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Supposedly an embedded report on the 2010 Clinton LumberKings, Seattle Mariners Midwest League affiliate. Entirely more about the author, but that’s intentional. It’s creative/literary nonfiction. I’m used to this genre, but it really doesn’t occur in baseball nonfiction much and when it does it’s by younger essayists. No problem there, but it will take a while for those who only read baseball nonfiction to get used to.

Unfortunately it’s also part of the memoir genre, so critiquing the book may get into critiquing the author as displayed in the book. I think Mann wasn’t old enough to write this book. He’s too close in age to the players (24 at writing) and too far in age from the locals he also profiled. It also doesn’t help that he’s a Vassar grad from New York City attending the University of Iowa’s MFA program who then plops himself into semi-rural working-class Iowa for this project. Simply put, he doesn’t understand Iowa. Iowa City as a college town is much its own thing, not resembling the Iowa he has chosen to work in. (I am questioning why he didn’t try to follow the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the team far closer to his Iowa City base; perhaps the Mariners were the only Midwest League parent club that would co-operate with a nontraditional journalist?) He doesn’t understand the players either; I think some of his subjects, like Nick Franklin, may be from similar economic backgrounds, but they’re not from the same region of the US (or the same country) or the same religion, or the same college background. He mentions his college drug use–ballplayers get tested, they’re not supposed to do that. They wasted their university experience in a completely different way if they had a university experience at all. He doesn’t get why he’s dragged into taking players to bars or to Wal-Mart–he has a car, the players don’t, and they’re exchanging the information he needs for their project for car rides they need to conduct life off the field. He’s not a friend, he has nothing in commmon with them; the players aren’t stupid and they seem to know that he holds them in a mixture of awe and contempt. As Pulp sung, “Everybody hates a tourist.” The part that really got me in his interaction with players was when Mann went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with Danny Carroll. First off, neither of them were really old enough to get this movie–Bryan Lee O’Malley is doing nostalgia for thirty-somethings in the comic–and Mann missed a major analogy from the comic; Scott and a bunch of other characters are from small towns in Ontario that are a lot like small towns in Iowa. But, in this scene at the movie, we see that Carroll is at least inquisitive about cultures he doesn’t belong to.

The best part of this book is the oral history of Clinton that Mann only touches on, with the rise and fall of various industries and the union struggles of the 1980s. He understands that but I don’t think he really could get enough of a feel for his subjects to capture it well or in depth.

The other problem I found in this book was in Mann’s treatment of female fans. It seems that he believes that there are no nonsexual reasons for women to be baseball fans. From page 59 of the hardcover edition: “Women watch, never play. Women support, sometimes they love.” Most of the female fans he follows are middle-aged or elderly; I’m surprised he didn’t go the more logical “team mom” route but this is even worse. He does touch a little bit on groupies/seasonal player girlfriends but the more I thought about it the less I think that the women in relationships with players are trying to latch on to stardom or follow the players around than I think that they’re looking for the same relationship with sex that men have. These are small towns. A woman has to stay there, but the players are always leaving.

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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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The complete research for a BCB post to be ejected later–post title says it all; all players born before 1973 signed to major league contracts for the 2010 season. (more…)

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rebooting the blog

I haven’t been posting here because I’ve either been too busy or I’ve been blogging at Brew Crew Ball. The busy I can’t fix, but due to work fixing my schedule and not for the better I won’t be doing the occasional weekend shift at BCB. Thus, well, I should be blogging and putting up short non-Brewers link roundups here. (KLSnow and the gang still have the best Brewers link roundups; start your day with a Frosty Mug.)

Despite the Twins playing outdoors this year, I’m not changing the name of the blog either. I got seriously scorched on my trip to Detroit and I hate heat so I’ll be safely blogging from inside. My trips to Milwaukee are scheduled for May and September and the Miller Park roof will probably be closed.

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