SBD/April 2, 2013/MLB Season Preview

MLB Book Shelf: Meteoric Rise And Fall Of Mark Fidrych Covered In "The Bird"

Several MLB-themed books were recently published in advance of Opening Day. The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Leigh Montville reviewed DOUG WILSON’s “deft biography” of former MLBer MARK FIDRYCH, titled “THE BIRD.” Wilson in the book writes, "People remember becoming baseball fans in 1976 solely because of Mark Fidrych.” Montville wrote Wilson “covers that ride in solid, understated prose that allows both the happy and sadder moments to shine through on their merits.” He has “a fine ear for anecdotes -- which he has collected from friends and family, teammates and secondary sources -- and he never strangles the subject with too much inside baseball.” Montville: “I would have liked a bit more grit with the story ... but ‘The Bird’ is a well-written, definitive book about a good guy with a great story” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/23). In Milwaukee, Chris Foran wrote Wilson through interviews “with family, old friends and as many teammates as he could find” spends “as much time capturing the world that Fidrych came from, and never really left, as he does showing how he became a star overnight - and, just as quickly, thanks to misdiagnosed injuries and overwork, disappeared from baseball.” Foran: “The ‘Bird’ he captures is a reminder that there's still joy in the game, in playing and sharing the experience” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/29).

ANTITRUST ACTS: In L.A., David Ulin wrote among the “most compelling baseball books this season” is UCLA law professor STUART BANNER's "THE BASEBALL TRUST: A HISTORY OF BASEBALL' ANTITRUST EXEMPTION.” The book is a “look at the game's idiosyncratic legal status: Of all the major sports, it is the only one exempt from federal antitrust law” (L.A. TIMES, 3/29). In N.Y., Adam Liptak wrote the book is “a valuable corrective to the widely held view that the romance of baseball was the main reason that courts have treated it with special solicitude.” Banner is a “sure-footed historian and a legal writer of exceptional grace and clarity.” His “evident love of baseball does not seem to cloud his judgment” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29).

PRETTY AS A PICTURE: In Philadelphia, Stan Hochman wrote if books were “judged like beauty pageants,” the N.Y. Times' TYLER KEPNER’s "THE PHILLIES EXPERIENCE" would “win from here to Atlantic City.” It is a “handsome, coffee-table book, with MIKE SCHMIDT on the cover, crispy-clean uniform, classic follow-through.” Hochman: “And if you close your eyes you can hear the joy in HARRY KALAS' voice, exultant, proud, professional, proclaiming, ‘That ball is outttta here!’” Hochman wrote "don't be put off b the title" of Indians manager TERRY FRANCONA and Boston Globe writer DAN SHAUGHNESSY’s “FRANCONA: THE RED SOX YEARS.” Hochman: "This is the best book looking inside the mind of a big-league manager I have ever read, because Francona is sharp and loves the game, because Shaughnessy is eloquent and a dazzling storyteller.” Meanwhile, former MLBer MIKE PIAZZA’s book “LONG SHOT,” written with LONNIE WHEELER, “twists the Cinderella story like a soft pretzel.” It “turns it hard, salty as tears, tough to sink your teeth into” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/31).

BOOK SHELF: Globe & Mail columnist JEFF BLAIR’s “FULL COUNT: FOUR DECADES OF BLUE JAYS HISTORY” shows why this year’s team “may be the best that Toronto has fielded since JOE CARTER’s walk-off homer 20 years ago” (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/28)....In N.Y., Larry Getlen reviewed CHRISTOPHER FRANKIE’s “THE IMPROBABLE RISE AND SPECTACULAR FALL OF LENNY DYKSTRA,” writing Dykstra’s financial career “came on the backs of the people the former outfielder -- currently in prison on charges including grand theft auto and bankruptcy fraud -- lied to, stole from and worse” (N.Y. POST, 3/24).
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