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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Book Review: The Last Best League

Posted by cuorange on June 24, 2009

This well written book chronicles the Chatham A’s of the Cape Cod League during the 44 game 2002 season, focusing on a few of the team’s stars as they compete in the best college summer league with wooden bats and outstanding pitching.

The main players are Jamie D’Antona (Wake Forest), Tim Stauffer (Richmond), Chris Iannetta (North Carolina), Thomas Pauly (Princeton), Colt Morton (North Carolina State) and Chad Orvella (North Carolina State).

While the book had extra interest to me because of the ACC ties (and a Clemson signee in Trolia), it was the insight into the struggles and tumult of the season that held my interest throughout.

Most of the starters were superstars at their respective colleges and came in bursting with confidence and swagger. Some left humbled. Others left with buoyed spirits that they could compete and succeed at the highest level of amateur baseball.

There were several stories of small time college players from Princeton, Siena and Maine trying to catch the eye of the scouts for just a chance at pro ball.

Also included in the book is an account leading up to and including the 2003 draft in which incredibly 5 members of the 2002 Chatham A’s were drafted by the San Diego Padres.

The book also combines historical information of the Cape Cod League, how the teams obtain players, operate and market (or not) with the hard reality of big time baseball and the harsh judgment of major league scouts weaved in with the personal stories of the players.

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Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Book Reviews, Professional Baseball | Leave a Comment »