I am all about giving respect where respect is due. As always, anniversaries are a great way to show respect. Baseball has never been one to shy away from commemorating something either big or small, or both. 2016 is the 30th anniversary of the last Mets World Series winner and the events marking that this year have been coming at fans both fast and furiously. The book arena has been no exception to these celebrations, and while we have covered several of these in previous posts, I think I have the last two out there this year that I am going to do. It is amazing how much time and money has been spent this year for this one and done World Series winner, but for me, it is time and I am ready to put this subject to bed. So without further ado, here are the final two books.
Originally released in 1995 One Pitch Away takes a unique look at all the post-season teams in 1986. You get perspectives from several key members who played for one of the four teams, which is a nice change, because most of these books about 1986 only cover the World Series teams. You get a real good feel as to what was going through the heads of those involved during this amazing post-season.
I first read this when it was released in 1995. My initial reaction then was the same as it is now. It gives great insight into the games from the players themselves and Sowell’s work comes through strong. The interviews seem well prepared for by both parties and is time well spent reading about the fab-four of the 1986 post-season.
If you are a fan of any of the teams involved check out this book, I don’t think you will be disappointed. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books. One Pitch Away
The next book brings us to current times with the 2015 Mets. By winning the division last year the Mets re-captured the hearts of the New York faithful in the Big Apple. After a decade and a half or so of the Yankees being the toast of New York, it was nice to see the love spread around town.
Greg Prince who runs his own New York Mets blog, also has written about the Mets several times before. He has an intense love for his team and it shows in his writing. He takes a thorough look at the colorful cast of characters the Mets were able to put together for their improbable run in 2015. If you are a fan of the Mets it is a fun reflection on an improbable year. It is for sure a good read, but will probably be more enjoyable in 10 or 15 years when time has passed and the limelight has faded on this particular team. This is another book that is time well spent reading today, but as it ages will become even more valuable to certain fans. You can get this from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
I have always admired those people in life that have found their true calling. Those people who love what they do and can’t wait to go to work each day. It also seems that those same people have an extraordinary amount of success at their chosen profession. Perhaps they success and happiness work hand in hand, or maybe it’s just luck. Todays book is a look back of a truly succesful life……….
Winning in Both Leagues – Reflections From Baseballs Front Office
By: Frank Cahsen-2014 University of Nebraska Press
Frank Cashen was a man of many triumphs. Regardless of what field he chose to partake in, he always found a high level of success. Cashen worked in the newspaper business, breweries and baseball, for both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets. He won championships with both teams and instituted winning traditions in each city.
Frank Cashen seems to have written this book without the help of any co-author. This book is well written and thought out progressing through each part of his life. He gives open accounts of family life and his business endeavors outside of baseball. What takes up most of the book is reviewing his time in both Baltimore and New York, with more attention being given to the latter city.
With his first baseball stop being in Baltimore, Cashen essentially felt he was the benefactor of some of his predecessors work. Due to that fact I think he takes more pride in his time in New York. Since he re-built the Mets system from the ground up you can understand why he had some extra pride in their success. The Mets were never my favorite team during Cashen’s tenure mainly because of their fans. When the Mets would come to Philadelphia to play the Phillies their fans would follow in droves. Most of them were a little overbearing and sometimes drunk and made life in Veterans Stadium miserable. It was not the team’s fault,but still they bore the brunt of my hatred.
There was only one thing about this book that left me questioning its motives. It obviously is the memoirs of Frank Cashen’s entire life and career. With its release in early 2014 and his subsequent death not long after, why was this book written. Did Frank know the end was near or was it just coincidental timing. I am sure we will never have a definitive answer but I get the feeling that it was the former reason. Overall this is a very well written book that baseball fans will enjoy no matter where your team allegiance lies.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Nebraska Press
I will admit, Bill Giles was never one of my favorite people. I am from the generation that grew up during Mr. Giles hands on, upper level management of my beloved Phillies. Except for one year after Giles’ ownership group purchased the team, the 80’s were not necessarily a great time to be a Phillies fan. His hands on management style and GM skills left a little bit to be desired for the Philadelphia faithful. I expected todays book to a biography on Bill Giles and his time in Philly, but got so much more………………
Bill Giles & Baseball
By John B. Lord 2014-Temple University Press
I did realize Bill Giles was a lifer in the baseball world, before I read this book. From his early beginnings, training under Gabe Paul with the Cincinnati Reds to his final destination as the Chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies. Giles has been an innovator, marketing wizard, peace maker, media genius and almost everything in between.
As stated above, I expected a normal everyday biography on Giles, instead I got a glimpse into the substantial impact he has had on the game. The author gives you some brief history of the game itself, then jumps in with both feet covering the economic challenges to the game during the 80’s and 90’s. You go through year by year exploring topics such as labor unrest, collusion, commissioner powers, media deals, revenue sharing, league restructuring and inter-league play. You learn how Bill Giles had a hand in fixing some of these issues as well as being the person who made some of the new ideas a reality.
John B. Lord does not forget to cover the positive impact he has had in Philadelphia. This was a good chapter for a Phillies fan because sometimes we tend to forget there are positives that exist with Giles ownership. You get an inside look at the building of Citizens Bank Park and all the hurdles that had to be cleared to make the project come to fruition. Finally you get a glimpse at what its like to assemble a championship caliber team in a city that loves winners.
The author did a great job showing the true value of Bill Giles. He has made valuable contributions to both Philadelphia and the overall structure of baseball. Being a cynical Phillies fan, I myself have probably overlooked some of the value of Mr. Giles. This book has changed my overall perception of him and has allowed me to look past the failings during the 80’s.
For baseball fans, this book is informative and well written and gives you a look at how the baseball establishment runs itself. I don’t think you get many opportunities to see how they function like this one. It also shows how important Bill Giles is to the game we see on the field today. There are many of his ideas out there on the field that we never would have known were his creations.
For Phillies fans maybe they should read it and see once and for all what Bill Giles is really about. Perhaps we have been a little tough on Ol’ Bill for too many years. This book has made me thing we are actually probably better off for having him here.
You can get this book from the friendly folks at Temple University Press