Monday, January 14, 2019

"Power Ball" by Rob Neyer - Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game

In writing "Power Ball," author Rob Neyer has very cleverly, and very effectively, chosen to dissect the details of a single baseball game as a way of examining the state of Major League Baseball as a whole. The result is an inning-by-inning, sometimes a pitch-by-pitch,, chronicle of a game that was played late in the 2017 season between the Houston Astros and the Oakland A's. This book stands of the shoulders of Michael Lewis's iconic "Moneyball." In choosing to examine one game as a microcosm of baseball, Neyer also follows in the footsteps of Arnold Hano, who wrote "A Day In The Bleachers," and Dan Okrent, who authored "Nine Innings."

This is simply one of the most engaging baseball books I have read in recent memory. The author uses specific situations in the unfolding game between the Astros and the A's to highlight significant changes in baseball: the emergence of a whole generation of power pitchers who can hurl over 100 MPH, the role of the defensive shift, the disappearance of the bunt, the changing perception of strikeouts by batters, the pace of the game, the out sized dominance of players of short stature, the new generation of super statistics, launch angle, exit velocity, etc.

Having attended literally thousands of baseball games in my lifetime, and having taken in thousands more via radio and TV, I am more than a casual fan of the game, Yet each chapter of this book offered me new insights into aspects of the game I had not previously considered.

If you love baseball, then this book is a MUST READ!


Monday, January 07, 2019

"The Leader's Guide To Mindfulness" by Audrey Tang - How To Use Soft Skills To Get Hard Results

The topic of Mindfulness has been - well - on everyone's mind in this millennium. Each author, speaker, and guru seems to have his or her own definition of exactly what mindfulness is. As a core practice of Buddhism, the concept of Mindfulness has been around for centuries. Author Audrey Tang offers her opinion that the practitioner ought not worry too much about having a firm definition of Mindfulness, but should be willing to use any technique or practice that brings tangible results.

This is a very practical and pragmatic book. The subtitle gives a good overview of the author's intent:"How to use soft skills to get hard results." The three major sections of the book are entitled: Practical Applications, Personal Applications, and Mindful Growth. In each chapter, Dr. Tang offers templates or scripts for guided meditation specific to the topic at hand.

A chapter I found particularly helpful delineates the differences between Problem Solving and Decision Making. The different mindset needed for each of the two distinct situations is carefully explained. In the next chapter, she explores the key differences between Creativity and Innovation.

This book serves as a helpful handbook for anyone committed to becoming more self-aware, more present, more emotionally available, and more productive, using techniques steeped in Eastern practices of relaxation and meditation.