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.
Yeah, Baez got Maddon wanting that D.
That is a fair point. Man this team has crazy depth.
Man, with a 20-6 record, it doesn't seem right to complain about any aspect of this team. What are you expecting? A 26-0 record? I'm not saying that the Cubs are above critique, but I am saying any problems that might exist don't appear to be a major hindrance at the moment. To quote a great philosopher "numbers don't lie, check the scoreboard."
I also recall Joe talking about he liked the way Hendricks matches up on paper against Washington. Assuming it was Joe's doing his Jedi mind tricks thing.
Sergio Mitre??!! LOVE IT!
FREE MATT CLEMENT!
Imagine if Lester would just pitch nine innings every start.
Now that's funny coming from the board martyr.
You made a comment about Lester not pitching deep enough into games, Rob and others dispute it, and then it devolves into more of you acting like you're being unfairly singled out.
"Therefore, the Cubs have not had ONE pitcher in the last five years that is a TOR starter waiting in the wings ..."
It's a little scary, especially when you look over at the Mets, the one team around the league that worries me, maybe because I have clear recollections of 1969.
Actually, the only Cub draftee since 2012 when McLeod and the new FO took over the draft who has thrown a pitch in the majors is Zack Godley. So it's not just TOR starters that we're not seeing.
We've got a David-Goliath type situation tonight, but you never know. In matchups like this, I always remember that Sergio Mitre v. Roy Halladay game the Cubs won at home several years ago.
I am going tonight, so I am not ok with that.
But, maybe Hendrix will give his patented solid 5 before Richard or Wood comes in...
One can hope.
if you save the lumber from your constant trips to the cross you can build your very own safe space to view my posts.
@billybucks you speak the truth and it's precisely what me and others have been saying for over a year. It's an unfortunate hitch in his game, one that seems correctable, but so far has not been corrected. Also a hitch that is going over 3 seasons now and no one has been able to truly exploit in any meaningful way (except sort of the Royals in that Wild Card game although they stole plenty of bases off the other pitchers in that game and the rest of the playoff teams the rest of that run).
AZBOBBOP: Nothing new on Oscar de la Cruz. Still shut down with elbow issues.
I nominate Sean Rodriguez.
who's this guy being all reasonable and stuff?
pick someone on the board who's literally worse than hitler and start screaming about it. cubs 2016!