Category: General Non-Fiction

“Songbook” by Nick Hornby Review

songbook

Songbook

Author:  Nick Hornby

Released:  2003

My favorite book I read last year was Ten Years in The Tub, Nick Hornby’s collection of columns from The Believer detailing his book reading and purchasing each month. Being a huge music fan as well, I was eager to read Songbook(originally published as 31 Songs, then rereleased with a few bonus essays) Hornby’s collection of essays on various songs and albums. Apparently when this book was first released, a few versions of it came with CDs containing either 11 or even 18 of the 31 songs, so readers could hear these mostly obscure songs that Hornby has chosen to write about. However in the distant future of 2017, readers can now just log on Youtube and listen to every song or album discussed in this book while reading the corresponding chapters.

I’m a pretty big music junky, but apparently my knowledge of Hornby’s favorites was lacking as prior to reading this I only knew the following tracks:
· “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen
· “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado”
· “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin
· “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana
· “Mama, You Been On My Mind” by Rod Stewart
· “Rain” by the Beatles
· “Smoke” by Ben Folds Five
· “Caravan” by Van Morrison
· “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Gregory Isaacs (I think we all know the original, but I was unfamiliar with this version)
· “Late for the Sky” by Jackson Browne

That’s only ten of thirty one tracks, so I’m going to assume that part of Hornby’s goal was to focus on music that isn’t already known by the masses. I faired much better on his discussion of albums, owning all of the ones he discussed in depth except for a Steve Earle album, and I’ve got a few others by that artist. On a related note I enjoyed the album chapters the most, although if you told me up front Nick Hornby would spend a few pages discussing Nick Cave, Aimee Mann or Blink-182 I could predict with absolute certainty that I would enjoy it.

I wish I could say I fell in love with several new songs by reading this book, but the songs I was unfamiliar with were all pleasant enough but not so amazing that I had to go out and purchase on my own. The one exception was “Frankie Teardrop” by Suicide, which was an exception because it wasn’t pleasant but instead a curiosity on unpleasantness stretching out for 10 minutes.

Right away I guess this book loses points compared to Ten Years in the Tub, as I discovered several books and authors I loved from reading that, whereas my musical horizons were not expanded by Songbook (in terms of knowledge, yes, but as of yet no new favorites). As for the writing itself, this is a very quick read with typically 5 to 7 not particularly dense pages about Hornby’s relationship to each song (how he discovered it, how often he listens to it, how it compares to other music he enjoys). My favorite music criticism tends to involve some use of the first person as music is very subjective. In order to trust somebody else’s opinion on music I need some assurances that they have good taste. When I was through with this I had a good understanding of Hornby’s musical tastes in relation to my own styles of enjoyment.

I suspect the most common criticism of Mr. Hornby’s music writing will be his preference for songs that conform to the pop style and format. The final chapter in the book is a review of the top ten albums of the previous year, and Hornby’s critiques of Destiny’s Child, Blink-182, Linkin Park, P. Diddy and others shows a definite preference for music that would be classified as “dad rock” or “oldies” by many people under the age of 30 or so today. I’ll go on record as saying that I didn’t care for a lot of those albums when they came out as well, but I can recognize that several of them resulted in tracks that are still radio favorites 15+ years later, while Hornby’s only song he really appreciated from the list was “Falling” by Alicia Keys.

The real joy in reading this book is in Hornby’s conversational style and charming anecdotes that reveal more about him than the music he is writing about. Hornby’s openness about the challenges of dealing with an autistic child, the changing perceptions of his work once he became famous and his habits upon purchasing box sets stand out in terms of enjoyable sections the reader will take away and retain. Much like Fever Pitch or Ten Years in the Tub, Hornby is upfront that the writing is autobiographical and I suspect readers familiar with his other writing will have a similar reaction (positive or negative) to his work in Songbook.

4-star

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“Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby Review

Fever Pitch

Fever Pitch

Author:  Nick Hornby

Published:  1992

I really expected I would love this book, though its fatal flaw was apparent from page one. Nick Hornby is one of my favorite authors, and even his bad books (How To Be Good) kept me entertained while reading. Here is an autobiographical account of his love for his favorite sports team over 20+ years and his observations of fandom, relationships and society’s love affair with sports. The same basic style was used in Ten Year in the Tub, and that was my favorite book I’ve read by Hornby. Also, I’m a huge sports fan, somebody who routinely watched every NBA and MLB game for my favorite teams for years, and traveled across the country to see them in different stadiums. So why did I not like this book?

