Archive for Received

The U.S. Congressional Baseball Game: A Review

On Thursday night, July 14, America’s elected officials took a much deserved break from trying to figure out what to do with all that debt, and took part in the most American of activities: baseball.

The 50th annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game was played at Nationals Stadium last week, and, thanks to a pair of well-educated NotGraphs readers, what you’ll find below is a brilliant review of the Democrats’ 8-2 victory, their third in a row since 2009, after they, the rest of the country, and, well, the world, took it on the chin from the Republicans for eight straight — and long — years.

Huge political props go out to Dara and Noah for their review. Thank you kindly, and long live the American spirit.

Even the participants in the annual Congressional Baseball Game are aware that it’s a slightly pathetic event. The only Baseball Hall of Famer who’s ever appeared in the game, former senator Jim Bunning, is not a member of the Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame, and the game program prominently features a quote from former Congressman Marty Russo calling it “the one thing that’s left where members (of Congress) get to have fun together.” Nonetheless, the 2011 game, played last Thursday at Nationals Park, managed a crowd of a few thousand Congressional staffers, interns, and hometown fans nostalgic for the lovable bumbling of the past few Nationals seasons. But fans on the left-field (aisle?) side were in for a pleasant surprise. The Democrats turned in an impressingly not-incompetent performance, winning 8-2 on the strength of a legitimate gem from pitcher Cedric Richmond.

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Received: Stan Musial Bio

Via Pony Express comes to me George Vecsey’s Stan Musial: An American Life. As a Cardinals fan, I am, of course, in a perpetual state of adoration of all things Stan. After all, he was one of the greatest players in the history of ever, and, according to everyone in the world not named Murray Chass, he’s also a gem of a human being.

At present, I’m shin deep in Nixonland, which is quite good but decidedly tome-ish. So it’ll be a while before I get around to Stan. When I do, though, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts, which are as muscle-bound as they are lucid and handsome.

Received: Every Maple Street Press Annual

If the above image is slightly blurry, it’s because light is at a premium in my Upper Midwestern home at the moment: what my weatherman is calling “freezing rain” but what I’d describe more accurately as “liquid sadness” is falling all over the place as as I type these electronic words.

The good news is, thanks to the misguided kindness of Maple Street Press owner James Walsh, I now own all these frigging book things. In somewhat related news, it appears as though Walsh will appear next week on FanGraphs Audio. Join us for this landmark event.

One early and superficial observation about these assorted annuals: there’s a chance the Cardinal one will make people cry.


Received!: Diamond Dishes

Actually, I did not receive a tome called Diamond Dishes, but since this is The Day of the Ridiculous Person of April, I feel sanctioned in telling a humorous fib. Here’s the book:

So, “author” Julie Loria,” send me one of these, and I’ll stop talking (temporarily) about how your husband murdered Les Expos, about how his lust for the public teat knows no bounds, and about how he looks like a tanned and rested Uncle Fester. Fail to send me a copy of this cookbook, and I will continue doing these things without ceasing.

Also: Look at Joe Mauer baking and stuff!

I look forward to trying Prince Fielder’s lard wraps and Matt Stairs’s recipe for gorilla-meat tartare.

(Subtle head nod: With Leather)

Received: 2011 Amazin’ Avenue Annual

Allow this post to remind all manner of book-writers: NotGraphs is in the business of receiving your books for free, reading them, and then writing thinly veiled advertisements on their behelf.

Courtesy of Amazin’ Avenue‘s Eric Simon, the NotGraphs Literary Bureau has recently come into possession of the forthcoming 2011 Amazin’ Avenue Annual.

A review will almost certainly follow next week. In the meantime, here’s a the table of contents:

by Ken Davidoff

by Eric Simon

Part 1: Looking Back On 2010
Chapter One: Ten For ’10
by Eric Simon

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Journey to The Show

Ryan Shopshire was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. Six feet five inches tall, and weighing 200 pounds, it’s Shopshire’s dream to one day pitch in the big leagues. For the coming season, Shopshire’s teamed up exclusively with brand-spanking new baseball blog Through The Fence Baseball, and will be blogging about his experiences in the minor leagues in a series entitled Talking Shop.


First I want to tell everybody a little about my baseball background. I am a so-cal boy born and raised in the most beautiful place in the states, Orange County California. I played my high school years at Orange Lutheran High School, a premier power house. After high school I accepted a scholarship at Long Beach State to play for the Dirtbags. My freshmen year there I experienced my first injury playing baseball (a stress fracture in my throwing elbow) and made me miss my entire season. At the end of the season exit meetings the coaches decided that Long Beach would not be my home the following season. This was a big blow to me because this was my first choice school out of high school.

My path was altered but I believe it made me stronger and more knowledgeable. My next two years I played at Orange Coast Community College in beautiful Newport Beach, California. At Coast I played at one of the most prestige community college baseball leagues in California and the nation. We made the playoffs both years there and it is always fun playing for a winning program. After my time at Coast I accepted a scholarship to play at San Jose State University. I did not know much about the program before I was contacted by the University but, I was informed that it was a winning program. I played there for two years and my team had a combined record of 72-45.

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Received: Baseball in the Garden of Eden

As part of NotGraphs’ initiative to become the industry leader in forthcoming-book announcements, we are pleased to announce a forthcoming book and the receipt of advance proof for same.

The book in question is Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game, and it has been authored by John Thorn. Thorn’s name you will definitely recognize if you’re the sort of person who cared for sabermetrics before, say, the year 2000, for he authored, alongside Pete Palmer, The Hidden Game of Baseball, in which book the pair introduces linear weights (among other concepts integral to the field).

Thorn has apparently done some other things in the meantime — like, for example, consult Ken Burns on his very famous documentary about the game and also edit Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game.

As for the present text, it appears to be a revision of baseball’s creation narrative, going beyond not only Abner Doubleday but also beyond Alexander Cartwright, too — all the way (or so this publicity material suggests) to “Daniel Lucius Adams, William Rufus Wheaton, and other fascinating figures that have accrued around baseball’s origins.”

The book goes on sale March 15th.

Received: Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella

You, reader, are probably already aware that NotGraphs has entered what is often colloquially referred to as “the big time.”

As if we had to prove it any further, witness this: our very first advance proof, Neil Lanctot’s forthcoming Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella.

The book goes on sale March 8th, and we’ll provide a review of some sort before that date.

In the meantime, some notes and first impressions:

• So long as the back of this book isn’t lying, Roy Campanella, who joined the Dodgers a year after Jackie Robinson, didn’t particularly get along with him (i.e. Robinson).

• Campenella’s playing career was cut short by an automobile accident, in early 1958, that left him a quadriplegic.

• There’s a chance — a chance — that this book willn’t be “full of jokes.”

• Campanella was MVP three times — 1951, 1953, and 1955 — tying him with Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt for second on the all-time list.

• Embiggen this image (all players, 1948-1957):