Some all-time greatest lists are derived from measurable criteria, like rock albums ranked by the number of 10-ten lists they appeared on combined with number of records sold; or rating the best offensive football players by using total yards gained from scrimmage. But more often, the choices people and publications make to arrive at their all-time greatest lists are more subjective. With books, some subjectivity is unavoidable because reading and the enjoyment of reading are very personal experiences.
That doesn't mean some structure and methodology can't be brought to the process, which is what we've done for the Summer Game Books GBBE list. Books were assessed using a defined set of criteria. To do justice to the wide variety of great baseball books that have been written and to try to make comparison of them easier, many different aspects have to be considered.
I settled on the following, knowing that not all would apply to every book, but that every book would have the opportunity to "score points" in all the categories that do apply.
1. The quality of the writing
2. The quality of the research/scholarship
3. Innovation – how new and different
4. Historical impact
5. Entertainment value
6. Critical acclaim
7. Personal significance
You might scoff at the last item on the list, but let's face it, the impact a book has had on me is bound to color my views, so why not be upfront about it? Including a book's personal significance also gives me a big loophole to use to justify selections that other people might scratch their head about.
To further make the process more equitable and the comparisons less abstract, titles have been divided into type of book and then best-of selections were made within each category. The book genres used for the analysis were
• Team History
These were then grouped further into five main categories and the Summer Game Books 50 Greatest Baseball Books Ever has been organized and will be presented by these five groups.
• Biography and Memoirs
• Statistics and Sabermetrics
• Fiction and Literary
• Culture and Game Play
As it turned out, the SBG GBBE selections are divided fairly equally across the five categories, with the most belonging in history (13) and the fewest statistics (6). In our next post the selections from the genre with the greatest number of selections – history and team history – will be revealed.