In a word: soccer. I’ve never enjoyed soccer. Not playing it, not watching it, and (I can say confidently now) not reading about it. Hornby’s lifelong obsession of rooting for Arsenal in the English Premier League taught me plenty about the sport and team that I didn’t know before. Such as the seasons are too long, the same teams always win, and hooliganism/racism are as rampant of problems as the media has made them out to be. While Hornby waxes about how the sport of soccer has the perfect balance of scoring to make each moment exciting, he spends much more time explaining how so many people hate his favorite team for the frequent Nil-Nil or 1-0 outcomes.

As I trudged my way through this, I had no anchor to orient myself to the writing. Hornby would frequently talk about famous soccer players or announce who was playing by naming the stadium the game took place in and I had no idea which team he was rooting for or who was playing (unless it was the chapter title). Sure, I know Pele and can visualize Wembley, but that’s probably 4 paragraphs in a 200 page book; and because I didn’t know any of the other people/places/events that he was referencing, I didn’t come away feeling like I’d become newly educated on all things Arsenal but instead I have a mess of names and places that I couldn’t place beyond stating they are all affiliated with soccer.

There were plenty of universal statements about sport that I could of course relate to. The internal motivation for being a fan; the way fandom changes your personality and social planning; the events that make a game particularly memorable. I understand why some people would love this book, but unless you have a basic knowledge or appreciate for soccer I think there’s a good chance you’ll feel as lost as I did while reading it.

Note: For those that have seen the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie version of Fever Pitch, I’m not sure how the film could even get away claiming to be affiliated with the book. Those reading this expecting there to be a story about falling in love with a woman while still staying loyal to your team will be very disappointed. There are three romantic relationships alluded to in this book, and each is a nameless figure that goes to a few games with Hornby and either stays in a relationship with him or doesn’t (that aspect not even being related to the soccer games). This is a book about one man’s love of a team, not a relationship drama or love story. I didn’t think the movie was great, but it was so different from the book that I would not recommend basing your decision to read the book or watch the movie based on any information about the other media.

2-star

“Foul Ball: Plus Part II” by Jim Bouton Review

foul-ball

Foul Ball: Plus Part II

Author: Jim Bouton

Release date: 2005

**This review has been updated following the reading of Part Two**

Three books in and I am still a big fan of Jim Bouton’s writing. The retired baseball player’s style foreshadowed the invention of the blog and once again kept me entertained in this page turner about his attempt to get a lease on a local minor league ballpark. The resulting struggle against the local government comes off as a one sided rant by a jilted lover with enough details mixed in that you end up wondering how this is a story you haven’t heard more about.

The highest praise I can give is that upon finishing part one of the book I checked Wikipedia for an update and began trying to track down the updated version of the book for the rest of the story. After tracking it down, I’m glad that I did although Bouton accurately subtitled the Post Script to the book accurately when he wrote “In which what happens next could have been easily predicted by the reader.”

Bouton sold this reader on the rationality of his proposal for the stadium in the first book, but he also threw numerous people in the town of Pittsfield under the bus for their shady dealings with himself and partner Chip Elitzer. One can only imagine how polarizing a figure he must have been in the town following the publication of Part I. As a result, it’s clear from the start that the publication of the book has served as a Catch 22 for our heroic investors. Certainly the publication aided in getting the incumbent politicians replaced with those that would invite Bouton and Elitzer back, but it also simultaneously made both individuals Public Enemy #1 and 1a in the process.

Along with Bouton’s first three baseball biographies, this Bouton series of books beats out about everything I’ve read in the baseball non-fiction genre except the excellent “Veeck As In Wreck.” Highly recommended for fans of 30 for 30.

