I've only started watching baseball this year (Jays!), and my vocabulary consisted of just: balls, strikes, outs...moreVery helpful introduction to the game!
I've only started watching baseball this year (Jays!), and my vocabulary consisted of just: balls, strikes, outs, hits, and bases. That was...pretty much it. Figuring out the little numbers on the top of my television screen was a small triumph. Having had half the season to slowly absorb the game through radio and on the screen, I'm now aware enough to feel nervous when there's a full count with men on base, fist pump and cheer when the closer gets a timely out, and familiarize myself with the commentary.
Having said that, I haven't bothered looking up anything extra about the sport aside from what scraps I've picked up through the schedule, so this book seemed like a good choice. Zack Hample explains everything from the nuances from each fielding position to the memorable moments in baseball history (in a nutshell) with clarity, and an expressed desire to draw new fans to understand the game better. I do see myself flipping through this some more to get a better grasp of the statistics section, which wasn't quite as intimidating once I worked through the rest of the book. The drafting is also something I'd love to look into since I'm a hockey fan above all and want to see the differences between the systems, and how much teams value their respective picks and develop their prospects.
All the italicized words seemed a bit overboard because I got tired of flipping back to the glossary, but most of the time it was helpful. The title of the book is a bit misleading as I can't see a serious fan learning anything new from this book, if I can pick it up without much prior baseball knowledge. It's more of a beginner's stepping stone to build a foundation on, then specializing from there.
This book's already been helpful with the games I've watched, and I'm hoping I'll be able to score a live game one of these days. Only attended the one game of the season so far and it was an absolute shellacking - 14-1 loss to the Red Sox. It's all part of being a fan, isn't it? You never do know what to expect.(less)
I first knew of Jacques Plante through Canada's Heritage Minutes - those televised history segments honouring famous Canadians - before I had even wat...moreI first knew of Jacques Plante through Canada's Heritage Minutes - those televised history segments honouring famous Canadians - before I had even watched a hockey game. We're all familiar with shot from Andy Bathgate now, the one that allowed Plante to don a mask and change the face of the game.
This was a very enjoyable read. I'm not a Habs fan myself, but I do appreciate the history behind the oldest franchise, especially all the greats they've had holding their forts during their lucrative years. Todd Denault charts Plante's life from his humble beginnings in small-town Quebec, instilling in him a sense of pride and frugality that lasted beyond his years as a goaltending legend. An eccentric example of this was Plante being an avid knitter, making his own toques, which he seemingly wore as a statement piece because no one else did it. Teammates also remembered him as being a reclusive man, keeping to himself during long road trips between games. Even though he is first and foremost known with the Canadiens jersey, he also played for the Rangers, Blues, Leafs (recording his all-time best SV%), Bruins, and Oilers (WHA). With seven Vezinas, six Stanley Cups, and one Hart Trophy, it's hard not to be impressed with his accomplishments, but most importantly were the changes he made to the game: playing the puck outside the net to help out his defencemen, communicating with his defense, assiduously studying other goalies to refine his own skills, and becoming the first goaltending coach.
The interviews from his teammates, friends, and adversaries personalized this book, along with some vintage photos included. The books credited in the bibliography are great resources too, if you're curious like me and can't get enough of hockey books.(less)
I only knew about this book through Canada Reads, and this is the third one I've read, with The Complete Essex County and The Best Laid Plans to go. H...moreI only knew about this book through Canada Reads, and this is the third one I've read, with The Complete Essex County and The Best Laid Plans to go. Having heard the radio debates before reading this, I did keep in mind that this didn't get a very positive reception from the judges, but after reading it, that is a disappointment because like Georges Laraque said, this is quite an accessible book. And although by the end of the week that word did seem to carry a negative connotation, I don't mean to say that the writing is too simple or the book is 'dumbed down' for the masses, but that the story is relatable because it talks about the process of working towards a life's dream and the disappointment that is always lurking beneath it all. I suppose this was always the choice to take out of the race, along with the graphic novel, but both deserved better.
This story centers around Digger (Tom Stapleton), who is a wrestler preparing himself to make the Olympic trials for the 2000 Sydney Games, and Sadie, a swimmer who is doing just the same. Their stories do not intersect at all to start off with, which is all well because the peripheral characters that make up the support system for these two are worth getting to know: their coaches, fellow trainees and confidants, parents, etc. Fly, Digger's friend, was easily my character for the humour he brought to whatever situation he happened to be in.
I am about as far from an Olympian as you can be, and I still enjoyed this story very much. I was looking forward to Sadie's story because I do enjoy swimming, albeit for leisure, but Digger's training was just as gritty and real - at some points it was like a chess match, his mind furiously going through the moves he could use to gain points and take down his opponent. The descriptions for the sports never do get tiring for me, I could nearly smell the chlorine from the pool, sense the constant pressure to keep shaving time off from their swims, sweat dripping from the athletes as they grind through their practices.
I'm not sure how long this book will stay in the public's conscience - even the Vancouver Games are fading fast from our memories - but it is a worthy read. It's not often I care about both protagonists; all too often the prose will be wonderful to read but the fates of the characters don't seem to be foremost on my mind. Not with these two. I cared about Sadie and Digger's journeys, and whether or not they'll finally make it to the Olympics to give it their all.
I'd definitely recommend this book. Angie Abdou has an almost methodical prose, in a complimentary sense, because the pacing ticks along and there's never a boring moment. The story moves. Some chapters are written with a near short story flourish because she compacts everything so smartly within the boundaries, but strung together, it makes quite a visceral read. (less)
A hockey fan all the way here, but this book was simply addictive! If only Michael Lewis would take to writing something, anything, about my favourite...moreA hockey fan all the way here, but this book was simply addictive! If only Michael Lewis would take to writing something, anything, about my favourite sport. I have a very limited knowledge of baseball but this book would be compelling for anyone to read, even if it is about winning games through studying statistics. Makes you think if your team could incorporate this method, although the playoffs do seem like a crapshoot.
Can't wait to get my hands on the other books Lewis has written.(less)
Simply a classic. Even if you are not a hockey fan, you will end up enjoying this book. The tale is simple and transcends all sport borders - who can...moreSimply a classic. Even if you are not a hockey fan, you will end up enjoying this book. The tale is simple and transcends all sport borders - who can bear to put on a rival team's sweater? The opening lines are memorable, with a perfect finish at the very end. Worth a read in both English and French!(less)