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Archive for February, 2011

I had first heard of this book after commenting that Dave Rosenbaum’s book on the 1997 Marlins, If They Don’t Win It’s a Shame, was the only book that I knew of that explored Jim Leyland’s managerial career. As it turns out, I was quite wrong and I’m glad to have found out about this book.

Pascarelli followed Leyland during the 1992 season as he was managing the Pirates into what turned out to be their last NLCS appearance for now. He uses Leyland’s experience and anecdotes about a few other well-known managers of the time as a springboard to explain exactly what it is that managers do all day. It’s a valuable exploration of that for the time period in which it was written, but it’s also valuable as a record of why and how the Pirates began to go horribly wrong. The team chairman at the time, Douglas Danforth, decided to make 1992 the year of the salary dump, ignoring Leyland’s wishes and the comfort of the players. Danforth’s successor wasn’t any better. (No wonder John Smiley hated Minnesota; he must have felt horribly betrayed.)

Pascarelli’s treatment of Leyland is a bit different than Rosenbaum’s. The management style is the same but Leyland comes off as more of an ornery cuss in ’97. Perhaps the makeup of the teams as well as the different writers may explain that. Leyland’s Pirates were a family, which is not the vibe one gets off the rent-a-team Marlins for the most part.

Interesting bits to read for:

  • Patrick Leyland’s 1st birthday, during the 1992 NLCS. (He was born during the 1991 NLCS.) This is the same kid who’s now a catcher in the Tigers’ minor league system. How time flies.
  • Bob Walk’s nickname: Walky.
  • Barry Bonds was a pain off the field before coming to the Giants. His performance and behavior on the field made up for it.
  • Nobody went to Pirates games when they were winning, either.
  • Apparently one couldn’t use the 4-letter curse beginning with F in a general-interest sports book in 1993. (All the other words were spelled out.) I don’t use it here due to workplace nanny filters, not my own reticence, btw.
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That 2010 MLB season was great, wasn’t it? Unfortunately due to my non-baseball life going completely bonkers, I missed a lot of it. 2011’s going to be great! I’ll have content! (Mostly because I have unwanted time on my hands for a while…I hope to get that issue resolved soon.)

One of the things I’ll definitely be starting here is a series of baseball book reviews. Look for a review of Peter Pascarelli’s The Toughest Job in Baseball over the next few days, followed by reviews of J.C. Bradbury’s The Baseball Economist and Hot Stove Economics. I’ll also be reviewing baseball fiction and baseball manga here too (I’ve got both translated volumes of Cross Game looking lonely and unwanted in my bedside bookrack.)

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