5-star

“How To Be a Man (And Other Illusions)” By Duff McKagan Review

how to be a man

How to Be a Man (And Other Illusions)

Author: Duff McKagan

Release Date: 2015

I originally read Duff’s first book, “It’s So Easy and Other Lies” shortly after reading Slash’s autobiography. Between the two, I preferred Duff’s book for several reasons: it was obviously written more by the musician than a ghost writer; the book had more humor in it; and the story extended to the Velvet Revolver era. I’m happy to pick up another book by McKagan based on that one, although where “It’s So Easy…” was a great biography for any music fan “How to Be a Man (And Other Illusions)” is definitely more in the vein of for hardcore fans only.

The style of this book is about half life lessons and half biography of events since “It’s So Easy…” was published. That includes some very cool events, including a book tour, a new band (the excellent Walking Papers that I’d recommend any rock fans check out), and even some reconciliation with Axl Rose. The events stop short of the Guns ‘n Roses reunion however, which is unfortunate because the story of Axl and Slash patching things up would probably be the most fascinating story in any Guns ‘n Roses biography.

Interspersed in those biographical chapters are life lessons from Duff. There are also several short chapters on subjects like dating and parenting, some more successful than others. My main criticism of the advice portions of this book is that McKagan seem to be writing as a character. Much of the advice begins “Make sure your chick….” or something in similar vernacular. While McKagan certainly has a rock and roll attitude to much of his writing, he also comes across much more intelligent in most of his writing that he does when boiling things down to life lessons.

I loved the section on 100+ records every dude should own which gave me some solid education on punk rock. The section on books to read was less successful as it was much more limited in its variety. The van tour by Walking Papers was probably the backbone of the book and served as an interesting anchor to keep coming back to, however the shadow of the Guns ‘n Roses reunion hangs over the book as the mega event that the reader knows the outcome of but knows will take place after the book is over.

With all of the excitement of Guns ‘n Roses successful reunion as well as the popularity of McKagan’s daughter’s band The Pink Slips, one can only suspect that McKagan will have plenty of material for another installment in his biography series. If Chris Jericho and Theodore Roosevelt can justify three volume biography sets, then the bass player from GnR, Loaded, Velvet Revolver, Walking Papers and more will have me back at the book store for round three as well.

3-star

“The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy” by Bill Simmons Review

basketball

The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy

Author: Bill Simmons

Release Date: October 2009

Bill Simmons is an NBA super fan, and he set out to write the definitive Book of Basketball, settling arguments and ranking the top 96 players of all time. How did he do? First, Bill’s credentials: He’s a lifetime NBA season ticket holder, a long time opinion columnist for ESPN, Grantland, and the Ringer, and sometimes host of Any Given Wednesday and The Bill Simmons Podcast. My own credentials? I’m a lifetime Utah Jazz fan, long time NBA League Pass subscriber, and religious reader of any articles by Zach Lowe, Kevin Pelton or John Hollinger. I’m also a big fan of Bill Simmons, so I think I can be fair in evaluating his polarizing styles.

What Simmons got right: this book is written like a 700+ page version of his annual Trade Value column, so if you like his writing you’ll be pleased at the style of his prose. He also wrote some interesting sections on the History of the NBA through 1984 and some of the most honest writing about race in the NBA I’ve ever read. He obviously read a ton of older books about basketball, and has some great anecdotes and opinions from each players contemporaries. More than any other source he uses, the old magazine articles and books provide additional knowledge about NBA greats that I didn’t have prior to reading.

What Simmons got wrong: As much as it pains me to say, after reading 700 page of Simmons thoughts on the NBA, it’s questionable how much Simmons understands the game of basketball. Simmons does a great job of understanding players histories and personalities, but for the actual game of basketball you’d get a much more informed opinion from somebody like Zach Lowe on what makes a player great. Simmons routinely emphasizes one moments from a player’s career to justify calling them clutch or a choker, completely ignores longevity or distance between record holders and the next closest guy, and routinely forgets that the NBA is a team sport and players are stuck on bad teams sometimes. Simmons kind of acknowledges this with Kevin Garnett, but seems to grasp that Garnett was still the same player regardless of whether he ever came to Boston or not.

