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Archive for May, 2014

This book is one of those massively recommended baseball novels. As a peek into 19th century baseball and the 1876 Red Stockings, it’s unparalleled in fiction. There’s definitely enough baseball in here. Unfortunately the entire kitchen sink went into the production of the rest of the novel.

1) It looks like a straightforward time-travel novel with lots of baseball.
2) Then our protagonist has to escape from gamblers. Not so unusual for the period, but…
3) He runs into Mark Twain (who he’s named for)
4) and there’s psychics
5) and the Fenian Brotherhood
6) and then it turns into a time-travel romance (with no HEA)
7) and a cross-country chase
and most of the baseball disappeared.

The end made it look like one of those “the old days were better” books when it’s clear from Sam’s actions in the past re racism and sexism that he didn’t agree…whatever, it didn’t fit the author’s plot template.

In conclusion, it’s crackfic. It hung together as well as can be expected–it takes a talented author to juggle this much and have the audience keep watching, and Brock is–but there’s a point where he starts dropping balls. Thankfully it’s late in the novel.

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Brewers at Marlins: Brewers #1 prospect Jimmy Nelson makes his 2014 debut.

A’s at Blue Jays: Drew Pomeranz is making his 4th start of the season. He’s given up 3 runs this year, 2 on solo home runs. I don’t think it’s sustainable but watch him now before the pixie dust runs out.

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What games should you watch today? I’m going to dispense with any fancy formulas or anything else exciting like that and just tell you the sorts of things I like to watch. I like pitchers and flashy defense and big showy offense and quirkiness, so anything I tell you to watch is based on that. All times are in Central, because I live there.

Today’s Good Pitching and Offense Excitement is probably the Rangers at Tigers at 3:08. You’ve got Rick Porcello who is having a season resembling decent, against the Rangers rookie Nick Martinez who is also having a stealthy decent small sample size of a season. Martinez wasn’t on any top prospect lists entering 2014 and he came up directly from AA Frisco this year after the Rangers ran into over 9000 injuries to starters. If I were actually home this afternoon, this would be the game I’d watch. Mostly because I have bad luck in seeing decent!Porcello, as I’ve seen him pitch in person a few times and…it was highly meh.

In the Hey, Interesting Dept., the Dodgers at Phillies at 2:05 features the major league debut of the Phillies’ David Buchanan. Buchanan is a more conventional callup from AAA Lehigh Valley here to replace Cliff Lee. I can’t tell if he’s a ground ball or a fly ball pitcher with his splits from the last two seasons. That in itself is interesting. Let’s see what he does with the Dodgers.

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The subtitle is refreshing to see as it refers to a sporting event that means something to my generation as an “all-time best”, especially something in baseball where the late 1980s and early 1990s have been ignored in historical baseball books until this one came out. I’m going to beg to differ on calling this the best World Series of all time–I preferred 2001, but that Series carries a cargo hold of other baggage and I’m actually not looking forward to the historical coverage of that one. This book is fine for what it is, which is a coverage of the World Series in particular and not an in-depth look at either team’s season or even of the league championship series. My problem with the book, and it’s not exactly a problem unless you’re me (or a few other people,) is that my friend is absolutely obsessed with this World Series and she has told me so much about it based on the contemporary journalism and the statistical record that the only thing Wendel could bring me to add to that was his current interviews with primary sources.

Wendel was covering this World Series for USA Today and its Baseball Weekly publication and he uses many of his interviews from 1991 as source material for this book. The drawback of the book, and its current sources, is how much time is spent with the victors. His only 2013 interviews with Braves were with Terry Pendleton and Mark Grant. Mark Grant is easy to find, because he is the analyst for Padres television broadcasts. Grant was on the disabled list for most of 1991 but at least he took that time on his hands to help develop (with Steve Avery) lots of rally cap variations. I like that Wendel used great, interesting sources like Dan Gladden and Brian Harper to shape his narrative but once again, they’re easy to find; they, like other heavily-used source Ron Gardenhire, still work in and around professional baseball.

Another thing noticed in the book and relevant to discourse of today was his mention of the American Indian Movement’s anti-mascot protests. It should prove to anyone reading that this issue with Native mascots didn’t magically appear in 2013, but if you’re from Minnesota and were paying attention you should know that.

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