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)
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)
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)
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'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 don't watch football aside from the Superbowl every year, and have only been vaguely following the ongoing conversati...moreI could not stop reading this.
I don't watch football aside from the Superbowl every year, and have only been vaguely following the ongoing conversation about concussions around the league. Perhaps it matters more if fans read this because the people behind the science, the ones who are fighting on behalf of these players, many of them are fans too. It doesn't necessarily mean they hate the game and want to destroy it, but the evidence of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is very hard to ignore, no matter how much the league tries to do so.
I never realized how long the conversation about concussions had been around and all the politics surrounding it. The league has vehemently denied a relationship between the cumulative hits that players withstand in their career to brain damage, and from this stance has belittled the science and the people behind it, until it was no longer possible to do so, yet it is an ongoing battle. Beyond this, even within the scientific community there have been some ugly attacks and plenty of hypocrisy, for the money and/or fame. It's horrific to think about how much time has been wasted as lives are being destroyed. There's great effort in the authors' part to speak for these players beyond being merely case studies or specimens to study upon after their deaths. I applaud the investigative reporting that provided such a strong base for this book - they tried to get a lot of interviews to get the various viewpoints although as expected, not many voices from the top rung of the NFL ladder were able to speak to them.
I think I can't help but forget about just how great Bobby Orr was. I mean, he's got so many accomplishments in the sport of hockey that it's easy to...moreI think I can't help but forget about just how great Bobby Orr was. I mean, he's got so many accomplishments in the sport of hockey that it's easy to miss a few. Quite a list. As I was reading this autobiography, I realized that if you weren't even remotely familiar with Bobby Orr or a hockey fan, you wouldn't think he was that great of a player at all by reading this. Or as great a player to garner 'legend' status.
He is that humble.
This book reads more like Bobby Orr, the retired player/grandfather telling you the story of his upbringing and his time in the league, with life lessons added to the mix but very little focus on his achievements. I'm not talking about humble bragging or anything but really, he mentions his Cup wins with Boston but all of the credit goes to the coaches he's had and his teammates. If you didn't know about him beforehand, I think it's possible to think that he was just another defenseman playing on this great team, instead of being the greatest to play in that position of all-time.
It's a pleasant read. It won't do things like get new fans into the sport but if you love hockey, I think you'll enjoy this one. Bobby Orr reminisces a bit which is understandable, and actually has a few insights on the current state of the game and what he'd do. That was refreshing. It isn't really a tell-all sort of book, but nonetheless, a valuable addition to hockey writing. I think there's a terrible shortage of hockey books out there as it is. This can only be a positive thing, to have one of the greats have his say. (less)
I've been meaning to read this book for a little while now. It's likely that the World Cup looming in the not-so-distant-horizon is the push I needed....moreI've been meaning to read this book for a little while now. It's likely that the World Cup looming in the not-so-distant-horizon is the push I needed. Afterall, it's good to brush up a bit on the sport beforehand.
From the title and the cover design (the orange, mostly), I expected a soccer-themed Freakonomics book, which it pretty much is. Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, a soccer columnist and a sports economist, respectively, collaborate to look into various assumptions about and within the sport and provide their own insight using numbers.
I think I expected a bit more difficulty following the book but it's actually pretty good to read even as a newbie - I had to look up specific goals and matches mentioned but that was it. On the flip side, if you're a passionate fan this one might not be deep enough for you to get much insight from it. Some of the conclusions I could've came to on my own just from having followed other sports like hockey (mostly) and some baseball. Things like management and scouts trusting their eyes rather than the underlying numbers which provide more accurate pictures of players, terrible financial management (in which case is less of a contract issue but the transfer fee for soccer, which is different from the other sports I follow), buying players past their prime and not selling players when the market is asking for a higher than justified price, fans demanding more change and less patience, etc. All this knowledge, I feel, comes with the territory of being a sports fan.
That said, I did get a better sense of the sport for various countries around the world, especially for the ones that turned their national teams around to actually compete in the World Cup. I enjoyed the comparisons to football and the bits about the US and their relationship with soccer. The journeys to success for these teams made me wonder whether any of my countries will ever become even a semblance of a soccer threat on the world stage, but I won't put too much hope into it. Some claims felt a bit too broad despite all the charts and the narrative was lost on me.
