The Screwball: Book It! The Next Big Things in Baseball Page-Turners

Manny Ramirez is a man of many voices (via Andrew Malone).

Manny Ramirez is a man of many voices (via Andrew Malone).

Baseball books are great. First of all, they’re books, and books keep our minds off TV.

Second, they’re about baseball, and baseball isn’t bowling.

What follows, one imagines, is a look at the bestsellers to come.


Title: Baseball Made Easy … The Mike Trout Way!
Author: Mike Trout
Synopsis: Mike Trout makes baseball easy.
Excerpt: “First, it’s important that you are born Mike Trout.”

Title: Baseball Made Awkward … The Hunter Pence Way!
Author: Hunter Pence
Synopsis: Hunter Pence makes baseball awkward – way, way awkward.
Excerpt: “First, you want to swing as if you are an arthritic lumberjack bashing the bejeebers out of the baseball-shaped piñata at his son’s sixth birthday party. Next, you want to run as if auditioning for the eponymous role in Creature from the Black Lagoon II: Lumbago and Shin Splints Can’t Stop the Gill-Man, They Can Only Hope To Contain Him! And when playing the outfield, be sure to throw as if a diabolical surgeon has replaced your elbow joint with a 2×4 length of wolmanized lumber.”

Title: How to Call Off Outfielders When You Sound Like Tiny Tim
Author: Leonys Martin
Synopsis: The Rangers outfielder educates readers on how to call for a fly ball with a voice to which dogs – and only dogs — will favorably respond.
Excerpt: “Not only is my voice high, making me sound like a Byzantine castrato performing the role of Julia Child in a Food Channel production of The Vienna Boys Choir Eats The Darndest Things!, it is also soft, making me sound like timid Byzantine castrato performing the role of Julia Child, etc. As you can imagine, mine is not an ideal voice for making territorial claims in the outfield. To compensate, I use a telegraphy system that combines the visual stimulus of impromptu semaphore with the tactile stimulus of a sudden punch to the gut. Once the other outfielder is doubled over in pain, and in efforts to ease diplomatic relations, I sing Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”

Title: How To Be Derek Jeter, By Derek Jeter
Author: Derek Jeter
Synopsis: Derek Jeter
Excerpt: “When dating, or, let’s be honest, {redacting} women such as {redacted}, {redacted}, {redacted}, {redacted}, {redacted}, Minka Kelly, and/or {redacted}, be sure to {redact} your {redact} – not to mention your {redact} – so as not to {redact) the {redactiveness} of your {redactions.}”

Title: Renaissance Man: Or, How To Be More Than Just a Dilettante
Author: C.J. Wilson
Synopsis: As C.J. Wilson will tell you, C.J. Wilson is more than just a pitcher. He is a New Age polymath, a man with his hands in many disciplines and his head in the actual clouds. (He wants to pilot the team plane!) In this handy how-to, the athlete/writer/race car driver/entrepreneur/anti-dandruff model takes time between Mandarin lessons and Krav Maga instruction to tell you just how he does it.
Excerpt: “I wake up really early, and go to bed really late.”


Title: One Altuve Tall
Author: Jose Altuve
Synopsis: Jose Altuve writes with Altuvian candor about being Jose Altuve. In so doing, he inspires each “Mini-Mini-Me” to reach “great heights,” or at least to be patient when waiting for friends to finish riding the roller coaster.
Excerpt: “Mean people on the Internet often write about so-and-so being ‘three Altuves tall,’ or, more often, ‘four Altuves tall,’ but I’m here (on this phone book) to tell you that I am proud to stand one Altuve tall! I am also here (on the aforementioned phone book) to give you some helpful pointers: 1) while your friends ride the roller coaster, enjoy a cold beverage; 2) when you are finished, ask a stranger to hoist you up so you can throw the cup into a regulation trash can; 3) be mindful that a local youth group might try to shepherd you into the van.”

Title: Two Altuves Wide
Author: Bartolo Colon
Synopsis: In this surprising book, the Mets right-hander takes readers on a captivating and inspirational journey into the wonders of his home aquarium.
Excerpt: “It is just the right width. You should get one!”

Title: Comeback: The Grady Sizemore Story
Author: Grady Sizemore
Synopsis: The oft-injured outfielder opens up about his inspiring comeback.
Excerpt: “It was then that I owwwwwwwwwwwww.”

