June 20, 2005

Baseball Cards

I just finished Buzz Bissinger's "Three Nights in August", a book about a series between the Cubs and Cardinals in August of 2003. This is the same guy who wrote "Friday Night Lights" about Texas high school football. The Cards' manager, Tony LaRussa, read it and decided to do a book about managing with Bissinger.

The framework of the story is everything that happens during this three-game series, but that's just the hook for lots of stories about baseball in general, LaRussa's experience, how the game works, etc. I loved the stories about sign-stealing, beanball wars and manager vs manager, pitcher vs hitter strategy. I remember LaRussa back during his days coaching the hated Athletics, but for me, the biggest drawback of the book is that I really wasn't familiar with most of the characters.

I would pay very good money to see a similar story about the Rangers and Buck Showalter at any point during the past couple of seasons, but it's unlikely to happen. I just don't have enough time as it is to follow the Rangers very closely, let alone the other teams in the AL West, let alone the rest of the teams in the American League. And the National League? Forget it. I guess that's one good thing about the Wild Card. For a brief time during some seasons, I do have an excuse to follow the Red Sox or some other team we're close to in the Wild Card race.

Anyway, this is a great book about the game. More than any other baseball book I've read, with the exception of a book by Keith Hernandez about watching baseball on TV (which wasn't bad), this book focuses more on the game and less on the personal history of one or two people. There's some of that, sure, but most of it has to do with explaining some of the unwritten rules of baseball from a manager's standpoint. The most comparable book is probably Bouton's "Ball Four", but Bouton's is definitely better and ages well.

Posted by Observer at June 20, 2005 08:03 PM

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