pitcher - not the catcher (which perhaps shows that Will is biased against pitchers or in favor of catchers - a form of Baseball Politics?)
Will shows that when Gywnn is (no, WAS) pulling the ball, his timing was off, and why this was true.
Men At Work is not sentimental - if you want the Boys of Summer you won't find it here. What you will find is uncommon insight from some of baseball's best presented by a clearly devoted and talented writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Inside Pitch Dec 7 2003
George Will is a witty columnist, television personality and author that has won many awards over the duration his career. He spends most of his time writing columns for Newsweek and The Washington Post. Also, he makes appearances on the ABC network commenting on political issues. My focus is on his 1990 number one best selling book that stayed on top for over two months, "Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball."

Many books are available today that focus on the game of baseball. There are all sorts of reading material obtainable if you are looking for such things as history of the game, pitching strategies, tips for hitting and the list goes on. Nobody else but George Will can bring all of these elements into one clever written piece of literature.

Will breaks his book down into four main branches of baseball. He focuses on the managing, pitching, hitting and defending aspects of the game. This is done with the help of some protracted interviews with some of baseballs legends. In the managing section he interviews Tony La Russa, one of baseballs' great all time managers. He provides insightful details on getting the winning edge over the opponent. "He is responsible for wringing the last drop of advantage from the situations that will occur in each game. To do this he must know the abilities his players have revealed in their past performances and he must have similar knowledge of the players in the opposite dugout" (Wills 7). With his vast knowledge of the game, Will certainly communicates to us how meticulous managers have to be to become successful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is Spring Here Yet? Feb. 9 2004
George Will shows his passion for the game in this work. As a baseball fan myself I can appreciate the technical aspects of the game and therefore this work. If you are no more than a casual fan I am not sure this is the book for you. If you are an avid fan, however, or wanting to learn more about the intricacies of the game then this book is for you. In lengthy detailed interviews from some of the games best you'll learn about all the little things that go on during a baseball game that you simply can't get from a box score. Pitching, coaching, managing, defense and hitting are all covered. Will addresses them all adequately and with quality, classy athletes. A must read for any true fan, old or new. While the players are retired now it is still worth any young baseball fans read. It will give you a much greater appreciation for the game as a whole. I can't wait for Spring Training.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "There's a lot of stuff goes on"--Tony LaRussa April 22 2003
George Will's "Men at Work" was written out of his love for the game, and "the game inside the game." The book features extended interviews with baseball luminaries Tony LaRussa, Orel Hersheiser, Tony Gywnn and Cal Ripken jr. It is divided into sections on managers, pitchers, hitters, and defensive play. Will states that baseball is about paying attention, about the myriad details that make up each pitch, each play, each out.

At times the book bogs down into a tech manual, giving even the most enthusiastic readers a little too much detail; at other times Will's rightwing political bias does emerge in the guise of a discussion of a strong work ethic, individual initiative for personal gain, and nostalgic idealization of the past.
But taken as a whole, "Men at Work" is a paean to what used to be called "America's favorite pastime". Will demonstrates why baseball appeals on many levels to a wide range of people. As a lifelong fan, someone who has never tired of the game because however lopsided the score, there is always something to pick up on (see Tony LaRussa's quote above), I recommend the book to readers of all ages.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars George from Florissant is a hick from North County
Hey George from Florissant, how about those Cardinals now??? Still bashing LaRussa??? Why don't you get over your Whitey Herzog obsession and enjoy the fact that the Cards play... Read more
Published on July 15 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah
This is a great book, largely because George Will is a conservative. I am obsessed with ensuring that everything in life - every book, every movie, and even my own miserable life -... Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Steve Thulen
5.0 out of 5 stars GEORGE HITS A HOMER
"Men At Work" is a great, great baseball book. Is it as good as "The Summer Game", "Five Seasons", "A False Spring"? Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by Steven R. Travers
1.0 out of 5 stars George Will Doesn't Know......
George Will is a pompous ass who knows even less about baseball than he does about politics. In this rag, he states something to the effect that Tony LaRussa is the perfect... Read more
Published on April 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Informative Look at Baseball
I originally picked up this book on the strength of Will's political writings. I didn't expect an awful lot, but was very surprised when I found that Will actually knows the... Read more
Published on July 9 2003 by Chris Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars The conservative journalist who would be Commissioner of MLB
As the feeling of pain and disagreement comes across me, I sit to read the baseball book by the ultra left-winger and bad bow-tie wearer, George Will. Read more
Published on July 3 2003 by "boc333"
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best baseball book available...
So insightful and so true, even 10 years after the book was published. A must for any fan of THE GAME.
Published on Nov. 15 2002 by Azim Jessa
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Politcs, Good Insight
Picking players such as Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn, and Cal Ripken Jr to analyze made the book extremely enjoyable for me as two out of three of them were players I was able to... Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2002 by Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't confuse your genres
The point of this book - unlike Keith Hernandez's fine "Pure Baseball" - is not really to instruct the baseball adept in the subtleties of the game. Read more
Published on July 19 2002 by Eric Krupin
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