Simmons ranks Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time. That’s fine with me. He also talks about how two of the Bulls teams were two of the best six teams ever. Also, how nobody was beating MJ those six years. Logically then, the second best player of all time could be playing those six years, and not win a ring. Bill Simmons also puts Bill Walton on a pedestal for his career; Walton only played about 6 fulls seasons. Are you seeing the problems with his logic yet? Basketball is a team sport, and I’m sorry but Robert Horry should not be mentioned in the same sentence with Charles Barkley or Karl Malone. Also, by the same logic, no way Bob Cousy should be ranked so high if Bill Russell was as amazing as Simmons is saying.

So yeah, I got frustrated at times with the double standards for Bill’s guys versus everybody else. The writing was still fun, with plenty of great footnotes tying the situations in the game to popular tv shows, movies and other pop culture (even Ric Flair made two appearances), and I laughed a few times out loud. But as an expert opinion settling debates? Sorry, nothing here I trust to pull out during an argument with another NBA fan.

Random bits:
A particular pet peeve was Simmons basing his opinion on players from the times they’d come to Boston.

In the Nowitzki chapter (written before Mavs won title) he stoops for Dirk because he crosses a ’42 threshhold (points plus assists plus rebounds average for playoffs) and explains how that puts him on elite list that overruns his prior playoff chokes. On the list twice? Karl Malone, who gets dinged for the memorable play with Jordan in 98 finals. Nowitski also gets dinged for never having won a title, which of course he did shortly after the book came out. Again, he was the same player before and after.

Celtics like Dave Cowens, Sam Jones and Bob Cousy were ranked way too high for team accomplishments.

This book had some of the best discussions of race in the sport that I’ve ever read.

Note **I wrote a much longer review for this one, but then my Firefox window closed through some keyboard shortcut I wasn’t aware of and I can’t find a way to recover what I had written.**

3-star

 

“The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune” by Stuart Galbraith Review

emp

The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune

Author: Stuart Galbraith

Release Date: 2002

“The Emperor and the Wolf” is an ambitious dual biography that succeeds to varying degrees depending on what you are expecting from it. I think there are five main areas that the author attempted to cover in this 600+ page treatise:

1. The professional works of Akira Kurosawa
2. The professional works of Toshiro Mifune
3. Japanese Cinema from the 1940’s through the 1980’s
4. The personal life of Akira Kurosawa
5. The personal life of Toshiro Mifune

I’ve used numbers instead of bullet points, because the amount of time spent on each of these topics is very uneven, which seemed to be the author’s intention. For example, I would estimate that 45% of the book is about topic number 1, 30% topic number 2, 10% about topic number 3, 10% topic number 4 and 5% topic number 5. For that reason, if you are mainly interested in how the films of these two individuals were made, what they were about, how much the cost, and what the critical and audience response to those films are, this is certainly the book for you. If you are hoping for anecdotes about Kurosawa’s personal life, his parenting, or his suicide attempt, you will have to dig through copious amounts of information about the plots of films he co-wrote or the resumes of actors he used in small parts to get a glimpse of it.

There is also much more written about Kurosawa than Mifune in this book, which is likely to be expected considering their statures in the history of cinema. Even prior to their careers however, there is much more information on Kurosawa’s early life than Mifune’s, whose early years in China are tacked on to an extensive Kurosawa chapter as a seeming afterthought. Despite the disparity in content about the two, some interesting similarities were still present, such as both men being able to avoid conflict in World War II; Kurosawa by being medically ineligible, Mifune being stuck working with airplane cameras. Kurosawa was able to become a director much younger than many of his contemporaries that went into the field (at Toho, new directors apprenticed at being 2nd and 3rd assistant directors for years before being allowed to direct) by being recommended for an opening and taking advantage of it. Similarly, Mifune was able to jump to the front of the movie star line by earning Kurosawa’s favor at a “fresh face” audition (this was one of the better stories in the book, as Mifune’s anger confused the original judges on the panel, but Kurosawa saw it as potential unlike anybody else he had seen).

Both individuals early careers are often forgotten or unknown to casual fans of Japanese cinema, with only their massive successes together really permeating American culture (films like “Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” “Sanjuro,” “Hidden Fortress” and “High and Low” have either been seen by cinema junkies or been programmed into our brains by their American remakes and homages). This book did a nice job of educating me on some of those earliest films, such as “Sanshiro Sugata” for Kurosawa and “Snow Trail” for Mifune. On “Snow Trail,” for example, Mifune believed he was only hired because it was a dangerous mountain shoot and he was expendable in case he died during the shoot; there may have been some truth to that as in addition to acting he had to carry 100lbs of gear up with him before they could film. While both individuals had fame and acclaim in Japan by the time films like “Scandal” were made, it was not until “Rashomon” was released that both became well known to international audiences as well.

