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Rob Neyer doesn't pull any punches on his personal Web site, the eponymous, starting out the obligatory FAQ with the simple question, "Who the hell are you, and where the hell did you come from?"

Well, replies Neyer, "My name is Rob Neyer, and since 1996 I’ve written a daily baseball column for Prior to that, I was with STATS, Inc. for about two-and-a-half years, and before that I spent four years working with baseball author Bill James."

If that resume doesn't ring a George Bell for the casual Box reader, Neyer is also the author of books such as Baseball Dynasties (with Eddie Epstein) and the massively titled Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups: A Complete Guide to the Best, Worst, and Most Memorable Players to Ever Grace the Major Leagues, reviewed here on Da Box last June.

In that review, Neyer's former employer, James, was quoted as calling him "the best of the new generation of sportswriters. He knows baseball history like a child knows his piggy bank. He knows how to pick it up and shake it and make what he needs fall out." So it should come as no surprise that James and Neyer have now collaborated on a new book entitled The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers A Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers and Pitches.

As such, Neyer has generously agreed to spend some time with Da Box, specifically to discuss the new book, and provided a pre-press galley for review. The review, in which he will answer some of the questions Boxers post here in this thread, is scheduled for publication during the week of May 24, just ahead of the book's scheduled official publication date.

Want a little personal baseball insight into Neyer? He's started his conversation with Da Box by answering all the same questions each regular in the Box Lineup has answered. So while you might recall that as recently as last summer he wrote of the Blue Jays, "I think I might have a new favorite team," we now know that's not (yet) true -- but that we might just leap to the conclusion that back in Little League, he was randomly attacking lovable schnitzel-shaped mascots.

Here we go ...

Rob Neyer
Position: LF
Bats: R
Throws: R
Born: 6/22/66, Columbia, Mo.
Resides: Portland, Oregon, USA
Major-League Comp to Little League Career: Randall Simon
Favourite Team: K.C. Royals
Favourite Player (current): Tim Wakefield
Favourite Player (all-time): Bill Pecota
Best Game Attended In Person: Game 3, 1985 ALCS (sorry, Jays fans)
Favourite Baseball Book: The Glory of Their Times (or) Ball Four (or) The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
Favourite Play in Baseball: Delayed steal (because it never works but they keep trying it)
Favourite Ballpark: Fenway Park
Striding-To-The-Plate Music: Center Field
Three Unshakable Baseball Beliefs: 1. Opening Day should take place within North America; 2. Babe Ruth is still the greatest player ever; 3. Caps with patches look really, really stupid.

So, About This Book ...
The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers A Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers and Pitches is scheduled to release in late May or early June at 476 pages and is currently listed on for US$16.95 and on for CN$19.60.

From the dustjacket:
"Pitchers, and the pitches they throw, and how they throw them -- these days it's the stuff of constant scrutiny, but there's never been a comprehensive source for such information."

From the introduction:
"Both of us are compulsive collectors of old baseball books ... there were books about pitchers and pitching, of course, but these were hit and miss; finding specific information about a specific pitcher was always a long shot ... We haven't filled in every gap; we haven't thickened every thin spot. We have come astonishingly close ... [winding] up with actual, documented information about the pitches thrown by roughly ninety-eight percent of the pitchers with substantial major-league careers, plus hundreds who had not-very-substantial careers."

From the publicist:
"Like most of their previous work, The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers is about understanding baseball greatness and baseball weakness. Whether the reader is looking to spark an entertaining debate, compare the players of yesterday to today or just plain obsess over everything and anything to do with baseball, The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers is the book to have." -- Trina Rice, Touchstone/Firestone

On first glance, the book appears to be an awesome work -- in the literal, not the 1980's teen slang, sense. For instance, the heart of the book is a "Pitcher Census," which lists specific information for nearly two thousand pitchers, spanning all three centuries of major league baseball.

In addition, there are 10 articles about great pitchers who have been overlooked: Tommy Bond, Tony Mullane, Wilbur Cooper, Eddie Rommel, Mel Harder, Lon Warneke, Tommy Bridges, Bucky Walters, Billy Pierce and Bob Friend. These are defined by Neyer and James as "pitchers who pitched at least thirty years ago, are not in the Hall of Fame, have never been the subject of a book-length biography, but had careers of Hall of Fame caliber."

Is this book-length biography of Pitchers, Pitches and Pitching headed for a Hall of Fame career on the bookshelves of baseball fans, prominently displayed next to James' Abstracts and Neyer's Lineups? That's what we'll aim to find out in this review process.

So now, Boxers, it's up to you. What do you want to know about how this book happened? What pitchers, right off the bat (sorry), seem to be missing from that overlooked "List of 10"? What would you expect -- even demand -- from a book with this subject and title before plunking down your twenty bucks to add it to your collection? What else?

As we did with previous interviews with Richard Griffin and Geoff Baker, representative questions will be incorporated into the e-mail "interview" exchange with Neyer. And the results -- and review -- are coming to a Box near you in early summer.
Stepping into Da Box ... Rob Neyer | 15 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Jordan - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#32518) #
Game 3, 1985 ALCS

George Brett homered twice off Doyle Alexander, if memory serves correctly? It wasn't quite at the level of Larry Herndon goes yard and Frank Tanana pitches a shutout, but it's definitely on the list of Worst Blue Jays Moments Ever. But in fairness, that was a great series and a great Royals team.