Title: He Hate Me: Finding Love as the Most Hated Man in the Game
Author: A.J. Pierzynski
Synopsis: By overwhelming consensus, A.J. Pierzynski is baseball’s most detested figure. By his own admission – and again, by overwhelming consensus – he is cocky, conniving, demonstrative and obnoxious in ways that make opponents want to pull out their hair, but only after pulling out his. Here, the veteran catcher writes openly about his “famous infamy,” and gives advice to “equally loathed players of beer-league softball” on how they, too, can find love for opponents – “and, more importantly, for themselves.”
Excerpt: “The Buddha instructs that we can arouse feelings of loving kindness through the timeless discipline of meditation. First, bring up a mental picture. See your opponent, even if he is Yunel Escobar or that weird dude from Crazy Hank’s Used Car Heaven, smiling back at you. And see yourself being joyous. Next, reflect on the positive qualities of that person and the acts of kindness that he has performed, acts such as walking off the field without punching you right in the mouth. Finally, repeat a mantra such as ‘Om mani padme hum‘ or ‘It doesn’t freakin’ matter as long as we win the damn game.’”

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

Title: He Love Me: Finding Aggression as the Nicest Guy in the Game
Author: Jim Thome
Synopsis: Jim Thome did more than hit 612 home runs in his 22-year career. He also delivered countless warm-and-fuzzies. But how did baseball’s nicest player discover the killer instinct required of a professional athlete? Here, with a tone that’s just so Thome, the big guy tells you how.
Excerpt: “Money!”

Historical Fiction

Title: A Puig of Their Own
Author: I.D. Scribe
Synopsis: With America embroiled in World War II, and many of its soldiers drawn from big league baseball, candy magnate Pepper Mintz creates a professional women’s league in efforts to fill the Pastime void. Enter the mysterious Y. Puig, a muscular émigré who, unbeknownst to teammates, is a controversial figure … from the future! And speaking of potential controversy, that figure just happens to be dressed … in drag!
Excerpt: “Puig rounded the bases. It was her eighth home run of the day.”

Title: A Jeets of Their Own
Author: I.D. Scribe
Synopsis: Fresh on the heels of A Puig of Their Own, author Scribe imagines a fantastical place where Derek Jeter is surrounded by women.
Excerpt: “Jeter rounded the bases. It was his eighth home run of the day.”

Title: The Confederate Baseball Iowa
Author: W.P. Fugazi
Synopsis: Inspired by the W.P. Kinsella novel The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, Fugazi creates a magical land where Confederate soldiers harvest corn and play baseball until realizing that Iowa actually sides with the Union, at which point they build a casino in the cornfields and call it Monte Carlo. Given what usually happens when people build something, they are surprised when nobody comes. Perhaps it’s because of a dubious no-smoking policy that runs dramatically counter to the three-laudanum minimum, or the chronic absence of fresh lobster at the afternoon buffet. Whatever the case, the soldiers must decide what to do next, lest they be cast back to internecine bloodshed and supper meals of hardtack and coffee.
Excerpt: “Moonshine Graham stepped from the fields, as if from another dimension, and brought with him the recipe for deliverance: corn mash.”

Title: Buckner Saves The Day! And Also the City! All Hail Buckner!
Author: Buck Billner
Synopsis: With the Red Sox just one out away from winning their first World Series since 1918, Boston first baseman Bill Buckner performs a grand jeté and then a rond de jambe en l’air to snag a scorching one-hopper off the bat of Mookie Wilson. Scrambling to his feet, he eludes Nazi sniper fire to nip the runner at the bag, securing the title while foiling a plot to poison the Charles River with water from the New York municipal supply.
Excerpt: “I – I mean Buckner – had to move quickly, from the demi position to the sprint position, whereupon he maneuvered through a relentless hail of bullets to secure the title, and a brighter tomorrow, for his beloved Boston. As teammates hoisted him to their shoulders and carried him ’round the field, Buckner blew kisses at his adoring fans, many of whom wept openly while vowing to name their first-born children – and even their second- and third-born children – William Joseph ‘Bill’ Buckner Davidson, or Braunstein, or Davidson-Braunstein, or whatever. With tears of joy streaming down his cheeks, Buckner thought, ‘I will never move away from Boston, or even Massachusetts, and relocate somewhere in Idaho.’”

Title: The Mendoza Line in the Sand
Author: Mendio Maroza
Synopsis: In a world where carnivorous desert creatures stalk gorgeous archaeologists who brush sand from valuable artifacts while wearing tight-fitting halter-tops, one courageous shortstop dares to draw a line in the sand.
Excerpt: “Mendoza had heard the whispers – that he provided ‘good defense,’ mostly with a Brinks Tent Security System and a network of powerful tiki torches, but that he couldn’t go on the offensive to save his life … or the lives of gorgeous archaeologists who brush sand from valuable artifacts while speaking openly about their yearning for romantic passion. In efforts to set the record straight, Mendoza pulled out a Louisville Slugger, 34 inches long, 31 ounces in weight, with a barrel just big enough to knock the snot out of carnivorous desert creatures that stalk sexy scientists. With it he drew a line the desert sand, telling the women, ‘Stand thee behind it!’ before stepping back across the line, toward the hungry beasts, and waggling the business end of the weapon. He had never considered the bat a proxy for manhood, a symbol so brazenly phallic, but, oh, how the sexy scientists saw it that way! They bit their lips and watched as Mendoza stepped toward the salivating creatures.

