No matter who you are, if you are a baseball fan, you have opinions on how to make the game better. It could be ways to speed up the game, a way to play the game more effectively or even personnel decisions that would alter the complexion of your team. Regardless of what your ideas are, more than likely they will fall on deaf ears. Now if you are a baseball lifer like today’s author, you automatically gain some credence to your ideas just because of the experience and respect you have attained during your career.
Buck Martinez has been a solid baseball lifer. Spending a career as an on field back up Catcher, he had the opportunity to study the game during his three team stop in the major leagues. His final stop in Toronto seemed to provide him the best education and allow him to find as permanent a home as one can find in baseball. His post retirement career as both field manager and television analyst have continued his baseball education and allowed him to become one of the most respected minds in baseball.
This book has almost a Frankenstein feel to it. It really could have been several different stand alone books all by the same author, but here it is rolled all in to one product. The first part of the book that Buck gives the reader, is his childhood and playing career. You see his love of the game from his youth and how he worked himself hard to become a major leaguer. He was for most of his time in the major leagues a back up or fringe player which allowed him to study the game. All three teams, The Royals, Brewers and Blue Jays, were all fairly bad teams that were attempting to build a quality product on the field and Buck was part of the construction of all three. It was those three stops that Buck learned what it took to be a winner and how to build success.
After his playing days were over Buck found a home as an analyst for the Blue Jays and has made himself a vital part of the Jays TV crew and a respected voice from the booth. His analyst career was interrupted by a brief and not so successful stint as Blue Jays manager. It was a wrong place, wrong time career move, that if it was under a different set of circumstances, may have turned out much different.
The third part of this book conglomeration is Buck’s opinions of what works and does not work within today’s game. He cites examples of who he thinks is playing and respecting the game at the correct level. He also presents some ideas that he thinks would improve the game. He has some decent ideas that someone within the game and the powers that be, may want to stop and take a look at. They are not way out ideas and would help enhance the game as we know it today.
When you think of Buck Martinez you don’t think of a Hall of Fame player. While he had an average career, he has made himself a spectacular student of the game and makes educated and well thought out suggestions to improve the game. If you are looking for an educated view of the current game this may be a book you would want to check out. He presents his ideas in ways that would improve the game without disrupting its natural flow. The book showed a whole new side of Buck Martinez to me and allowed me to gain a whole new respect for him.
You can get this book from the nice folks at HarperCollins
One of the downsides of growing older for me is seeing all of your baseball idols pass on. I understand it is a normal part of life and is ultimately inevitable, but it still sucks. No matter what team pulls at your heart-strings and makes your blood boil at times, how could you not like Yogi Berra? With his passing today baseball has lost another great ambassador to the game. They have lost another link to the golden era of the game and New York baseball. If you look closely these links are becoming few and far between. It is just a normal part of life but still not one I find any appreciation for. You are hard pressed to find anyone that had a bad thing to say about Yogi. A modest character who at times seemed bigger than life but was a down to earth guy who loved his wife, his family and of course his game.
Yogi was the author of an incredible career that was capped by Hall of Fame enshrinement in 1972. An imported New Yorker through and through, he became a symbol of one of the things that made New York great. His death is not just a loss for New York or the Yankees and Mets, but all of baseball. Every team, league, player, manager, coach, executive and fan has lost something here and is in some way a fan of Yogi’s. Everyone has heard some sort of version of one of his Yogisms and honestly they even make their way to non-baseball fans. His death transcends just the baseball world and may even be considered a loss for the entire world. Everyone had opinions of the players who are considered the games greats. Mantle Williams, DiMaggio and even Duke Snider, people either loved them or hated them, and there are plenty of both. But in all honesty it seems that everyone loved Yogi. It’s easy to leave your mark on the game of baseball if you have talent, but he has left his mark on people, which is an even bigger accomplishment.
So how does all this tie into baseball books, since that is what this blog is about? Well much like other popular subjects, there are a lot of Yogi books. If you havent taken the time to look at any of them, maybe you should. Most are a joy to read and give the readers an opportunity to see what the man was like behind the scenes. He seems to be a very what you see is what you get kind of guy. He was nobody’s fool and seemed like a great guy. So take the time to pick one up you wont regret it, and this is coming from a self-proclaimed Yankee hater.
Godspeed Yogi, we’re gonna miss ya!