With it being the thirtieth anniversary of the 1986 Mets, I figured we would be seeing more than a fair share of Mets related books. It is inevitable that some are going to be really good and some are going to be repetitious and unnecessary. I mean how many ways would authors be able to spin the Mets and their championship year. While so far this year there has been heavy saturation in the market of the 1986 Mets I am glad to say today’s book is one of the good ones out there.
When I first saw this one from Matthew Silverman I was a little hesitant. I reviewed his previous work Swinging ’73 and was a little disappointed. In the end I am glad I gave this one a chance because it was a great history lesson for a non-Mets fan.
Silverman walks the reader through a brief Mets history, from their inception in 1962, through their rough patch in the early 80’s. He shows the ups and downs of the franchise during that period and also shows how the wheels were set in motion for their winning of the World Series in 1986. He looks at player drafts and personnel moves that helped shaped a solid nucleus for the Mets. Finally some free agent acquisitions put the icing on the cake for the Mets to become a powerhouse in the National League East.
Next the author guides the reader through the 1986 season and shows events that transpired both hurting and helping the Mets as the season progressed. The post-season is then showcased for the reader to see how destiny played some sort of role in getting the Mets the World Series trophy when all the dust settled. It shows how hungry the Mets and their fan base truly were for a winner in Queens and how beloved the team had become in New York.
The final section of the book looks at the decline of the Mets and how they never repeated their championship. It is a very interesting look at what demons haunted the team and how in the end a lot of these personal demons were the demise of the Mets. You expect injuries to be a problem with a team, but some of those issues that plagued this team were unforeseeable.
Matthew Silverman has done a nice job with this book. It shows the complete story of what the 1986 New York Mets were all about. The book does not just show the team at the top of its game. He shows the reader the complete bell curve of the team and why certain movements on that curve happened when they did. Silverman has a very tough road ahead of him in the fact that he has so much competition this year in the field of New York Mets books. He did a great job of keeping the reader entertained and the story moving along at a good pace. He covered a lot of ground in this book and none if it felt like it was being glossed over. If you are a fan of Mets baseball you should check this one out, because it paints a very complete picture of the team.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press
This time of year with Spring Training in full swing, it reminds us of all the exciting possibilities this upcoming year has to offer. Everyone is looking forward to all the games and highlights in the near future, but the business end of baseball is the furthest thing from most fans minds. Truth be told, somewhere, someone is attending to the business end of the game and always has. Most fans don’t think about the contract negotiations that take place, the players working conditions that the union fights for or the meal money stipend the players get. These are all the realities of the game and have been for decades. It may be hard to comprehend for the average fan why these are important and further more how they arrived at where they stand today, but today’s book takes the time to explain what has transpired throughout the history of the game in regards to working conditions.
Krister Swanson has created a really interesting book. It starts from the very early years of the game and shows what relations were like between the owners and players. It was more of a parental relationship versus a business one. It shows how the owners were able to realize what an advantages they had in the reserve clause and how to use it to their own benefit. The author shows how owners were able to maintain low salaries and reap all the rewards without having to share almost anything with their players.
Swanson also shows that the players started to realize how they were being exploited by the owners and attempted to improve conditions both on the field and monetarily. The few feeble attempts at first which finally led to the formation of the MLBPA are chronicled in these pages. I don’t think the owners or the establishment of the game itself had any idea what the possibilities were for the newly formed union. It shows the union’s rise to power, how the media helped that and the fans sympathy that would help them along their journey. The book also covers the few short strikes and lockouts along the way that occurred, just to keep things interesting.
The problem I had with the book is it seemed to stop the history lesson after the 1981 players strike. I know as a fan, there were other strikes that occurred after 1981 and they were very influential on the shape of the game we now know. Obviously there are other books out there that cover these strikes, but I think for complete coverage of the topic it should have been included in some shape or form in this book. The only other problem I had was it said that Bob Feller played his entire career for the Braves. I mean for me that is a huge error that should have been caught by someone.
Overall this is a very entertaining book. It gives a great and thorough history lesson that even the most die hard baseball fan will be able to gain some knowledge from, plus the early years of labor relations within the game are not always widely covered.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
When you do the same job for several decades it can get stale. You get to the point that nothing new ever really happens and you just start phoning in your job. You do the bare minimum just to skate by until you wind up retiring. Now this is true for most of us, but if you are lucky enough to have a job that no two days are ever the same, it’s totally different. You can’t wait to get to work and enjoy all the ups and downs of your job. Now most of us obviously fall into the former description, but if you are the New York Yankees beat writer like Phil Pepe was for several decades, you have a ton of great stories filed away in the memory bank just waiting to be shared. Todays book does just that.
This would probably be a dream job to most Yankee fans. Following the team day in and day out, mingling among the legends and almost becoming an extension of the team itself. While I am sure it is not a walk in the park every single day, I can think of a few professions that this would highly rank above.
Phil Pepe takes the reader on a journey with this book through several decades of Yankee stories. It is personal, first hand interactions with the team and stories he has witnessed in his years covering the team. He takes us from Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio all the way up through Derek Jeter. In between those two icons the book is filled with stories about other Yankee legends that donned the pinstripes while he was their beat writer. If you look at it from a historical standpoint this was a great time to be covering the team, because the baseball history he has witnessed is amazing.
This is a typical Pepe book in the style in which it is written. I have always found his books to be engaging and able to pull the reader into the story and make them feel like they were there as well. Phil Pepe has a real knack for getting the reader into a story and holding onto them until the very end. Perhaps I am a little biased because the other books he has written have ranked up there among my favorites. I am not sure if this was Pepe’s swan song for his distinguished career, but if it was he goes out on the top of his field. He shows his skill and dedication to his craft and does not use it as any sort of retribution towards people in the stories he tells. He tells stories that the everyday fan would never have known about if not told in this book. I found these stories in no way to be malicious or scandalous in any way, it was just more of a fun reflection on his career covering the Yankees.
Baseball fans and Yankee fans especially will enjoy this one. Its just a lot of fun stories from a raunchy locker room that is not always visible to the public. Readers should give this one a shot, I don’t think they will be dissapointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing