This kinda walks the path established by Heaven is a Playground, but resonated a bit more with me. Partly because it's more recent and so I was more fThis kinda walks the path established by Heaven is a Playground, but resonated a bit more with me. Partly because it's more recent and so I was more familiar with the characters on the periphery. It was interesting to read about coaches in their younger days who are still around and of course, Stephon Marbury as a kid. Partly because it goes a little harder at the system of "amateur" athletics, which at every level preaches lofty ideal but is often at cross purposes with those ideals, with the same issues all these years later. Partly because I just liked the kids. Looking up what happened next is depressing. But for some one who invests as much interest in college basketball as I do, it's important to remember the numerous and extremely serious flaws in the system, and this book is a great reminder....more
As a wrestling fan, it can be difficult to find intelligent wrestling commentary. I became familiar with The Masked Man, aka David Shoemaker, mainly tAs a wrestling fan, it can be difficult to find intelligent wrestling commentary. I became familiar with The Masked Man, aka David Shoemaker, mainly through his work at Grantland, and have always found him to be an interesting and thought provoking read on the subject.
There is a lot of interesting history and stories in the book. However, I think it suffers from the format. Chapters focus on a particular wrestler, similar to his Dead Wrestler of the Week columns, but as a result, there's a lot of repeated material as the histories of various wrestlers intersect. This is fine for columns that stand by themselves, but in a book, it becomes off-putting. Since it's all told from a third party perspective, there isn't much gained from hearing the same story in a different context.
I think, to some degree, the book would be improved if it cut the number of wrestlers it focused on, and went longer form on a small number. Andre the Giant may be the last person who is as much legend as reality. People spinning yarns about Andre the Giant is probably a very good book unto itself, but here he's just the guy between Junkyard Dog and Lou Albano (that's a little unfair: Andre is never "just the guy" to a wrestling fan and Shoemaker is no different. But it illustrates the point). I don't mean to say either in particular should have been cut, but I don't think thought was given to the fact including more wrestlers implicitly cut the attention given to any individual.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and would be eager to have more by Shoemaker. I'm somewhat critical only because there is so little quality content on the subject, and I know what he's capable of delivering. Any wrestling fan should definitely pick this one up....more
I'm a huge UK fan. I've even met noted Kentucky fan Lindsay Smith. But Jay has time and time again shown himself to be an excellent analyst despite hiI'm a huge UK fan. I've even met noted Kentucky fan Lindsay Smith. But Jay has time and time again shown himself to be an excellent analyst despite his nefarious origins, so I gave his book a chance. Definitely worth a read. ...more
Looks like most of these reviews start off with an explanation of where the reviewer fits on a scale of predisposition to interest in this book. I nevLooks like most of these reviews start off with an explanation of where the reviewer fits on a scale of predisposition to interest in this book. I never read Titus' blog, but I love college basketball and have read and enjoyed his articles on Grantland. I think that's like a 7.5.
This book is an entertaining read thanks to Titus' engaging style and sense of humor. My main complaint is that he zips through four years at warp speed. I put the book down convinced there was more that should have been in it. Now, I've complained that a book was too short and fast paced approximately zero times before now, so Mr. Titus, you can take this as whatever the opposite of a backhanded compliment is (front handed insult?). Maybe you felt like a lot of the material that could of been in here was already up on your blog and you didn't want to rehash it. But I would have loved a little more heft here....more