Here's to Books and Blizzards
The only thing Jane Leavy didn’t share about Mickey Mantle in her fine new book The Last Boy is where and when he made his deal with the devil; the one whereby he became the best-looking [white] ballplayer in America during the decade spanning the mid 50’s & 60’s, both on and off the field; the one that eventually cost him his dignity and family, plus tax. Or maybe the deal was struck by Mickey’s father deep inside an Oklahoma zinc mine and maybe Mutt didn’t drive a hard enough bargain. Speaking of Mickey’s first coach, there is much more Oedipal fodder in this account of Mantle’s improbable life than just the hackneyed anecdote about the confrontation between father and son in a Kansas City hotel room when a demotion to the minors could have become a demotion to those Oklahoma mines.
I opened the book with a pre-existing fascination about Mantle. His stardom paralleled my boyhood and his agonizing demise at the end of life revealed some things about him that I related to. This is not to make a case for or against him versus any other ballplayer from any era. I am not a Mantle apologist. Nor did the book disillusion me, despite that it’s built around the author’s own disillusioning encounter with her childhood hero when she was assigned to interview him for the Washington Post in 1983. I’m too old for disillusionment. Instead my fascination was deepened. His extraordinary athletic prowess both obscured and excused what an otherwise uncoordinated person he was.
Laid bare are the childhood, career and afterlife of the man whose legacy runs a long, wide gamut from the tape measure home run to organ donation. Mantle is painted here as equal parts humble and boorish; a real, live Zeus who was saved from financial ruin but not himself by a nascent memorabilia craze that followed, not coincidentally, his folklorian playing days. He capitalized on celebrity despite that it confused him. He was always a ballplayer, even after he stopped playing ball, never having learned how to be anything else that could profit him.
Leavy earned commendation for the extraordinary depths of her research into, for instance, the mammoth and legendary home run at Griffith Stadium and a later one that rattled the pigeons’ perches at Yankee Stadium. So diligent and thorough was her excavation of Mantle’s ruins that I’m almost surprised she didn’t find her way to me for an account of how I got him to sign my ticket at a pro-am golf event in Iowa City in 1974. For a sportswriter Leavy is an accomplished archaeologist.
The title of the book is just right. Still, it occurred to me that Mickey Mantle would have fit as comfortably in the ranks of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys as he did in the juvenile sanctuary of the clubhouse. Only in dying did he ever grow up.
The Mick who emerges in Leavy’s portrait is someone who was to be pitied and then perhaps briefly admired, but rarely envied. His soul was as tortured as his once remarkable but finally dilapidated body.
When he was young and still enjoyed it himself I imagine Mantle would have been a choice drinking companion. In lieu of ever having that opportunity I’ll hoist this book, poured neat, as a toast to his tragicomic memory.
Small man gonna small.
Imagine if Schwarber was healthy.
J.Zimmermann with a 695 at the moment, Arrieta is second at 495. Ross apparently hasn't qualified yet with just 4 starts and 22 IP fwiw.
Cubs Foe Tomorrow -
The Cubs are facing young Joe Ross tomorrow night for the Nats.
He has an ERA+ of 542. NOT a typo.
I don't think I have seen that recently...
as if you hadn't noticed, but the Cubs are dominating baseball at the moment at a level that has not been seen too often in baseball history.
if only he could throw a ball to first base, he might have a negative ERA and the Cubs would be undefeated.
Thanks for the extensive scouting report.
How about that Lester. What a beast. A nifty 1.58 ERA/227 ERA+
Sean Rodriguez still a douche
Strop quick pitches him and so he jaws with Strop and Cubs dugout.
Get use to it Pauly Shore, Buccos are done
was the last out, bottom 6th more about Adam Warren being good or about the Pirates struggling this series?
and on cue, Len and JD discuss:
JD: It appears that Adam Warren is becoming Joe Maddon's favorite club.
Len: You mean favorite Cub?
JD: No like a favorite golf club.
Len: Like Billie Baroo (then does Ted Knight/Judge Smails impersonation from Caddyshack)
Rizzo on fire
By the way in relation to the zany suits Madden was saying his other reason for forcing players to wear them in public is to cause some awkwardness and embarrassment in the players that they'd have to overcome. He said he feels this ability might help players when they screw up in the game recover more quickly. Not sure if it will but he definitely thinks about the things he does.
Brutal. Pirates load the bases with 0 outs and fail to push any runners across. After two tough games, that really has to suck the wind out of them. Man...
Bases loaded no outs
Lester pitches out of it