Book Review: The Big Chair

A trip to spring training would probably be the best gift of the holiday season, but a copy of The Big Chair is probably a close second. (Photo from Barnes and Noble)
A trip to spring training would probably be the best gift of the holiday season, but a copy of The Big Chair is probably a close second. (Photo from Barnes and Noble)

The 2017 baseball winter meetings concluded last week in Walt Disney World and audiences were treated to round-the-clock baseball coverage in December. Savvy baseball fans may have tuned to MLB Network and/or followed Ken Rosenthal on Twitter to monitor reports of transactions orchestrated by the 30 general managers gathered for the annual meetings.

Ned Colletti gives readers a seat at the table in the Los Angeles Dodgers suite during the winter meetings and describes his tenure as general manager from 2005 to 2014 in his memoir–The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces from the Inside World of the Acclaimed Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager.

Colletti provides detailed play-by-play coverage and color commentary of the negotiations he had with agents over the course of his career. He provides insight into the negotiation tactics and tendencies of renowned agents–Scott Boras and Casey Close–during negotiations for Prince Fielder and Zack Greinke, respectively.

His descriptions about trade deals, including the 2008 three-way deal which sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles, are even more entertaining and insightful for baseball fans. The last-minute conference call between Colletti, Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, and Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington develops like a scene from a movie and it illustrates the intricacies of blockbuster deals.

Trades and negotiations are just two topics Colletti describes in the The Big Chair. In addition to describing his humble upbringing, Colletti uses a lot of ink to illustrate the critical relationship between baseball executives and ownership. His commentary is especially valuable based on his experience working with different owners.

Colletti highlights the challenges of working with his “hands tied” under the ownership of Frank McCourt and juxtaposes it with the flexibility granted under the leadership of Stan Kasten and Guggenheim Baseball Management.

The Big Chair even provides aspiring baseball executives and baseball fans with a chapter detailing “a day in the life” of a general manager.

A trip to spring training would probably be the best gift of the holiday season, but a copy of The Big Chair is probably a close second.

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