Susan Jacoby, author of such brilliant, skeptical books as Strange Gods, The Great Agnostic, and Freethinkers, is a die-hard baseball fan, which is probably why she considers it acceptable to give her latest book, Why Baseball Matters, a presupposition right there in the title, before a single word of special pleading or witness-leading has commenced ... in a marked tone-shift, Jacoby is here preaching to the converted ... Nevertheless, Jacoby is courageous enough to address the wheezing, sclerotic elephant in the room: how boring baseball is ... The real title of Why Baseball Matters might well be How Baseball Survives.
While looking back to this time with pleasure, she does not idealize it as an era of sweetness and light, noting that racism was far more overt and the reserve clause made playing professional ball a form of indentured servitude ... The simple truth is that baseball matters because—as she also maintains, though less didactically—the game has, for better or worse, 'played a role in American history that goes far beyond amusement or entertainment.' Put another way, baseball, the greatest of all games, matters because it links us to the past and is part of our identity.