The more things change, the more they stay the same ... I'm not really sure who this book is for, at this point. John R. Tunis aficionados (of which t...moreThe more things change, the more they stay the same ... I'm not really sure who this book is for, at this point. John R. Tunis aficionados (of which there can't be more than a handful)? People who like to geek out over vintage sportswriting? College-educated people who want confirmation that the sorts of things they worry about haven't changed in generations?
Seriously, if you are at all interested in sports and history and the ways they intersect, you should probably give this a look. It has articles about how college football was becoming an industry before before the end of World War II. It's also got ... let's see, articles about boat races between Oxford and Cambridge, the Tour de France, the French Open, and Tunis's experience as an officer escorting a troop transport full of dishonorably discharged enlisted men back to America after World War I.(less)
This is an interesting concept, but it ... lacked a certain liveliness, and I felt like there was a little too much inside baseball, if you'll pardon...moreThis is an interesting concept, but it ... lacked a certain liveliness, and I felt like there was a little too much inside baseball, if you'll pardon the expression. It was very well footnoted, though.(less)
I was pleased with the beginning. I felt like Weintraub had the genuine storyteller's touch; that's important in a book like this, which is about entertaining as well as informing the reader. But by the third chapter, my enthusiasm had cooled. The mom-and-apple-pie jingoism level had risen sharply. Maybe it's cynical of me, but when I read that two baseball players who were serving in World War II died so that future little boys could play baseball ... I have a problem with that on so many levels.
This has a nice bibliography, but the footnotes are limited, so it's not entirely clear where information is being sourced from.(less)
I first saw the paintings in this book on display at a local museum. They're excellent, but the combination of the text with the paintings is even bet...moreI first saw the paintings in this book on display at a local museum. They're excellent, but the combination of the text with the paintings is even better. It's very accessible for children, but not so simplistic that adults can't also taken in some information. Also, there is a bibliography, and the author has properly cited all of the quotations.(less)
Um. Steve Blass is a nice guy but wow, he used to drink a lot. And a lot of the time, he would get behind the wheel despite being really drunk. That w...moreUm. Steve Blass is a nice guy but wow, he used to drink a lot. And a lot of the time, he would get behind the wheel despite being really drunk. That was my main takeaway from this book. I guess you would call me a casual baseball fan. And since I live in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are my team by default. I know that they have been terrible for the last 20 years but that they were really good in the 60s and 70s. I can rattle off a few important player names from that time period (Mazeroski, Clemente, Stargell), but that's about it. Oh, and Honus Wagner, who played for them at around the turn of the century.
Anyway, aside from being the color guy on Pirates home game radio broadcasts (which he is very good at), Steve Blass is probably most famous for being the namesake of Steve Blass Disease. This is not an actual disease, but it's a name for when a pitcher inexplicably loses the ability to throw strikes and can no longer pitch. Steve Blass was, so far as I know, the first guy this happened to. (Rick Ankiel is probably the most prominent recent example.) So I was hoping that there would be some interesting discussion of how this happened and how Blass got over having to retire from baseball. And there was some space devoted to this, but the narrative was basically "It happened, no one knows why, I retired and got non-baseball jobs and later moved into being a commentator. And eventually I worked with a sports psychologist and figured out how to pitch again, long after I retired."
I do like the cover. A couple years ago, Blass was invited to throw out the first pitch, in conjunction with being honored by the Pirates for his long association with the team. The thing he is holding in his left hand is a giant tote bag full of baseballs — he was determined to throw as many pitches as it took to get one right. But he nailed it on the first try. (This story is not in the book, but I remember it from when Blass was interviewed at the time.)
I would describe this as a mildly interesting book to Pirates fans. It was interesting to read about the clubhouse dynamics in this time period.(less)
You could argue that I'm kind of a sucker for books whose title is in the form "How [sports topic] Explains [geographical region]." Previous examples:...moreYou could argue that I'm kind of a sucker for books whose title is in the form "How [sports topic] Explains [geographical region]." Previous examples: How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, How Football Explains America. This was on a display by the self-checkout machine at the library. I probably would have grabbed it even without bit about Wookiees.
After re-reading Flora's Fury, re-reading a few scenes in Blackout, and continuing to read Worldsoul, I wanted to read something less intense. And this qualified. I think the marketing/PR/design people did a nice job on this book. (This book is a review copy donated to the local library by one of the area newspapers. It still had a copy of the press release tucked inside.)
The book itself is rather light. It's basically a geeky sports guy saying "Don't be anumerate," with a few stories of athlete shenanigans, and occasional attempts at self-vindication because of message board posters who told him he was wrong about something when he wasn't. And then, at the end, it shifts to spreading the word about the West Memphis Three. No, I'm not joking. It really didn't fit with the rest of the book. But this is just one of the reasons the book already feels kind of dated. (The WM3 were released a few months after this book's publication.)
In conclusion: first/only sports book to reference Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog? Quite possibly.(less)