I realize as always that I am way behind on posting on this blog. That doesn’t mean the reading has stopped on my end, it just means my book reports are a little late. I get review books from publishers fairly regularly, sometimes requested and sometimes not. But my perspective is they are all worth taking a look at. Some publishers may be of the one and done variety with the publication of baseball books. While others keep the sport in their lie-up on a regular basis. Year after year McFarland Publishing falls into that later category and this past year is no exception. These pictures are just a sampling of what has made its way across my desk from them this year.
From team biographies, individual player biographies, the history of the game to the social impacts certain teams, events or people have had on the game, McFarland has you, the reader, covered. Some of the subjects are obscure, while others are mainstream, but they still take the road of getting books in print that other publishers turn their noses up at.
Another aspect I find important about McFarland’s catalog is that they bring player Biographies to market that would otherwise fall to the wayside and never be published. How many times have we as readers asked, I wonder if this player has a book and you come to realize that they don’t. McFarland seems to be willing to bring obscure players and authors for that matter, to the market. For baseball readers this should be an item of importance. I for one know that the eight bio’s I have on Reggie Jackson are more than enough.
I don’t know if they publish on a self publishing platform or operate on a more traditional scale, and frankly I don’t care. They allow me the opportunity as a reader to learn and enjoy books about people and subjects within the sport that have been overlooked or flat-out ignored. Some of these subjects may not excite everyone, and that is understandable, but honestly if you give their vast catalog a chance, there will be something that will peak your interest as a baseball fan.
You can check out their full catalog at McFarland Books and see if there is something that sparks your interest to dive further into this great game. It is massive and ever-changing and honestly introduced me to some great topics and great new authors as well.
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
I will be the first to admit, when I see a great player out on the field I don’t give much thought as to what it took to get him there. Obviously the player had to dedicate himself to the game, hone his skills and pay his dues in the minor leagues, but what about on the organization’s side of the ball. How much time was dedicated to looking at this player and assessing if he had the skills to be a major leaguer. How much time was dedicated to teaching this player the correct way to play the game and help him progress in his career. All these things we don’t think about, but then I have to ask the question, who are the people who help make these decisions and find the talent out in the world? Today’s book is one of those that showcases a man who has dedicated his life to finding these diamonds in the rough.
When I started this book I was not sure I was going to get anything of any substance. I was thinking what could a scout tell me that I would find interesting about Major League Baseball. I thought it was going to be tales about driving through cornfields and dust storms to find the next big prospect, for kids that usually didn’t pan out anyway. I am very happy to say, boy was I wrong!
Art Stewart has dedicated his life to finding the next great thing for the game of baseball. A career that included a stint for the New York Yankees, Art is best known for his great work helping build the Kansas City Royals basically from the ground up. The author tells us stories of efforts to build a farm system for the franchise that will reap benefits at the major league level for years to come. Stories of beating the bushes trying to find the next great one and tireless effort put in to each prospect to find the right fit for his team. Through hard work, a loving wife and a great owners in Kansas City it has allowed Art Stewart to excel in his field and have an illustrious career.
This book is very enjoyable because it allows you to see what really goes into scouting of players. The analysis and skill assessment that each player must be evaluated with and the pride that comes along with each players success is showcased for the reader. It really is more than just going to a game and waiting for the players to show something remarkable. There are always hidden talents out there waiting to be discovered. The Art of Scouting has really changed my perspective on how I view a scouts role within the game, and I now see what a vital part they are to any organization.
Any baseball fan should enjoy this book. It shows you what goes on behind the scenes of any organization and what a vital role they have within any team. The scouts are an under-appreciated group that should really get some more recognition for their contributions to the game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Ascend Books