Saturday, May 21, 2005

Book smart

On a sleepy Saturday suitable for catching up on some reading, a few interesting snippets from notable recent baseball books . . .

- From "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis. (One more time for that insight-free nitwit Joe Morgan: Billy Beane did not write this book, and you might do your job better if you actually read it):

"One thing led to another, and before long, Billy Beane had agreed to run the Boston Red Sox. He would be guaranteed $12.5 million over five years, the most anyone had ever been paid to run a baseball team. Billy hadn't yet signed the contract, but that was just a formality. He had already persuaded (the Oakland) owner to let him out of his contract, and started to overhaul the Red Sox. In his mind's eye he had traded Red Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand to some team that didn't understand that a .293 batting average was blow to the offense when it came attached to a .330 on-base percentage. He'd signed Edgardo Alfonso to play second base and Bill Mueller to play third. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was gone and White Sox backup Mark Johnson was in his place. Manny Ramirez's glove was requisitioned by general management, and the slugger would spend the rest of his Red Sox career as a designated hitter. All in his mind's eye."

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- From "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty" by Buster Olney. (Buster Olney? Yep, definitely a stage name):

"Pat Gillick, then the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays - the first of (David) Wells's many teams - was sure that if Wells had been more disciplined, he would have been one of the game's great pitchers, someone who might have won 300 games. But from the outset, managing Wells was a nightmare. . . . If the pitching coach called for 10 wind sprints in the outfield, Wells might do five, if he did any at all. His eating habits were atrocious, he drank copiously, and his weight ballooned. He tended to think of himself as the beleagured victim of anal-retentive geeks. But his habits constantly put his bosses - from Gillick to Toronto manager Cito Gaston to Joe Torre to Mel Stottlemyre - in the position of having to demand accountability from him, which in turn would anger Wells. He would defend himself with his respectable statistics, but Gillick and others recognized his far greater gifts and were frustrated by the waste, his unreliability and selfishness. Most years, he was a pitcher with grade A ability who was getting a lot of C minuses. In a tense meeting in 1998, Wells once accused Torre and Stotlemyre of not having any faith in him, but in a sense, they and others believed in more in David Wells than he did."

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- From "Diehard" by Stuart O'Nimrod. (Featuring sporadic passages by BEST-SELLING AUTHOR STEPHEN KING!!!!):

Dear Red Sox Diehard's Diary: Today I finagled some choice seats to Fenway Park!!!! Just told the Sawx (that's how we diehards say it here!) P.R. person I was writing a book with BEST-SELLING AUTHOR STEPHEN KING!!! and, voila! Must be in the front row! We were on that tall part of fence in the outfield - you know, the Monster Wall!!! Best seats in the house!!! Says who? Says a Sox diehard, pal!!! Gosh, I've loved them sooooooooo long . . . almost a fraction of my life, at least! (Curse YOU, Babe! If only Quinn Buckner caught that grounder in '87!! Booooo, Bob Boone, Yankees third baseman and breaker of hearts all across New England and certain parts of Connecticut!!!!!) Yeah, the Sox (Sawxxx!) are my passion sort of, mostly because they've kinda been a part of my life at certain points and stuff, I guess. I watched them some in college, especially on the nights they pre-empted "Gimme A Break" (R.I.P, Nell Carter - sniff!!!) and I used to see their scores on ESPN a lot (boo-yeah to you, Stu!) and I've REALLY been following them since my publisher convinced my man S-King (that's BEST-SELLING AUTHOR STEPHEN KING to you!) to do this book. The Pittsburgh Pirates are my first love as far as sports and that stuff goes - shhhh, don't tell my publisher - but no one's buying "The Rennie Stennett Story," know what I mean? So I'm a Sox diehard now!!! Diehard! That outfielder Matt Damon - he looks like Jesus! See? Love 'em. What else? Details, details . . . oh, Sox (Sawx!!) outfielder Gabe Kaplan looked at me today - I melted like a giddy school girl! I did! And I caught some balls during batting practice with my giant butterfly net!!!! (Usually I just use it to chase butterflies, but since I'm a diehard and all . . . it's handy!!!) Oh, and I guess I should mention that thing that you probably saw on the news. Yeah . . . that. I really didn't mean to shove that kid off the Monster Wall, honest. But when a baseball - hit by the great Dauber, no less - is coming your way, all is fair in love and batting practice home runs, know what I mean? Anyway, Pedro Ramirez was there to break the little bugger's fall, so it's all good. I even almost thought about giving him one of the 67 baseballs in my net. Some of the so-called fans around me were yelling at me, but what would the kid do with a baseball with two broken arms?? It's not like he'll be playing Little League anytime soon. Geez. Okay, that's all for this chapter. Gotta go email Steph - I mean, S-King! Gosh, I really hope he stayed awake for the game this time. It was at 1 p.m., after all. Wake up, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR S-KING!!!!! This diehard can't do this book alone!!!!"

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As for a Not-All-That-Random Card of the Day . . .

Damn, can you believe he wanted to dump Varitek? For the 1,918th time, say it in unison . . . thank goodness for Theo.