Friday, May 22, 2015

Baseball best-sellers, May 22, 2015

Posting a bit earlier than usual today because Rachel has her second graduation ceremony today. Where did the time go?

NEW STUFF: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

  1.,204,203,200_.jpgPedro, by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman

  2. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen

  3. Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak, by Travis Sawchik

  4. The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes, by Posada with Gary Brozek

  5. Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington

  6. The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers, by Jon Pessah

  7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis

  8. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman

  9. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

  10. The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes, by Gary Cieradkowski

A book about the Pirates?Refreshing. Have this one on my ever-growing pile of things to read.

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. As of this post, the ranking is 235,774, up nicely from last week’s 776,220. Maybe that fifth-grade classmate I re-met on Facebook actually did buy the book. Still, we can do better. If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.


Baseball best-sellers, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Author appearance: Jeff Katz (but wait, there are more)

Normally, I post things like this beforehand…

We attended our daughter’s graduation from NYU, held at Yankee Stadium (that’s her on the first base side. Not, not that one; that one, the cute one). Now normally, when a ballgame is over, the fans all skedaddle as quickly as possible. Yesterday, however, was wall-to-wall people, milling outside, trying to meet up with their kids. Actually, milling is probably not the correct word, since it connotes actual movement. And technically, being outside the Stadium, there were no walls, but you get my meaning.

We went out for a late lunch and since I don’t get to Manhattan that much and Jeff Katz, author of Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball,was the featured guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, I decided to stick around. (I recently had him on for a Bookshelf Conversation.)

The event was well-attended. Katz, currently the mayor of Cooperstown, grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, so many of his old cronies showed up for another entertaining session hosted by Clubhouse proprietor, Jay Goldberg.


But in addition, there were a few baseball writers in attendance including Lee Lowenfish and Ed Lucas and his son and memoir collaborator Chris, and myself (apologies if I omitted anyone I’ve never met before). Also on hand, former Major League pitcher Bob Tufts, who appeared in 11 games as a rookie for the San Francisco Giants in 1981 and is now an adjunct professor at NYU where he teaches business development; and Perry Barber, a leading advocate for female umpires in professional baseball.

As it happens, I’ll be in “the city” for the next Bergino event featuring Steve Steinberg, co-author with Lyle Spatz of The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees. Maybe I’ll see you there.


Author appearance: Jeff Katz (but wait, there are more)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I don't mean to be critical...

But I’ve often felt that a fair number of these “literary” book reviews were semi-incestuous. That is, the authors travel in a lot of the same circles, went to the same schools, know the same people. It frequently struck me as a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”  quid pro quo kind of thing. That’s how I felt when The Art of Fielding was the darling of the day. I don’t know what this says about me, but I often feel the fault lies within me, that I’m not “getting it” when I don’t agree with the fawning that goes on.

That’s why when In see something like this piece by the New York Times‘ public editor in the Sunday Week in Review section, I’m mollified, if just for a little while.

I don't mean to be critical...

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Bookshelf Conversation: Jeff Katz

When I saw Richard Sandomir’s article in The New York Times last year about about Jeff Katz , the Mayor of Cooperstown who writes about baseball, I thought: there but for the grace of God….

My wife, a veterinarian, had a chance to get a job in Cooperstown way back when our daughter was two. While she had her interview, I sat outside with our daughter and just enjoyed being in the surroundings. I’ve always loved the quiet little town nestled in the mountains of upstate New York, but then I had only ever visited in good weather.

As you probably know, my wife didn’t accept the job so I can only wonder if that could have been me: the Jewish mayor of Cooperstown who’s last name begins “Ka…” and who writes about baseball. What a life.

Katz published The Kansas City A’s and the Wrong Half of the Yankees: How the Yankees Controlled Two of the Eight American League Franchises During the 1950s in 2007, before he was in office. This year he’s published the well-received Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball.,204,203,200_.jpgI had the opportunity to speak with His Honor before his upcoming visit to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan on Wednesday, May 20. Since I’ll already be in Manhattan for my daughter’s graduation  told you it was way back when), I’ve already made my reservation. I suggest you to the same, since space it limited and the Mayor, who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island will no doubt have a lot of old friends stopping by.

Late entry: The New York Times included another mention of Katz and the book in the May 17 “On Baseball”  column

The Bookshelf Conversation: Jeff Katz

Monday, May 11, 2015

Japanese baseball then and then

Two pieces from Kris Kosaka in The Japan Times on the “national game there and here.

First he tells us about Robert Fitts’ new biography on Masanori Murakami, the first baseball player from Japan to play for a Major League team in the U.S. when he appeared for the San Francisco Giants in 1965. we have a piece on Robert Whiting’s You Gotta Have Wa, which Kosaka considers “the definitive text on Japanese culture seen through the lens of sport.”

Japanese baseball then and then

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An unexpected source: The Atlantic

I was listening to a Leonard Lopate interview with Greg Proops, a comic featured on the popular TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, host of The Smartest Man in the World podcast, and, most recently, author of The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of Literacy, A Rancorous Reportage, A Concise Curriculum of Coolwhich devotes probably a disproportionate amount of space to baseball.

Proops is a major and knowledgeable fan. The latter is an important distinction. A lot of celebrities say their fans, but Proops walks the walk. I offer to you his “Walkers” episode from 2012 in which he describes how raucous and filthy the game was as played in the late 19th century (warning; LOTS of NSFW language). You can find it within this entry I posted after hearing that podcast. is a long-winded way of getting to my point: During the interview, Lopate mentioned an article he had read in the February issue of The Atlantic titled “Making Baseball Less Boring.” When I went to the magazine’s website and typed “baseball” in the search box, I was presented with over 16,000 hits. Granted many of them refer to baseball only tangentially, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there if you have the patience to sift through it. For example, three articles I printed for later reading include “Moneyball 2.0: The New Team-Oriented Study of Baseball” (2014); “A Cultural History of the Baseball Card” (2014); and “Battering the Batter” (2015).

You can find similar thoroughness on the websites of other major magazines. Happy hunting.

In case you were wondering, “The Last of the Pure Baseball Men” the cover story for the August 1981 issue, refers to Calvin Griffith, the late owner of Washington Senators/Minn. Twins.


An unexpected source: The Atlantic

Monday, May 4, 2015

A 30-in-30 review

(As opposed to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series).

Once again, Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News has done a great service to the baseball reading community with his annual 30-books-in-30-days series on his “Farther off the Wall” blog. I advise going deep into each piece because Hoffarth offers interesting links among his DVD-type “extras.” Did I say extras? This would be considered the special bonus edition.

The only knock — and this is obviously an East Coast bias — is that he leans heavy on Dodgers/California-based books.

Here’s the rundown:

A 30-in-30 review