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Book Review: 3 Nights In August

Posted by cuorange on May 8, 2009

Three Nights In August

Three Nights In August

Before I began this book I wondered how interesting a 270 page book on 3 baseball games could be.  I imagined a book with tedious, uninteresting details of baseball games or perhaps a soliloquy from LaRussa on the game.  “LaRussa opens his third stick of gum and it’s only the first inning.  It’s Juicy Fruit, LaRussa’s favorite”.
 
I found just the opposite.  It’s a very well written book that, while based on a three game series in August, 2003 between the Cardinals and Cubs with first place on the line, is as author Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) says, “A book about baseball” and the “pulleys and levers” that are always working in the game that most fans don’t see or understand.
 
It also touches on subjects far and wide related to the game:  the subtleties of the bean ball and the inevitable who, when where and how to retaliate, if at all; the death of Darryl Kile; the sudden inability of Rick Ankiel to throw strikes; steroids; the modern, rich baseball player; the manager’s struggle to get certain players to play hard every day and listen to instruction; the beauty of a player like Albert Pujols; the cat and mouse and cloak and dagger of managing in the big leagues; and sign stealing.
 
There is some tediousness in the book and certainly in LaRussa’s personality (his fixation on the note cards in his back pocket for example), but Bissinger manages to weave them in periodically throughout the book without overdoing it.
 
Years ago, I read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights and thought it was a decently written book.  In “Three Nights In August” you can see and feel Bissinger’s improvement as a writer and story teller.
 
I had pretty much given up on Major League Baseball.  Guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts, steroids and the constant movement of players from one team to another have sapped my love of the game over time.  I think I’ve watched less than 5 innings of major league games this year.  This book however, brought back some of my love of the game and reminded me why I enjoy the game so much.

Rating: 8 of 10

Should you read?: Yes, if you are a professional baseball fan and are interested in what goes through a managers head during a game, series and season.

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