Thursday, March 12, 2009

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks...

...Hold on. Better skip the peanuts, given what's going on in peanut-land these days. But baseball days are definitely back! Spring training is in full swing (pun surely intended), and - best of all - Junior is back! (and if you don't know what I mean by that, you are truly not a Mariner's fan)

So it must be time for some baseball books, no? A couple of baseball books are getting heavy press these days, because controversy usually generates great press -- for better or worse. The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, tells about the most storied (and likely most hated) franchise in baseball -- maybe in all of sports! When Torre took over the team in 1996, not many considered his success likely. Twelve tumultuous and triumphant years later, Torre left having led the team to six American League pennants and four World Series titles. He doesn't mince words when it comes to spilling the beans on his big-name players (can you really mince words and spill beans in the same sentence? hmmmm. I'm no chef).

Matt McCarthy writes about the less heralded side of baseball: the minor leagues. In Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, McCarthy tells of his year as a left-handed pitcher for the Provo Angels, Anaheim's minor league affiliate in Utah, violating sport's most sacred rule: what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room -- and his former teammates are not happy. The book unquestionably opens the door wide to the not-always-commendable behavior behind the scenes. Some have accused him of embellishment or even fabrication. But it's yet to be seen whether he will be seen as the Jim Bouton (Ball Four) of his generation or as the James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) of baseball.

On a less controversial note, popular sportswriter and bestselling author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, Liar's Poker, The Blind Side) reveals the inside story of fatherhood in his new book Home Game (coming in May). When he became a father, Michael Lewis found himself expected to feel things that he didn’t feel, and to do things that he couldn’t see the point of doing. At first this made him feel guilty, until he realized that all around him fathers were pretending to do one thing, to feel one way, when in fact they felt and did all sorts of things, then engaged in what amounted to an extended cover-up. Lewis decided to keep a written record of what actually happened immediately after the birth of each of his three children. This book is that record. But it is also something else: maybe the funniest, most unsparing account of ordinary daily household life ever recorded from the point of view of the man inside. The remarkable thing about this story isn’t that Lewis is so unusual. It’s that he is so typical. The only wonder is that his wife has allowed him to publish it.

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