I wasn't alive when the Loveable Losers were formed, but I'd like to think that if I lived in New York at the time, I would have been a Mets fan. I'mI wasn't alive when the Loveable Losers were formed, but I'd like to think that if I lived in New York at the time, I would have been a Mets fan. I'm sure I would have, seeing that I loved the Tigers before they went to the series in '06 (just three years out of being one loss shy of tying the Mets 120 loss record) and I hate the Yankees. If you hate the Yankees in live in New York, you have to like the Mets for your NL team. (For the record, I also hate Boston, since they are just like the Yankees, only even more insufferable).
Breslin's writing is classic, old-school sports journalism, and it reads like you're sitting down with him for a whisky at a sports-bar. You're both smoking Pal Malls, and the radio is carrying the races out at the Aqueduct. That's what this reads like, and he can spin out a bone-headed sports yarn like no bodies business. I think it would be hilarious even if you didn't like baseball; if you do, his timing is fantastic, and you sort of want to travel back to '62 so you can sit in the Polo Grounds with a T-Shirt reading VREM. ...more
Lewis' writing is so engaging and enjoyable that I think I would read anything by him -- I don't care about football at all, but I think I'll pick upLewis' writing is so engaging and enjoyable that I think I would read anything by him -- I don't care about football at all, but I think I'll pick up Blind Side, but because I'm sure it will be fascinating and fun (though I'll wait until late October). I'll be repeating about every blurb on the back of the book, but even if you don't care about baseball, this will be thoroughly enjoyable. Lewis captures the grand sweep of the game and business of baseball, while also sketching out some of the most memorable character portraits I've read in a while. He casts the narrative as a series of David verses Goliath tales -- A's v. Yankees, sabermetrics v. old-scout-intuition, odd-ball players v. stereotypes of what an athlete looks like, Billy Beane v. all of baseball. I don't know enough about the world of baseball or the real nuts-and-bolts of the sport to know how much is just Lewis' spin on things, but his take is convincing, and (more importantly) lots of fun to read. I polished this off in little over 24 hours, and just wish it had been twice as long....more
I requested this book from the library expecting to love it, but the first few pages were so choked with baseball nostalgia of endless days of summer,I requested this book from the library expecting to love it, but the first few pages were so choked with baseball nostalgia of endless days of summer, boys growing to be gods in the green cathedrals of yesteryear, the tragic ending in the bitter days of autumn, blah blah blah. I almost put it down before I got through the intro. But I'm very glad I kept at it, because it ended up being wonderful -- if not at all what I expected when I decided to read it.
I thought I was going to get the story of the 50's Brooklyn Dodgers, which the book is only partly about. What I got was two books -- Kahn's memoir of growing up in Brooklyn (which itself is drenched in that special sort of Old Brooklyn nostalgia, but it has its own kitchen appeal), becoming a journalist, and his experience reporting on the team. It is very personal, and very revealing of the people and society of the time. The spirit of the book circles around Jackie Robinson, but Kahn does Robinson a great service by NOT making the book about him, and instead casting him as a talented ball player, who just happened to be strong enough and stubborn enough to shoulder the burden of the civil rights movement, but who also was just one part of an amazing baseball team.
The second book is what I wasn't expecting, but was even more engaging -- Kahn tracks down all the players in the 70's and writes about what happened to them since. No one will even be able to write this book again, as if you track down A-Rod and Derek Jeter in 20 years, they'll still be living in their mansions and dating models. The ballplayers in the 50's retired to get middle-management jobs or tend bars, gaining weight and moving on as regular men who just happened to be super-stars for a few brief years in their youth. It
When Kahn explicitly writes about baseball, he gets overblown and syrupy sweet, but strangely when he writes about the men who played the game -- which 90% of the book is -- he allows them and their actions to speak for themselves. He could easily have beaten "the twilight of the gods" themes to death, but wisely opts for restraint, which actually lends the boom more power. ...more
This book says that it is aimed at people who know enough about baseball to know what a line-drive is, but not enough to know much more than that, andThis book says that it is aimed at people who know enough about baseball to know what a line-drive is, but not enough to know much more than that, and it pretty much delivers exactly what it claims. I enjoyed reading it - it was fast, full of fun little tid-bits and asides, and as a neophite baseball fan, I finally understood what a squeeze play is and not only what the infield fly rule is but why the rule exists.
