Spiros's Reviews > High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time

High Heat by Tim Wendel
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Mar 18, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: arc, beisbol, vacationreads
Recommended for: those who enjoy flimsily-premised Baseball books
Read from March 09 to 15, 2010

Despite the fact that Mr. Wendel seems to share my enthusiasm for BULL DURHAM, I can't say that this book made a favorable impression on me; frankly, the whole thing seems kind of jumbled. Apparently, he quested after the answer to "life, the universe, and everything...": no, sorry: wrong under-specified question. He apparently wanted to find out who threw the fastest fast ball, or the best fastball: we're never sure which. So he spends time on Steve Dalkowski, who threw fastballs through wooden fences, but struck out exactly as many Major League hitters as Nuke LaLoosh, Siddhartha Finch, and Fidel Castro, combined; and he spends time on Timmy Lincecum, the anti-Dalkowski, whose heat does everything Dalkowski's cheese didn't: it has movement, it goes where Timmy wants it to go, and Timmy knows how to use it, it's a grade-A hum-dinger. Only problem is, it's the third or fourth fastest heater on his own team, behind Brian Wilson's, Dan Runzler's, and possibly Jonathan Sanchez's. He lists Rich Gossage as having the tenth best fastball of all time, but I can't recall any mention of the Goose in the body of the book. Also, I feel that Sandy Koufax was given short shrift.
In addition, Wendel falls victim to the "gosh-gee-whiz, they sure don't make pitchers like they used to" school of writing: true enough, but they don't make Senators, bookstore clerks, or Baseball writers like they used to, either; according to Kinky Friedman, they ain't even making Jews like Jesus any more, but I don't see what any of that has to do with determining relative quality or speed of fastballs. Furthermore, I'm not clear on what is "ironic" about Bob Feller injuring himself on Friday the Thirteenth.
In a word, Wendel writes the way Nuke Laloosh...pitches: "kinda all over the place".
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