Archive for Readings

Boughten: “A Baseball Winter” (Book)

Most of the things I did today are shameful, and concern for the reader’s modesty forbids me from recounting them (i.e. those things I did) in these pages. Among the less shameful activities in which I engaged, however, was to visit the very excellent Grey Matter Books in Hadley, MA, and buy the book you see pictured here, lying on a friend’s rug.

A Baseball Winter: The Off-Season Life of the Summer Game is an account of the 1984-85 offseason of five clubs: the New York Mets, the California Angels, the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Cleveland Indians. As editor-authors Terry Pluto and Jeffrey Neuman note in the Acknowledgments, “its focus [is] on the backstage aspects of the game: contract negotiations, trade talks, in short, the games as it is played off the field.”

Having read the first 10 or so pages, I can speak to one of the book’s virtues — namely, that it’s written in diary form, with three- or four-page entries for each (or most) of the days of the offseason. The style lends itself to a sort of urgency, a sense of witnessing the events as they unfold, that’s very pleasant.


Fallacies of Which Dan Shaughnessy Is Guilty

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the rhetorical fallacies committed by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy in his most recent piece, in which he argues that the Red Sox are a “doofus organization” — which list is accompanied by a photo of an almost amused E.B. White. [Reference: Aaron, LB Brief (4th ed).]

• Begging the question
• Non sequitur
• Red herring
• Appeal to emotion
• Bandwagon
• Ad populum
• Hasty generalizations
• Sweeping generalizations
• Reductive fallacy
• Post hoc fallacy
• Either/or fallacy


Ways to Describe the Vet

Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium was, provably and undeniably, the place where YouTube commenters gathered before there was such a thing as YouTube. As such, there are any number of ways to describe the angsty tincture of assholes and disimprisoned maniacs that prowled within its walls. And thanks to SI’s excellent and mustachioed Gary Smith, we have some championship examples of doing so.

First, a couple of warm-ups:

“It was San Quentin,” says Head.

“It was a circular concrete slab of crap,” says Boo.

Not half bad. But would anyone care to trump?

“It was a green dying turd,” says Dan Tarng, a first-generation Taiwanese-American fan who needs to meet Head and Boo.

In the course of stinking, meaningless human events, you might be tempted to describe Veterans Stadium in your own words. Do not. Instead, pay obeisance to Mr. Dan Tarng, who was through with it before you knew what to do with it.


Shorter Baseball Columnists!

It’s time for another installment of “Shorter Baseball Columnists,” in which we read mainstream baseball columnists and marginalized bloggers like Murray Chass so you don’t have to! Let us begin!

Shorter Murray Chass: Let me tell you about the time that Tony La Russa had to go potty.

Shorter Dan Shaughnessy: OH HAI LARRY LUCCHINO!!11!ONE!!!

Shorter T.J. Simers: Don Rickles likes the Dodgers.

Shorter Frank Isola: Here’s the latest on Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit.

Shorter Chris DeLuca: Theo Epstein still hasn’t won a World Series for the Cubs.


Yogi Berra Will Have a Vodka with Ice, Thanks

Noted Italian-American gridiron football coach Vince Lombardi once famously announced “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Less noted — and, it turns out, less Italian-American — baseball writer Carson Cistulli once (less famously) said, “Scotch isn’t the only thing I drink; it’s the only thing I drink after noon.”

To this important conversation, third Italian-American Lawrence “Yogi” Berra has recently added a rich and compelling dimension, stating (according to Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal) “I’ll have a vodka with extra ice, and the scallops.”

Among the other scraps of wisdom extracted by Gay during his recent trip to Moneyball and dinner with the Yankee legend and his wife Carmen, we learn that:

• Berra’s greatest criticism of the film concerns actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Art Howe — and, in particular, Hoffman’s girth. “Art’s a good guy,” says Berra. “And I never saw him that fat. He’s thin.”

• Father of Sabermetrics Bill James has “no doubt” that Berra is the greatest catcher who ever lived — even if the career WAR leaderboard suggests differently.

• Yogi Berra is still alive.


NotGraphs Bookclub

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide three weeks after the 2005 Super Bowl, titling his note “Football Season is Over.” Not to get too dramatic, but I get that feeling of general malaise that creeps in after the end of a sports season. It’s been a little over one week since St. Louie won the World Series, and I must admit I’m already growing restless. No NBA isn’t helping, and surprisingly neither is the start of the Australian Baseball League. That leaves one place to find immediate salvation – To the library!


“Honestly, the plot’s a little slow for me.”

