I enjoy reading. And reading does fill in the time nicely between seasons.
The price of books in
isn’t prohibitive—it’s daylight robbery (and, in my mind, a leading contributor to the rise of illiteracy) due in large part to a trade union policy of a minimum retail price. Price of a book? An arm and a leg. Price of an English-language book? An arm and a leg. And English-language books on baseball? Matzusaka’s right arm and the legs of the ’86 Mets’ “Fast Bench” (See Bill James’ Baseball Dynasties). So every now and then, when I travel back to
, I have to purchase a whole lot of books in one go, baseball-related and non baseball-related. And some baseball-related that aren’t really baseball-related.
Visiting the Barnes & Noble’s sales section is always fun (and am guilty of adding clutter to my flat by purchasing B&N’s Classic Ballparks box featuring six replica miniatures of stadia, to my fiancée’s horror). The last time I visited it, I purchased a few of W. P. Kinsella’s books. I enjoy reading Kinsella, or rather enjoyed it. From a European’s point of view, it encompasses the way I grew up learning about and loving "
(and Canada, of course) through books and movies. You can taste the watermelon, feel the summer Sun and hear the crack of the little league bat. But it does get tiring after a while. I’ve recently read The Thrill of the Grass, The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories, and The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt. But that’s it. I’m Disney-does-This American Life-does-Baseball-ed out. So to pop the cotton candy clouds, I went on to read Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. Wow. Talk about popping those clouds. I had followed the Balco scandal, but the book really drives in the nail. But I do feel a little sorry for Bonds. He seems to be the victim of a widespread system—an international and cross-sports system. Look at the Tour de France/cyclists scandal. And now the (European, i.e. soccer) football scandal. If each successful sportsman had a book written about him and steroids, the Library of Congress would have to add a new wing. Could it be that most recent champions in sports (athletics, football, baseball, cycling…) were “juiced”(I haven’t found the courage to start reading Jose Canseco’s Juiced)? Studies are now revealing that many of the ‘50s Olympic champions also took enhancement performance drugs? Where do we start? Where do we end? Right now, I believe that it is not a question of who takes drugs; I think it is a question of who manages to find new not-yet-illegal products. Of course, this is a huge generalisation, but still…
And now, I’ve started reading John Irving’s Prayer for Owen Meany. This is more of the baseball-related that isn’t really baseball-related. Religion meets baseball, and vice-versa. I’m enjoying it immensely.
Well, this was my brief literature review while I wait for the season to start…
PS: Thanks to the lovely Coral Rae and Some Ballyard’s Michael Norton for their welcome!