That said, about 75% of the information in the book I had already picked up just by watching games over the past year, and there are long stretches where the book reads like its aimed at 8 year-olds. A few sections feel like filler. If parts seemed too simplistic for ME (and I still can't quite match every team to the correct league), then most ball fans don't need this....more
First, it gives you a manager's level, from-the-fox-hole level understanding of the complexities that go into everThis book does two things very well:
First, it gives you a manager's level, from-the-fox-hole level understanding of the complexities that go into every at-bat and every inning in a regular series game. I don't think I'll ever scream "What the hell was he thinking!" after watching a manager leave a struggling pitcher in only to have them give up a home-run. This book really shows you the nearly infinate variables a manager is juggling: statistical, personal, interpersonal, strategical and tactical. Bissinger disects the game from the dugout, the pitcher's mound, the locker-room, the manager and general-manager's office and every other possible angle that can go into a game. As a recent convert to the game (thanks to my Detroit raised partner, for whom last year was like the second coming), this book really opened my eyes to how much is going on at every second of the game.
Second, it's a gripping page-turner. At times Bissinger stretched a single at-bat over three pages -- a single at-bat in the middle of a regular season game from four years ago between two teams I don't follow and who don't even play in the same league as the Tigers -- and I was biting my nails, almost missing my stop on the subway, forcing myself not to skim ahead to see if the batter struck out or made it to first.
That Bissinger could do either of these things is impressive, that he could make an in-depth sports wonk book AND still make it a tense, roller-coaster ride is astounding. Add his poetic prose brings a lump to your throat when talking about LaRussa's love of the game and the romantic magic of baseball....more
I was enjoying this book, but the problem was that Mulzer enjoyed it even more, so instead of waiting for me to slowly finish reading it aloud to herI was enjoying this book, but the problem was that Mulzer enjoyed it even more, so instead of waiting for me to slowly finish reading it aloud to her before bed ("slowly," as most nights I fall asleep after a page or two), she read it herself and finished it. So now I have to read it by myself, but I've got all these other books I'm reading that seem more pressing than a magical fairy-tale based around baseball....more
A fun, rollicking narration of 1908, a year that Ms. Murphy claims is the "Greatest Year in Baseball." Whether that is true or not (the utterly anticlA fun, rollicking narration of 1908, a year that Ms. Murphy claims is the "Greatest Year in Baseball." Whether that is true or not (the utterly anticlimactic Wold Series (Chicago beat Detroit 4-1, the first two games being shut-outs undermines that claim a bit), the year certainly was dramatic in the NL, and filled with mazing characters. 1908 is far enough back that only a few of the players are house-hold names (Wagner,, Cobb, Young), but modern enough that the game is the game we all know and love -- not a collection of mustachioed miners in high-collars and breast-shields playing without gloves on the "one-bounce out" rule.
Ms. Murphy does an amazing job of getting across each players eccentricities (and there are a lot to cover -- both players and eccentricities) as well as narrating games in tense, exciting fashion. The latter is no small feat, as she covers the entire season, and gives fairly complete coverage of a huge number of games.
The book does, at times, suffer from the authors utter exuberance at her rich source material, as anecdotes can digress into further anecdotes, the names, dates, and history threatening to pool into one overwhelming mess. The historical background is fascinating, but I'd find myself reading a crooked Tammery Hall politician, and realize I had no idea how she'd got there - -when that digression comes in the middle of the history of a player who wasn't hired by the manager who is making the substitution in the 7th inning of a game Murphy was describing, the reader can be excused for getting losing the narrative thread a few times.
The over all effect however, is thrilling and loads of fun. If nothing else, I now love Rube Waddell, who "in 1903, had a good season; once he finally bothered to show up in June, he won twenty-one games and led the league in strikeouts. It was a busy year in other ways, too: he also starred on vaudeville; led a a marching band through Jacksonville; got engaged, married, and separated; rescued a log from downing (he thought it was a woman); accidentally shot a friend; and was bitten by a lion." Try to top THAT A-Rod. TTBRMMWTRT....more
This is not a book that you think a non-fantasy baseball playing non-sports nut would like; I've only followed baseball for a year, and I still have aThis is not a book that you think a non-fantasy baseball playing non-sports nut would like; I've only followed baseball for a year, and I still have a hard time remembering which teams are in the National League and which are in the American, let alone being able to understand what would drive someone to absorb so many numbers about so many players in order to play a game.
Okay, coming from a man who is currently reading a rule-book for mass combat in a role-playing game he knows he will never play, perhaps "not able to understand" is a bit of a stretch, but my point is still valid. Wait, I haven't made my point yet. My point is that I'm loving this book even though I know little about baseball and nothing about fantasy baseball. Walker is a great writer and keeps the book moving along with a light, very witty touch....more