“‘Oh, there’s gonna be a sacrifice,’ he said to the hideous monsters, bringing the bat into the hitting position, ‘but it sure won’t be a bunt.’”


Title: Joshua Judges Ruth, Judge Nails Dude, Dude Nails (Book) Pitch
Author: Lenny Dykstra (with Denny McLain)
Synopsis: After his baseball career ended, the man known as “Nails” and “Dude” famously ran afoul of the so-called “law,” or the so-called “laws.” Now he’s paying for it, serving a three-year sentence imposed by a judge who, by every indication, is not a fan of 13th-round draft picks who volunteer to remodel Wayne Gretzky’s mansion, try to help the LAPD break up a stolen-car ring and give a passerby a free anatomy lesson, later described in court filings as “indecent exposure.” In this revealing tell-all, Dykstra describes in vivid detail the two home runs he hit in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
Excerpt: “I hit that first one really hard. Second one, too.”

Title: Ball Sixteen
Author: Miguel Asencio
Synopsis: In this “four-squared homage” to Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, Miguel Asencio reveals exactly what caused him to throw 16 consecutive balls, walking four consecutive batters, in his big league debut on April 6, 2002.
Excerpt: “To be honest, I was thinking about beaver shooting.”

Title: The REAL Story of the Worst Baserunning in the History of the Game
Author: Ruben Rivera
Synopsis: A decade after making the gaffe heard ’round the world, Ruben Rivera sets the record straight on what really happened that day … and why.
Excerpt: “I had been having headaches. Blurred vision. Difficulty with balance and coordination. But little did I know then what I know now – that the aliens had implanted the microchip and were now in the mother ship, having fun with the aptly named joysticks.”

Title: Staredown: The Story of Two Men and Twelve Minutes
Co-authors: Joe Kelly and Scott Van Slyke
Synopsis: Just prior to Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly and Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke engaged in an “epic optical showdown,” as the two men now phrase it. Laughter took hold of players and fans alike, but the actual cause of the staredown has never been revealed … until now. The story, like the staredown, will amaze you.
Excerpt: “We had always heard that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Each of us – both of us – had dismissed it as an old wives’ tale. Which is why we were so surprised, and pleasantly, to stare through each other’s ‘windows’ to see Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and the Godfather himself. The concert was relatively short by industry standards, but, man, was it good, especially the part where James Brown shook off the cape and returned to the stage, where he sang at length about the nuances of the infield fly rule.”

Title: So Many Mannys: Manny on Manny Being Manny, and So On
Author: Manny Ramirez (with Manny Ramirez)
Synopsis: Manny Ramirez remains one of baseball’s most beloved and controversial figures. Here, with remarkable honesty, Manny writes in the first-person, and also the third-person, and sometimes the second-person, and even the fourth- and ninth-persons, about the being that is Manny.
Excerpt: “Some philosophers suggest that the concept of ‘being’ has no meaning, because we can define a person’s existence only by its relation to objects (such as baseballs), actions (such as hitting baseballs) and Mannys (such as me, and also Manny as an image of me). Now, if you ask Manny to take a good look at himself, he will take a good look at myself. And he and I will reflect on the very being of Manny, and the very idea of Manny being Manny, and the very idea of Manny analyzing Manny being Manny. And at the risk of creating an infinite Manny regress, we will ask ourselves: Can Manny exist – or be – in isolation? Or must Manny exist in relation to human chorionic gonadatropin, and urinating behind the Green Monster, and, later, looking at a picture of himself with a sign that reads Manny Being Manny? And we will conclude, he and I, that you must buy the book to find out – assuming, of course, that you are reading this excerpt on a Web site on which a very serious author takes a very serious look at baseball books such as the one from which this excerpt is taken.”

Print This Post
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson

I am looking forward to the movie versions of these books!

John Paschal
John Paschal

Starring Paco Rodriguez (the kid from “Modern Family”) as Jose Altuve; C.J. Wilson as C.J. Wilson (he’s a thespian, after all); and finally, C.J. Wilson as each of the many Mannys (again … thespian.)

Paul G.
Paul G.