Clearing the Bases
The Greatest Baseball Debates of the Last Century
Publication Date: May 2002
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Who was better, Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays? Who was the best right-hander of the '60s, Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal? Who is the greatest starting pitcher of all time? At his peak, who was more valuable, Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams? If Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, and Roger Clemens had pitched at the same time against the same hitters, who would have won the most games? If Jackie Robinson had been white, would he be deserving of the Hall of Fame? Is Pete Rose overrated? Has Tim Raines been underrated? Who is the best hitter of the game today-- Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr.? Is today's pitching really that bad? Why can't modern pitchers go nine innings? Which are more valuable-- good starters or good relievers? How important is the stolen base? What are the myths that still surround Babe Ruth? What was the most talented baseball team of the twentieth century? Which twentieth-century championship team has been most slighted by baseball historians? What has been the real impact of black and Latin talent on Major League Baseball? Is baseball more competitive now than it was one hundred years ago? Or fifty? Or twenty-five? Who was the greatest all-around player of the last century? Find the answers here.
Clearing the Bases is the first book to tackle these and many other of baseball's most intriguing questions, plus it offers hard, sensible answers-- answers based on exhaustive research and analysis. Sports journalist Allen Barra, whose weekly sports column, "By the Numbers," has earned him millions of readers in The Wall Street Journal and whose outspoken opinions on Salon.com are discussed regularly on National Public Radio, takes on baseball's toughest arguments. Using stats and methods he developed during his ongoing tenure at The Wall Street Journal, Barra takes you to the heart of baseball's ultimate question, Who's the Best?, in this, the ultimate baseball debate book. It is guaranteed to spark thousands of heated debates and to supply the fuel for thousands more. While including bits on Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Clemens, Lefty Grove, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams, among others, Barra even finds time to argue the case for great players from other sports such as Bart Starr in football and Wilt Chamberlain in basketball.
Regardless of what stand you take in these debates, you'll never think about baseball's greatest stars in the same way again.
Allen Barra is also the author of the critically acclaimed biography Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends. In addition to his column for The Wall Street Journal and Salon.com, he is a monthly columnist for American Heritage magazine and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Playboy, The New York Times, and The Village Voice. He is also heard regularly on Major League Baseball Radio.
"Using hard evidence as a snowplow and logic as a compass, Barra pushes aside the accumulated debris of a century's assumptions to see things as they were. Bill Russell did not beat Wilt Chamberlain; stop saying that. It is easy for living sportswriters to be bullied by dead ones; they were so large when we were small. Barra calls on us to stand on our own two feet and wrestle with the hard questions left over from the generations of sports history. A wonderful collection of thoughts and essays."--Bill James, author of The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
"If my sins at last caught up with me and I were confined to the smallest room in my house, I can think of no finer companion there than Allen Barra's engagingly contentious Clearing the Bases."--Roger Kahn, author of The Head Game and The Boys of Summer