Overall, I still enjoyed a lot out of this book and it was quite an entertaining quick read. (less)
As a new fan to F1, this wasn't as much as a book about the Phil Hill vs Wolfgang Von Trips for the 1961 championship as it was a primer on the era. I...moreAs a new fan to F1, this wasn't as much as a book about the Phil Hill vs Wolfgang Von Trips for the 1961 championship as it was a primer on the era. I didn't know how any of the races would turn out or which drivers weren't going to make it, so this book was full of surprises. I recognized a few of the names but that was about it.
Michael Cannell manages to cover a lot of different stories and characters during this dangerous era and makes it all very accessible. It's not a knock on his writing at all, but a compliment to the clarity to brings to all these storylines. I don't think it'd be a boring read even if you knew the history. It isn't that technical at all and plays out very much like a drama. There's a knack to his storytelling and foreshadowing that I really enjoyed, and a human element given to every one of these daredevils behind the wheel, no matter how briefly they were mentioned. Honestly, I'd love to read more about many of these drivers in full biography form, like Alberto Ascari, Eugenio Castelloti, Juan Manuel Fangio, Pierre Levegh, etc. It's never just about Hill and Von Trips - deaths and other events allowed them to move up the Ferrari ladder to get to that fateful 1961 season.
You also get to see some vintage photographs, including Enzo Ferrari, who really does loom over the entire story like the man he was. It's a treasure trove of a book for a newbie like me. An exciting and devastating read.(less)
I'd give anyone $10,000 if he could turn Herb Carnegie white."
This quote from Conn Smythe was how I came to learn of Herb Carnegie. It's a shame that...moreI'd give anyone $10,000 if he could turn Herb Carnegie white."
This quote from Conn Smythe was how I came to learn of Herb Carnegie. It's a shame that this book isn't more popular and better edited to do justice to Carnegie's story, because it's a remarkable one and deserves it. You don't even have to flip open the book to find errors - the above quote on the back is credited to Conn Smyth. That's ridiculous. The overall project feels haphazardly put together, but nothing can take away the strength of Herb Carnegie's voice.
The tale of Herb Carnegie began like you'd expect of many hockey players back in the day. He grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada in North York and spent many hours outdoors on the ice, skating and practicing his skills. One day, if he keeps at it, he'll be good enough to play in the NHL. Race surely wouldn't play a part in it if he was good enough, he believed. Foster Hewitt was going to announce his name on a TV broadcast someday.
He was definitely good enough. Carnegie moved up the ranks to play in the Quebec Provincial League and won MVP accolades, yet never got called up to play until the New York Rangers invited him to camp in 1948, well past the age where players of his stature would be entering the league. He ended up only getting an invite to the minors, not the NHL team, and declined. That quote from Conn Smythe was actually when Carnegie played for the Young Rangers Junior A club in Toronto back in the 1930s, seeing him on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens. That dashed his hopes of playing for the Leafs.
There's no sugarcoating any of this. Carnegie acknowledges the racism he faced as he played the game and like you'd expect, had regrets that his dream didn't pan out, but did so much more after putting up his skates. He spent time with his family, had a new career, started the Future Aces foundation to help kids, excelled in golf, and basically lived his life to the fullest.
I was fortunate enough to find a copy of this at the library because it's out of stock everywhere, even online. With the lack of good hockey books out there, this one shouldn't be forgotten. (less)
I need to do some annual re-read of this because I know there is so much that I'm missing out on with the history behind this sport. I'm aware...moreMagical.
I need to do some annual re-read of this because I know there is so much that I'm missing out on with the history behind this sport. I'm aware of all the nuances I'm missing out on, all the connections Galeano has weaved, his wit and charm throughout this book that the more knowledgeable fans will be capable of grasping, so the only thing I can do is to get a copy for myself and revisit it every year as I watch more of the sport. I know I'm missing out on something great.
You could know nothing about this sport and maybe remember some of these names for later, yet still savour every word, every turn of phrase, from this master. Games from the past come alive in brief sentences. You can hear the roar, the silence, and almost sense every dribble of the ball. There's drama and sensuality in every move, delight and regret with a goal or a save, opportunity gained and then lost, legends made and heroes reduced to mortals once again, everything you could imagine in this wondrous sport.
If only sports writing was more like this. Honestly, Galeano can write about any sport and make it beautiful. I'm sure of it. Bless his words.(less)