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Sam Yagan (CEO/IAC’s Match Group)As a CEO, I have often thought about the balance of trusting data vs. gut in decision-making. I claim to be data-oriented, but in the moment, I often rely on my understanding of human nature. As I read about Tony La Russa’s maniacal focus on baseball’s mass of statistics, coupled with this nuanced understanding of his players and opponents, it was obvious that neither is enough on its own: The leader who truly understands the numbers will make the best gut decisions.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author captures baseball’s strategic and emotional essences through a point-blank account of one three-game series viewed through the keen eyes of legendary manager Tony La Russa. Drawing on unprecedented access to a manager and his team, Bissinger brings the same revelatory intimacy to major-league baseball that he did to high school football in his classic besteller, Friday Night Lights. Three Nights in August shows thrillingly that human nature -- not statistics -- can often dictate the outcome of a ballgame.
We watch from the dugout as the St. Louis Cardinals battle their archrival Chicago Cubs for first place, and we uncover delicious surprises about the psychology of the clutch, the eccentricities of pitchers, the rise of video, and the complex art of retaliation when a batter is hit by a pitch. Through the lens of these games, Bissinger examines the dramatic changes that have overtaken baseball: from the decline of base stealing to the difficulty of motivating players to the rise of steroid use.
More tellingly, he distills from these twenty-seven innings baseball's constants -- its tactical nuances, its emotional pull. During his twenty-six years of managing, La Russa won more games than any other current manager and ranks sixth all-time. He has been named Manager of the Year a record five times and is considered by many to be the shrewdest mind in the game today. For all his intellectual attainments, he’s also an antidote to the number-crunching mentality that has become so modish in baseball. As this book proves, he's built his success on the conviction that ballgames are won not only by the numbers but also by the hearts and minds of those who play.