What I’m proposing is a NotGraphs bookclub, but not really, because that would be too much work.  So what I’m really proposing are a few books that I would recommend to this fake bookclub if it actually did ever exist.

The now famous Jonah Keri posted a list of great baseball books many moons ago on NotGraphs, and it is pretty great and a good a place as any to start building your personal baseball library.  My only problem with it, however, is its lack of good fiction books (he includes just one, the albeit fantastic The Iowa Baseball Confederacy) – this list, while not as long, thorough, or as well hyper-linked, is an attempt to rectify this very, very minor literary injustice.  And that’s my preamble.

Book #1 – The Great American Novel, Philip Roth.  A long, well-written joke about our national pastime.  Read this in spurts, or just re-read his best book, the novella Goodbye, Columbus, and call it a day.

Book #2 –   The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., Robert Coover.  A weird book by a weird writer, the plot follows the titular Henry Waugh and his devotion to a fictional baseball league he creates and plays by himself.

Book #3 – The Natural, Bernard Malamud.  The best ever.  Better than the movie.  If you haven’t read it, do it today. 

 More to come at some point, probably.


Expression and Emotion, World Series Edition


What emotion is the Cards’ skipper feeling right now?

During the first game of the world series, the booth had a chance to talk to Tony La Russa about emoting in the dugout. They pointed out that Ron Washington had a much more expressive style and asked the Cardinals manager about his emotional state.

To paraphrase the stoic response (delivered with a smirk), La Russa said that he was broiling on the inside. And that Washington’s style (“when you do something good, show your emotions“) was fine as long as it came from a genuine place.

Popular psychology has a preference for emoting. The American Pyschological Association states that anger “turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.” Recent medical research even suggests that a single tear can help reduce allergies and reduce pain from arthritis — and maybe even help regulate the immune system.

What do our psychological cornerstones have to say on the subject? Would they want La Russa to emote more?

Read the rest of this entry »


Shorter Baseball Columnists!

It’s time for another installment of “Shorter Baseball Columnists,” in which we read mainstream baseball columnists and marginalized bloggers like Murray Chass so you don’t have to! Let us begin!

Shorter Mike Lupica: Hot Sports Opinion: Yankees-Red Sox games sometimes last too long.

Shorter Bill Plaschke: How much do I love Peter Bourjos? Enough to refer to his “dazzling dignity.”

Shorter Lake Cruise: The Cardinals’ ongoing embrace of Mark McGwire might kill your children.

Shorter T.J. Simers: Report immediately to your comfiest reading chair, because this is going to be about moi.

Shorter Murray Chass: New York Times, if I can’t have you, no one will.

Shorter Jerry Green: Stop giving me the high-hat: Justin Verlander is the MVP. And that’s my lawn you’re standing on, you whippersnappers and jackanapes. Ah, the dickens …

The “Shorter” approach to Internetty commentary traces back, as best as one can tell, to Daniel Davies.


Shorter Baseball Columnists!

It’s time for another installment of “Shorter Baseball Columnists,” in which we read mainstream baseball columnists and marginalized bloggers like Murray Chass so you don’t have to! Let us begin!

Shorter Mike Lupica: The Yankees won’t win the World Series unless they do.

Shorter Kevin Kernan: Derek Jeter has confirmed that the Yankees would like to win the division.

Shorter Bill Plaschke: Televising the Little League World Series is bad for children. With that said, it would be fine if they televised it on the hit program, “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”

Shorter Gregg Doyel: The MLBPA should defend only players I like.

Shorter Jim Souhan: Not many have the guts to say this, but the Tigers are better than the Twins.

Shorter Joe Cowley: I have decided to accept Starlin Castro’s apology.

The “Shorter” approach to Internetty commentary traces back, as best as one can tell, to Daniel Davies.


Shorter Baseball Columnists!

It’s time for another installment of “Shorter Baseball Columnists,” in which we read mainstream baseball columnists and marginalized bloggers like Murray Chass so you don’t have to! Let us begin!

Shorter Fay Vincent: I noticed an awkwardly worded sentence in the Times. Sportswriting is dead.

Shorter Dan Shaughnessy: A very wealthy guy showed up at a Sox game.

Shorter T.J. Simers: Don Mattingly and James Loney have a positive outlook on things. I don’t like that at all.

Shorter Kevin Kernan: Regarding the Yankees, it’s quite possibly time to start panicking.

Shorter Jim Souhan: It’s too bad the Twins have money.

Shorter Murray Chass: I like bunts.

The “Shorter” approach to Internetty commentary traces back, as best as one can tell, to Daniel Davies.