The most interesting stories recalled in this book were related to “Seven Samurai,” my favorite Kurosawa film along with “Sanjuro.” A film that is about three hours long and tells the story of samurais recruited by farmers to protect their village, and ending with one of the most comprehensible battles scenes ever filmed was the end product of a 500 page script, detailing the history of every farmer, with details planned ahead of time as minute as cutting a characters hair in his first scene to illustrate the passage of time passed in the film by the regrowth of his hair in each subsequent appearance. Taking one year to film (by a company that routinely released over a hundred films a year), at the time it was released it was the longest and most expensive film in Japanese history.

While I enjoyed the detailed histories of the films, and the critical analysis of both figures (both at the time of their work and in retrospect), the lack of personal information about both men was a disappointment for me. Tidbits such as that Mifune would never use an assistant, preferred to do things himself on films, or that he was considered kind by his co-stars, and always knew his lines were interesting, but they tended to add more to what sort of actor he was than what sort of person he was. Similarly, a break from discussing films to discuss Kurosawa buying a new house after “High and Low” was actually jarring in that it deviated the book’s pattern of discussing pre-production, movie plot, production and critical reception.

The things I really wanted to know about these two men prior to reading this book involved their downfalls. Both enjoyed their largest successes working with each other, but despite that, they seemingly avoided each other for the last thirty years of their lives and had their worst critical and financial projects after going on their own. While definitive reasons and answers are never shared by either individual, the turning point for Kurosawa seemed to be his work on “Tora Tora Tora.” What was to be Kurosawa’s first work on an American picture ended up with him being removed and accused of having mental problems. Besides being his first American picture, it would have been his first picture in color and first with a new crew of non-Toho regulars. The result seems to be both a difficult situation for the director and a genuine breakdown on his part if daily set reports are to be believed. (In addition to that, he also had a dishonest translator dealing with the United States parent company). The result was Kurosawa’s temporary fall from grace, and by the time he was making films again, he believed that Mifune’s quality of work had slipped. Although scheduling problems was the official reason for the two not working together (and Mifune’s own production company certainly kept him busy) it seemed more likely it was Kurosawa’s resentment for Mifune appearing in (to his mind) subpar stuff like “Shogun” that disinterested him in his favorite leading actor.

Despite the massive scope of this dual biography, I think it could have benefitted from one substantial addition accompanied by a corresponding major subtraction. Instead of the extensive plot summaries of every movie in both individual’s filmographies, adding a third individual to the subject matter in the form of Takashi Shimura would have provided some excellent contrast. While Mifune gained acclaim by starring in 16 of Kurosawa’s 30 films, his co-star in all of them was Takashi Shimura who acted in 21 of Kurosawa’s films, including starring in “Ikiru” (one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces that is focused on significantly in this book) without Mifune. Shimura also continued to act for Kurosawa through “Kagemusha” and had as interesting of a career outside of Kurosawa’s films that Mifune did (appearing in more Zatoichi films than Mifune, two Godzilla films, and in successful Kurosawa-less Mifune films like “Samurai III: Dual at Ganryu Island”). In addition to that, he was a father figure to Mifune and was close enough to him that when Mifune was dying in a hospital, Shimura’s widow was one of only 2 non-relatives allowed to see him. More than any other person, I associate him with Kurosawa and Mifune, and while mentioned frequently in this book his depiction as just the most common of Kurosawa’s stock actors seemed to shortchange him from his role as the other face of Kurosawa’s best films.

