Book Review: Trading Bases

 Trading Bases

Every once in a while a book about baseball will come out that is different than all others in the sports section at your local Barnes and Nobles. Joe Peta’s new book Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (not necessarily in that order) is one of those books. Peta, once a well-known Wall Street veteran of 15 years, tells the story of how he made good money by doing nothing else but betting on baseball by using skills that he learned when he made his previous living of trading stocks.

Peta found himself in a tough situation. He was fired from a seven-figure job with no opportunities for a comparable position. He then was involved in an accident that harmed him so much that he was constrained to his home due to his physical limitations. At this point, he knew that working a normal job wasn’t something he was going to be able to do in the near future and despite making very good money in his past positions, he was not content to just sit around doing nothing. Peta quickly decided that he could take his skills from Wall Street and transfer them to his passion of baseball.

Some of the topics covered in the book include:

  • Reasons why the experts in Las Vegas should turn to those on Wall Street for ideas that will help them increase their revenue as well as their interest.
  • A description of how the world of sports gambling has become a $380 billion business worldwide.
  • A unique argument for why the United States government should have bailed out the failing banks during the recession.
  • Peta’s reasoning behind why he believes there is a much better chance to make money by betting on baseball than there is by betting on basketball.
  • A description of the personality of the CEO of Lehman Brothers, Dick Fuld.
  • An examination of the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays as an example of an examination of skill versus luck.
  • An in depth explanation of what Peta calls, “the most important sabermetric statistic for baseball bettors.”
  • If it is possible for some players to actually perform better in clutch situations.
  • An illustration of what Peta claims to be the fact that the number of runs that a team scores and allows in a season is an extremely fair judgment of the talent on the team.
  • Peta’s argument against the idea that all Major League players are capable of having a “good day.”

The press release for the book relates it to the kind of columns that one would find by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, but this reviewer, and frequent Simmons reader, did not see the truth to that analogy. While both writers are entertaining, they clearly have their own style. If comparisons are to be made with writing style, Peta seems to best reflect the book writing of another ESPN columnist, Jerry Crasnick.

Overall the book is very entertaining and is a good read, especially for a serious baseball fan who gets their kicks from topics such as sabermetrics and not just the normal newspaper stories of play by play. I would not suggest taking Peta’s words as the gospel for baseball gambling and start waging the family fortune on ball games, but it does provide a good light into the world of baseball wagering and what topics one may want to look at in order to make a profit if this is their hobby.

Peta tells the season of betting as if he were actually on a team and provides his record throughout the piece so that the reader can easily see where he has won and where he has lost. This helps to illustrate where he is successful, but also highlights his mistakes and shows how he learns from them throughout the season. While he is very successful in his bets, his work illustrates that no one, no matter how much research they do, is going to win 100% of the time.

The book will be published on March 7 and the 368 page work will be available in hardcover for $27.95.

Rating: 3.75/5

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