Mick, thanks for arranging this, and Rob, thanks for dropping by to talk with us! Here are a few questions for consideration:

1. It's all the rage now, but in assembling a book about pitching, you must have given thought to the role of fielding and how to separate these two elements of defence. In the post-DIPS, post-Win Shares era, how do you see this line of inquiry evolving? And how did you study this modern question in the context of men who pitched more than 30 years ago?

2. It's perhaps an obvious question, but who would you characterize as the most overlooked pitcher of the last 30 years? It's hard to find anyone "overlooked" with the current level of media saturation, but are there any candidates? Bert Blyleven seems to be the leading candidate in this regard among traditional fans.

3. I've often thought that you were the first writer to stand on the line between avant-garde sabrmetrics and more traditional baseball fandom, though others have followed. Do you think that line is blurring -- if so, by how much? -- and do you think it will ever disappear altogether?
Coach - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 03:34 PM EDT (#32519) #
Mick, this is tremendous -- great job. Rob, thanks very much for stepping into Da Box. I'm an easy sell on this book, and any subsequent collaborations between two of my favourite authors.

How long did this project take, from initial discussions to the galleys? How many other people were involved in the research?

My only other question for now is -- Bill Pecota???
_Paul D - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#32520) #
How do you and Bill write a book togehter?
Do you alternate chapters, or does one of you have the idea and outline and another one writes it?

Will you be in Toronto anytime this summer to sign the book?

Thanks Rob.
_stapes - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#32521) #
Hi Rob.

Really enjoy your column, I even own a couple of your books.

I have two questions:

1. A friend of mine is moving to Eugene. What is Oregon like if you're a baseball fan?

2. Many of your colleagues have now began working for major league teams. If Kansas City (or any other team) came calling, would you accept, or would you prefer to continue writing from the sidelines?

_Rich - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#32522) #
Hi Rob, I love your work; thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I'd like to know if you might ever write another baseball book along the lines of Feeding the Green Monster (i.e. something rooted more in your own experience than in player or statistical analysis). Any chance you'll be stopping by the FAN 590 again this summer to chat with Bill Hayes?
_John Gizzi - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 06:37 PM EDT (#32523) #

I'm curious to hear a prolonged discussion about the death of the complete game, one that goes beyond the usual "era of specialized relievers" and health worrries for starting pitching. It can't be that simple. Absent a long discussion, I'll settle for a brief answer, and hope that the book addresses this topic more "completely."

Thanks for stepping up to Da Box.
_Tassle - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#32524) #
Who do you think is the most talented pitcher to have his career cut short by injuries in the past 30 years?
I mean a guy who would be a sure first ballot hall of famer if he had played a 15-year career.
_Rich - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 10:23 PM EDT (#32525) #
That's a great question, Tassle. Bret Saberhagen?
_Matthew E - Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 10:34 PM EDT (#32526) #
My guess is J.R. Richard.
_Mick - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 12:19 AM EDT (#32527) #
Don Gullett!
_NIck - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 03:09 AM EDT (#32528) #
_JackFoley - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 04:47 AM EDT (#32529) #
I will be buying the book as well. I have to admit, after a cursory glance at his basic statistics, I'm curious how knuckleballer turned umpire Eddie Rommel can be considered an HoF pitcher, but I will certainly reserve judgement until I read the article.

My question for Rob: Do you ever write anything that doesn't pertain to baseball, or are you a writer *because* of baseball? I find your articles literate and highly entertaining and wonder if you have branched off into any other format or topic before. Thanks for your time (and thanks BB for another great interview subject).
_csimon - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#32530) #
are we limited to 30 years?--How about Herb Score?
Pistol - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 09:46 AM EDT (#32531) #
Not a question, but just a story of sorts…..

Growing up I was a big fan of baseball. I played little league, followed the Jays, and went up to watch them every summer. 1992 & 1993 were great, especially because of all the close calls in previous years.

Following the strike in 1994 I barely watched any baseball. Over time that gradually increased but I never considered myself more than a casual fan.

Then in 1999 I was surfing around ESPN at work and stumbled upon a Neyer column that was linked on the front page. I don’t remember the specifics of it, but it took a statement by a baseball writer that one would normally think of as ‘conventional wisdom’ and Rob just picked it apart using facts from a perspective I’ve never seen before. This was my introduction to Sabrmetrics and I was hooked. I started reading his archives, and I would always check out his column at 11 am every day, which was right around when it was posted back then.

I also found Rob’s site, and got hooked on ‘Rob & Rany on the Royals’. It’s unbelievable how much I learned from reading that – managerial moves, roster construction, 40 man roster management, bullpen usage, platoons, etc.. I really missed the column when they stopped writing because Rob was fed up with the Royals.

After I found Rob’s column I soon found Prospectus, and then Primer, and then late in 2002 I found a similar little site, but it was all about the Jays. Some site called Batter’s Box. It was a combination of Rob & Rany on the Royals and Baseball Primer. Jackpot!

I’m amazed at how much more about baseball I know now, when I thought I understood baseball pretty well before (and certainly have a lot more to learn). Today I follow baseball more than I ever have before and the turning point for me was stumbling upon one of Rob’s columns. Thanks Rob.
_jason - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 08:10 PM EDT (#32532) #
Just wondering, how is Mr. James' Suzie? From all I have read of the two, it seemed to be a happy partnership; I hope it remains so.

With regards to pitching, does the development of new pitches - or the reintroduction of old pitches - follow any rhyme or reason? Do they come about when offences are on the increase? Do they adhere to any cyclical patterns?

Thanks Rob and the Box for the opportunity.

Stepping into Da Box ... Rob Neyer | 15 comments | Create New Account
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