Baseball is a game that offers something for everyone. It caters to varying tastes and personalities, while offering satisfaction for everyone who enjoys the game. Each person wants to experience the game on their own terms and get whatever level of enjoyment that satisfies them personally, and that is perfectly alright with the baseball gods. Tim Kurkjian has spent his professional life following baseball and has once again given us more reasons to love the game we all enjoy.
I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies offers a unique look at various aspects of the game of baseball. From sounds and rules to superstitions and various quirks, this book gives the reader a glimpse behind the curtain of the mental part of the game itself off the field. It is not something you find often in a baseball book authored by a game reporter.
Under no circumstances is this book to be considered heavy lifting in the literary realm. It is a light and breezy book that moves the reader through the anecdotes quickly. Some of the stories you may recognize as having been mentioned in other books, but they still fit nicely within the confines of this book. If you are looking for a strong literary masterpiece you came to the wrong place with this one, but it really does lend it self to an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon of reading. I mean really where else would we find out why Pete Rose left federal prison and went right to a batting cage.
I tend to shy away from books like this because I don’t always trust what I am getting from certain other authors. With Tim Kurkjian I always get what I expect from his books. His enthusiasm and love of the game always shine through and make the stories enjoyable and add some extra credence to them as well.
Like I said above, there is no heavy lifting with this one. And quite honestly, as many books as I read in a year, a book like this is welcome sight. It reminds the reader of the fun and quirky side of the game as opposed to the big business and on high stress persona it portrays so often. It also gives the mind a break while allowing me to still stay in the baseball realm.
Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed. It is honestly a couple hours well spent with your favorite sport.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Martins Press
I am sitting here on the northern edge of a monumental blizzard that is wreaking havoc on the eastern seaboard. While I am not lucky enough to be getting the awesome amounts of snow that the big cities are getting, at least we saw something out of this storm. In sports and baseball in particular through the last several decades, the media outlets have exploded. Much like this winter storm they have made an indelible mark on our society that may never be forgotten. ESPN especially has made their mark and on sports other than just baseball. Their self proclaimed moniker of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, holds true and may never be seriously challenged. Now there is a book that takes an in depth look at how ESPN became the king of sports media.
Travis Vogan has taken an inside look at how ESPN has come from their roots of showing Australian Rules Football as their main programming and using ramshackle sets to becoming the go to source for all sports information. They found a niche that obviously America wanted to fill and took advantage of that.
This book shows that through their rise in power in the sports media industry they have been able to push agendas, create superstars both on and off the field and also create a rapport with their viewers like no other sports media outlet ever has been able to or probably ever will. They have created a success that will be tough to ever repeat because of how much of a stronghold they have been able to place over the industry.
Travis Vogan has written a very interesting book that gives you the ins and outs of a media empire. I realize they do more than baseball but did include them on here, because they have been able to do some innovative things through the years where the game was concerned. They also have dedicated some serious air time to the sport, in so many different ways that other networks were not interested in doing. They have been a great partner in helping Major League Baseball grow.
Baseball fans should check this out because it is very informative and helps you understand what they have truly given to each and every fan of the game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at University of Illinois Press
There was a time not too long ago in this great land, that the entire world was not at your fingertips. You could not hop on your computer, or pick up your cell phone and see almost instantaneously what was going on in the world. Hard core sports fans had to wait until the local or national scribes pieced together stories for the newspapers. With that delay in place fans had come to rely on their writers for accurate details and vivid pictures painted through the use of words. It helped form a bond between writer and fan that could last a lifetime. The saying goes, the cream always rises to the top, and the sports reporting field is not exempt from that wise saying. Now there are two books that celebrate and give their just due to two of the giants of their field.
Red Smith and W.C. Heinz are easily two of the most recognizable names in the sports reporting world. They both made writing look easy. Each was able to relay countless stories to hundreds of thousands of fans in a way that endeared them to almost every reader. Their knowledge of multiple sports and of people in general, allowed them to cover various sports and appeal to different generations.
Library of America has produced two great books that compile some of the best writing of each. W.C. Heinz’s writings cover everything from Horse Racing, to Football, to Rodeo and of course Baseball. His knowledge and insight give the reader a great account of events and allow for you to get a great picture in your mind’s eye as to how the games unfolded. The same can easily be said for Red Smith. His ability to cover multiple sports allows the reader to have a plethora of choices in topics to read, learn, relive and enjoy.
Books that are compilation books of a reporters articles usually scare me off. I always feel like they are grasping for content to fill an entire book and sometimes you don’t get the greatest of articles in the book. Happily that can not be said about these books, the articles chosen are all of great quality, and each book gives you over 500 pages of great writings.
Writers like this are a great link to the history of our favorite sports. They can take us back to a simpler time and allow the fans to gain some insight on events that the history books may have missed. If you ask most people who their favorite author is, you will get an answer of at least some person. If you ask a sports fan, they may not answer with an author, but more than likely a sports writer. These two men are credits to the writing industry, the sports that they covered, and both will be remembered for generations to come for their contributions to recording the history of each one’s chosen game.
Normally I say that Baseball fans would enjoy these, but honestly, all sports fans will enjoy these books. The sports covered in the writings are so varied, that if you are not well versed in certain sports as you would like, you may learn some new things.
You can get these books from the nice folks at The Library of America
Different point of views are very important in baseball. If you have one hundred people see the same thing, you will get one hundred different takes on what just happened. This is one of the things that makes the game so great. Everyone gets to enjoy it on a personal level and make their own connection with the events as they unfold. Certain writers help the fans understand what they see out on the field, and help them digest the events so that they get full comprehension of what just happened on the field. Jayson Stark’s new book is one of those that helps fans understand what has just happened.
Being from Philadelphia I am very familiar with Jayson Stark’s work. From his days as a Phillies beat reporter to his current ESPN gig, I have enjoyed his work. He always seems to have a good grasp on what the average fan is seeing and has a way to confirm to that person that they are right. He talks to fans in his writings on a level they understand and never tries to prove how smart he is about baseball. It almost feels that you are just sitting around talking to a friend when you read one of his columns.
Wild Pitches is no different in that talking to a friend feel. It seems to be mostly a compilation of some of his previous articles of baseball events after the year 2000. It covers all the big events in the league and some of the not so big ones, but does present a nice mix of teams to the reader. Stark’s writings give you background on the events and then his take on the events and why he feels they are important. They are always well thought out and presented to the reader in a way that is easy to understand and enjoy. The only down side to this book was that the stories were not in chronological order. The end result was the book jumped around a little bit, but most readers will get over that fact.
To me, and I say this without any bias, I always enjoy Stark’s writing. I don’t have to stop and look up words after the fact, when I read his books. Honestly I don’t like it when any writer prints something and gets cute with his word choice, because in the end the reader (me) feels like an idiot. Sometimes in baseball a little bit of being down-to-earth goes a long way. Baseball fans will really enjoy this book, because it covers all the teams not just the Phillies. But on a side note, his Phillies piece in this book is exceptional, especially the chapter about Harry Kalas. You can take the boy out of Philadelphia, but I don’t think they will ever be able to take the Philadelphia out of the boy.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books.