If you are looking for a book review tonight unfortunately you have come to the wrong place. Being the name sake of this blog provides me the opportunity to have a public venting session when needed. So please if you all will, amuse me tonight and let me complain so that by tomorrow I will be in a better frame of mind and will return to what I normally do around here…….baseball books and all that go with it.
For those of you who haven’t heard, my wife and I are expecting our first child in August. To celebrate the event we were going to take an epic trip in May and visit six MLB stadiums in eight days along with one Minor League stop in there as well. Here is the link to the original story if you missed it. We had some good responses and ideas from a few of my readers to some things we should not miss at the places we were going. We also had some preliminary contact with a couple of the teams we were going to visit so it was looking like it was all going to come together nicely and be a fun trip. Until today, when my little black cloud, that seems to follow me almost everywhere, showed its ugly face once again and rained all over our trip. You may ask, what has happened that would be so crappy to ruin our epic trip……..here let me show you…………….
That is a wonderful x-ray of my spine. The same spine that now requires surgery and some sort of implant to fix and has essentially screwed us out of our trip. I will be out of commission for at least a month and that falls right during the month of May. So instead of following the Phillies from city to city, and eating an Egg Mcmuffin in Toledo at a baseball game, I will be sitting at home on the couch with my head buried in another baseball book.
My wife has brought up the proposition of doing this trip next summer with our new little bundle of joy in tow, but I haven’t 100% signed off that idea yet. I do think having the new addition along would be a great bonus to the trip, I am just not sure how easy that much travel would be with someone that little.
I would like to think there is some sort of reason this has happened now and that we are better off staying home. But more than likely, it is just my black cloud following me again. So all the above being said if anyone has some ideas for books I should check out during my several week recuperation let me know. I have a few weeks until my surgery date, but will still have several weeks at home to read.
So that’s the plan, we will make that my silver lining in all of this and hopefully get some new recommendations from my readers. I have lots of faith in the folks I talk to in baseball book land and have already read a few of your ideas. So I look forward to and also appreciate any ideas you all have.
Thanks for reading my rant, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to listen to me whine and complain……………now back to your regular scheduled book reviews.
Its that time of year where baseball’s winter meetings are upon us. The one week a year where the business side of baseball comes to the forefront. Players are traded, free agents get signed and the Rule 5 draft occurs. For some fans it is an early Christmas present when your team signs that key free agent, while for others it might be the time you say goodbye to one of your favorite players. For the people that work these meetings it is just another day of business as usual. Fans sometimes get so engrossed in their team they may forget at the end of the day that baseball is still a business. For the people who are involved it is their job. A job many of us envy, but still a job nonetheless. Now there is a book that walks us through the business side of baseball and shows how the more things change, they somehow stay the same.
In Pursuit of Pennants takes an in depth look at the business of baseball, almost a history of the business side of you will. It looks at franchises over the last 100 years, showing the reader the dealings and hard business decisions that had to be made to produce winners. The book looks at how the teams were assembled and what worked and did not work. What key moves were made to help teams lay the groundwork for success, what moves should have been made to sustain the success or which moves proved to be just plain foolish.
The book also shows how teams heavily rely on their off-field personnel to help them build winners. The chain of command goes well beyond just the General Managers. All aspects of the front office play a part in the success of the team. It shows how everyone must believe in the team philosophy to be able to have it work at any level. It also shows that the same principles employed in the Moneyball theory have always been around. It may not have been the same ways to measure productivity or forecast any outcomes, but there were still theories that they adhered to that evolved as the game changed. The bottom line for all teams is to produce a winner.
Like other Armour and Levitt books, this book may not be for everyone. It is part history book, part reference book and part narrative. If you are looking for a nice easy flowing story that rolls through the book, this is not it. If you are looking for detailed information on the business side of baseball and a very thorough history lesson then this is your book. The authors have done a great job of explaining a not so glorious subject to the readers. The topic to some may be the equivalent of watching paint dry, but for those who stick with the book, you will be greatly rewarded in the end. You will walk away with a better understanding of how teams function off the field and understand the mindset needed to build a winner.
Baseball fans across the board that dedicate the time to reading this book will enjoy it. It honestly does start of a little slow but does pick up the pace enough to keep your interest through the rest of the book, so overall you wont be disappointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
There are so many available mediums available for the average baseball fan that it is almost mind-blowing at times. Television, Radio, Internet, Cable TV, Social Media, Fantasy Leagues and even Blogs have all taken their place in our society to bring the fan every facet of the game we love. It is hard to believe how these things have impacted the way we look at the game, and amazingly all this has evolved over the last century. It is also hard to comprehend that at one point baseballs only consistent outlet was through radio, and it was a hard sell at that. Today’s book takes a look at the evolution of baseball first medium, Radio.
