BOOKS: MIND GAME

In 2005 the writers of Baseball Prospectus and editor Steven Goldman put together a book titled Mind Game that explained the Boston Red Sox’ 2004 World Series championship in the context of the modern, Saber-centric mindset of building a team. The subtitle says it all:

“How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series and Created a New Blueprint for Winning”

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was only 28 years old when hired in 2002 but he quickly became a wunderkind known to all the baseball world when the club broke down decades of negativity and won the 2004 World Series. Along the way in that post-season run, the Sox upended the Yankees, not just besting them in a seven-game series, but coming back from 0-3 to win four straight and advance.

Kevin Millar famously dubbed this club “Idiots” but the book explains how Epstein and the Red Sox earned this victory through intelligence. It wasn’t just an infusion of young blood that the Red Sox got in hiring such a young man to this crucial post. The new ideas of statistical analysis were Epstein’s calling card and the roster got an infusion of players that fit his fancy.

Epstein brought in David Ortiz from the Twins, Curt Schilling from the Diamondbacks and Millar from a tricky situation that involved the Marlins and the Japanese Central League. These were the types of players he wanted to go to war with.

It worked out pretty well.

Mind Game goes into great depth as it examines the history of the Red Sox franchise and how they got themselves into the position of always falling short from the time they sent Babe Ruth to the Yankess until Epstein, Terry Francona and Co. came to town. It’s a fascinating read and, as with everything Baeball Prospectus does, every notion is backed up with rock-solid reasearch.