Tim's Reviews > Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure

Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson
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's review
Jul 20, 2011

really liked it

This coffee-table volume dishes up informative, instructive, and intriguing aspects about the Boys of Summer. The British-born author-illustrator journals his adoption of America’s pastime, pens his love for the New York Yankees, and inventories his visits to actual and virtual baseball venues. His scant pages of text (headlined with cute bobblehead figures) are interspaced with ample visuals, paintings, maps, and other illustrations that pump colorful life into otherwise boring actuarial categories.

The intriguing title should captivate a buyer’s interest as to the suggested nature of this work. “Flip Flop”? Well, this folio publication won’t easily be packed along with your sandals and suntan lotion when you strike out for the beach. It infers sporadic consultation, not a page-turning read. “Fly” is a nod to the New York comic-book artist-illustrator, Fly, renown for her cover artwork, collage portraits, and graphic-novel prints. “Fly Book” suggests a multimedia treatment, but it might not really prepare the user for the plethora plotting. The coined subtitle claims to be “infographic” and not interactive—you weren’t expecting a pop-up edition, were you?

The oversized format (9” x 12”) is necessary to present the bar-, column-, and scatter-graphs as well as the Venn diagrams, timelines, and other charts. There are some displays that run across several pages and there are some tables that are rendered almost indecipherable because of darkly shaded background colors. Clever book marketing might have included a full-page magnifier or an inexpensive jeweler’s loupe for the user to easily read the inserted tiny texts on these pages.

Robinson scores multiple offbeat hits that might not be discovered elsewhere like a list of ballpark smoking areas, a schematic of baseball organizations in Taiwan, or a dimensional diagram of the stack of pennies equaled in Alex Rodriguez’s salary. He slides in spaces for Independent, Minor, Negro and Women’s Pro Leagues; but he has neglected Mexican ball clubs, although foreign-born players are included in other plats.

This work flops as an ordinary sports encyclopedia that might focus on ERA or RBI stats. And yet, there are abundant baseball data included that will help the armchair enthusiast answer the local TV broadcaster’s trivia question during a game. The book is a unique visual almanac for a sport that normally is crazed with statistics.

A true-blue diehard may flip through the book, tracing a favorite team, its history, rankings or personnel. A casual fan should appreciate the vivid offerings that render a European’s global vision of America’s favorite sport. And the casual observer might learn about some arcane tidbits, such the use of a squatchee (baseball cap button).

This could be a take-along, summertime reading. Just don’t forget to pack a loupe.

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