4-star

“Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos” by Jonah Keri Review

up

Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos

Author: Jonah Keri

Release Date: March 2014

“Up, Up and Away” is the latest entry in a series of books which I’ve been reading based on the shared former employer of their authors. For a few years, I’d check the website Grantland every day on my lunch break and basically click on anything non-Football related under the (usually correct) assumption that whatever the article was about I’d either learn something, or be kept entertained for its duration. Around this same time, I discovered Twitter which further allowed me to follow authors and reporters that I enjoyed and not only become aware the instant they wrote a new article, but also their humor and interests outside of their writing. With Grantland having closed up shop, several of the writers have relocated to The Ringer, while still others are easy enough to track in their new writing gigs through Twitter. Several of my favorite authors from the website have since (or previously) published full novels, which I’ve tracked down. That’s a long way of explaining why I read a book about the Montreal Expos, a baseball franchise that I never cared about or had any interest in.

To be clear, I love baseball. Along with basketball, it’s my favorite sport. While definitely a Cubs fan, with the exception of the Cardinals and Yankees I don’t really dislike any franchises and have a pretty solid knowledge of all the teams and their best players throughout history. This includes trips to both Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame and Museum and Kansas City for the Negro Leagues Museum, and trips to ballparks in cities from Florida to Arizona and most everywhere in between. So, why did I not appreciate this book more, when it’s about a sport I love, by a talented and knowledgeable author that I have read and enjoyed before this? I have several theories, and a few personal reasons that detracted from the overall enjoyment.

My biggest theory regarding why the book didn’t work was its scope. Telling the history of a franchise, from creation to relocation in 400 pages means some things will get glossed over and every instance the author chooses to focus on becomes paramount. Here, Keri did tons of interviews with former players and personnel but in most all instances the resulting inclusion is just a line or two of supplementary material that left few moments a reader would be sure to remember long after reading the book. Where a long conversation with Felipe Alou was referenced in the acknowledgment section, I can’t help but think the reader would have benefitted (and preferred) more of that conversation framed together at once than several one sentence comments sprinkled throughout the book. Likewise, Keri’s inclusion of stories of several game recaps from games he personally attended with friends serves the purpose of bringing a fan element to the book, but could have (should have) been replaced with expanded information on player and personnel trades/departures and additional financial information to support or refute his position on the importance of the team in the community.

Perhaps narrowing the scope of the book to just the playoff team or just the exodus of the Expos would have been more enthralling for the reader. While there is a lot of information covered here, the relatively small amount of time spent on each era ends up making this a resource somewhat comparable to Wikipedia (which is a great resource, but not what I’m looking for when purchasing a new book).

Another possibility for why this book didn’t work as well as it could have was the inherent dichotomy between the subject matter and the author’s attitude. Keri obviously loved the Expos and the new afterward on the book was tacked on to show all the other Montreal citizens who felt the same way. A book just highlighting something worthy of that admiration would have made sense, but here a complete history of the team leaves Keri unable to excuse the awful facilities, the rampant drug use, the multiple losing seasons, and final exile of the franchise. The warts and all approach is historically accurate, however a non-Expo fan is not likely to come away from the book with a new appreciation for the former franchise. The closest I came to changing perspectives on the team for the better was in reading Pedro Martinez’s comments following his World Series victory. Again, more focus on the individuals and their recollections of the legacy of the team might have improved the read as opposed to an overly brief complete history that we are left with.

Finally, as much as I enjoy Jonah Keri’s writing, as a disciple of the Bill Simmons school of writing he is likely to alienate some of his readers with his own personal beliefs coming through in his writing. With a column online, or his twitter account, you kind of know what you’re getting, but for the random reader picking up his book it can be a bit objectionable. At times I was reminded of the individual at work who begins telling you their political views in hushed tones with the expectation that you must surely agree with them. I’m used to ignoring Keri’s views on legalization of drugs, PED’s and discounting lucky hits from MVP candidates online, but while reading his book more of the same prejudices came out. It’s clear he sides with the players on labor issues, hates Bud Selig, and believes small ball strategies are inherently wrong. In an article putting forth those views he can defend them and put forth an argument the reader can accept or reject. Here though, the views were usually included with either no supplementary information, or just enough to give the worst facts against his target with no balance or attempt at objectivity for the other side. Just one more hazard of writing about a very broad topic in a short amount of space.

So I didn’t care for this book. Keri’s still a talented columnist and seems like a good guy online. I’m sure I’ll also check out his other book about the Tampa Bay Rays as soon as I track down a copy of it.

2-star