Bryan Johnson, a Toronto Globe and Mail writer who had, apparently, been the paper’s drama expert in the late ’70s, reviewed this book in this way:
Until this year, there were two distinct classes of baseball fans: the great huddled masses, and the tiny tribe of zealots who followed the gospel according to Bill James. The common herd watched the NBC Game of the Week, swallowed newspaper box scores, and did idiotic things such as making Willie Stargell the 1979 MVP. Shrouded in darkness, they seemed forever doomed to a life of mere batting averages, RBIs and ERAs. The Bill James devotees could only gaze down from a great height and forgive their lesser brothers. What, after all, could be expected from people who didn’t know a Runs Created formula from an Isolated Power stat? . . .
If you could find his pamphlet in Canada, which only a few of us ever did, it cost an outrageous $20. But what an investment! In return, Bill James revealed the game you were watching but had never seen. In an odd way, the Kansas stats fanatic actually hated most baseball statistics, because they so often hid the game’s truth. . . .
Alas, there is a sad ending to the Bill James story. Sports Illustrated discovered him last year, and ran an ecstatic profile. A publishing company offered a nice contract, turning the Abstract into a real book with a glossy cover and typography that doesn’t look like a high school essay. The price is now reasonable, the distribution excellent.
So there’s no longer the slightest cachet in being a Bill James devotee. Now any damn fool can be a ball fan.