James R. Walker has written a book that takes the reader through the birth of radio in baseball. It chronicles the struggles that baseball had to overcome to become part of the American fabric. From scheduling conflicts to sponsorship rights and legalities between both the government and the teams, it is all covered in here so you get the full picture of the birth of baseball on the airwaves.
The author walks you through baseball selling the rights to World Series games and how it eventually evolved into regular season games becoming the norm on the radio. This book also gives some very interesting facts about how the radio business operated at the time and how it effected the growth of baseball on the radio. It really was a convoluted system that impeded progress, but in the end the strength of baseball won out.
Finally the book takes you through the unprecedented growth of the game and its parallel growth on the radio. It also shows how radio lent itself to countless generations becoming familiar with the game. I found interesting that it shows the decline of radio once it was challenged by other mediums such as television and how it changed radio broadcasts. Some people feel that radio is the truest medium in which to follow a game, which I think to some degree is true. It forces you to imagine from the announcers story as to what is going on out on the diamond.
This book takes the reader back to a simpler time in society and shows the reader that even though baseball may not have realized it at the time, they were big business. There were some serious arguments over the baseball rights and substantial money was being paid to own those rights. Baseball fans will enjoy this book and the progression baseball follows in getting into american homes.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Nebraska Press
In my last post we talked about how a stadium becomes like part of the family. These stadiums, that we talk about, are usually gone. But today, we are going to look at how progress and moving on, is not always a bad thing when it comes to a ball park.
Jacobs Field – History & Tradition at the Jake
Vince McKee – 2014 The History Press
Moving to the other end of Ohio, we take a look at Jacobs Field. Replacing Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, the Indians ushered in a new era of baseball in 1994 with the opening of the Jake. A new state of the art facility that fans and players could now call home and put to rest the bleak memories of Municipal Stadium. It brought about new hope and promises for the team and fans alike.
Vince McKee takes a very nice look at the events that have happened in the first 20 seasons at the new palace in Cleveland. It brought an era of post season baseball and superstars wanting to call Cleveland home. The author did not only make this a good times book. He also takes a look at what happens when after a sustained period of success how a team has to rebuild. The tear down and rebuilding process is never a pleasant one. It shows how through free agency and trades how one era ends and another one begins in the hopes of getting even better.
You see the sights, sounds and people who have made memories for the fans in the Jake’s first twenty seasons. You see why the fans who call it home love it. You see the civic pride that is derived from having a park this nice to call home. In the end this book really shows how a city desperate to have a respectable stadium of its own has embraced their new baseball palace. Change is not always good in terms of a baseball stadium. In the case of the Cleveland Indians change was needed and created a boost to both the team itself and the fan base, and both were long overdue. Indians fans will enjoy this and probably wonder where the first twenty seasons at the Jake really went.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The History Press
When I had the thought of doing a book review blog, I figured I would stick to just doing autobiographies. I knew there were tons of those types of books out there to pick from. What I didn’t realize was that there was books on so many different facets of the history of the game. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the books I have found, and it has allowed me to become a history student again. Todays book added some new information to my ever-growing knowledge base.
Baseball’s Peerless Semipros
Thomas Barthel-2009 St. Johann Press
I will admit before I got this book I had never heard of the Bushwicks. Happily though, through my learning process I found a very interesting story. A bunch of semi-pros, former major leaguers and negro-leaguers formed a high quality team that most competitors found, was hard to beat. Through the process of winning they also produced a form of civic pride that most residents of Brooklyn found more appealing than the professional teams of the day.
Max Rosner who was a Jewish immigrant was the owner of the Bushwicks. Through his hard work and promotion he built a local empire. He basically created one of, if not the biggest draw of the first half of the twentieth century participating in baseball. That is no small feat if you consider he was competing against the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants in the same city.
I always find it interesting that you can see where something considered an innovation back in the day was derived from. Rosner was the brainchild behind the idea of night baseball under the lights. His idea sprang forth a full five years before the Cincinnati Reds decided to give it a try. It is small innovations like that which are now part of the everyday norm in baseball.
Barthel gives you a year by year look at the Bushwicks and the triumphs and struggles they encountered along the way. One of the big things they had an issue with was finding qualified competition. The team existed in almost a no-mans land if you will. They were not major league quality but still too good to be considered amateurs. It almost looks as if they were a quality minor league team in an era before minor league baseball existed.
You really get a glimpse in to the inner workings of a baseball team before MLB ruled the world. They may not have been the big apples within the Big Apple but they were still a pretty impressive team. Books like this I always enjoy because they are definitely off of the mainstream that baseball fans normally read and talk about. History buffs will really enjoy this and each fan should take the time to read and learn something new.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Johann Press.