Book Review

When Stats Add Up to Poetry

I haven’t read too much John Updike. And I never saw Ted Williams play ball live, even on television. But honest to God, Updike’s famous essay on Williams’ last game [“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”] is on my list of favorite things. I already have a recorded version on CD which I listen to occasionally just as I re-watch “Hoosiers” every now and again as an antidote for creeping cynicism. And now, thanks to the Library of America, I have it bound in hardback too. I regard it instantly as a prized possession, a piece of me the heirs shall have to fight over in my aftermath. Why do I value it so? Because it marries a couple that were meant for each other and each of whom mean a lot to me - baseball and writing.

Updike was no baseball fan. But he saw the essence of the game’s appeal more clearly than just about all of the game’s most ardent followers are able to and articulated it. His insights are there for the taking in his reflections on the very last at bat in the career of the enigmatic Teddy Ballgame.

Book Review: "Chicago Cubs Yesterday & Today"

Steve Johnson, Chicago Cubs Yesterday & Today (Minneapolis: Voyageur Press) 2008. 144pp. $26.95

Any new addition to the collection of Chicago Cubs anthologies, encyclopedias and coffee table books is faced with the elemental problem of distinguishing itself from the dozens of other works competing for your beer money. In the case of Steve Johnson's Chicago Cubs Yesterday and Today, published by Voyageur Press, the pitch is twofold. First, instead of a chronological ordering that begins in the past and proceeds linearly towards the present, Johnson organized Yesterday and Today topically, juxtaposing pictures from different eras in Cubs history for side-by-side comparison. Hence the title. Second, Johnson presents an extensive and diverse selection of historical photos, many in color, from the archives of the Chicago Historical Society, the Hall of Fame, and private collections. While the execution of the whole "then and now concept" was about as consistent as a young Kerry Wood - full of promise, if alternatively brilliant and off target - the photo selection is more Greg Maddux - consistently great.

 

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  • Oops. Colin Rea leaves the game with injury.

    John Beasley 1 min 9 sec ago view
  • Cubs optioned Justin Grimm to Iowa after the game. No corresponding roster move announced yet, but it could be Brian Matusz. 

    Arizona Phil 2 min 32 sec ago view
  • Marlins with a quick 4 spot vs Jaime Garcia. Osuna HR the highlight.

    Cubster 40 min 42 sec ago view
  • Brian Matusz, supposedly he has attachments. Hope it's not like an email with a virus attached.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKtNcsXx_y4

    Cubster 53 min 17 sec ago view
  • One thing to remember about Chapman -- he can be magic, but his ERA is higher than Rondon's this year. 100+ mph is fun, but I'd love to see a few more sliders. I think he enjoys the crowd reaction from 103 mph.

    billybucks 1 hour 11 min ago view
  • "Diamondbacks designated RHP Josh Collmenter for assignment."

    aww...he was my 2nd favorite crapballer. his control issues are rather severe at the moment.

    crunch 1 hour 16 min ago view
  • haha

    crunch 1 hour 36 min ago view
  • Wow -- Chapman gives up a hit and everything completely caves in. I think the Cubs went into collective shock.

    Stolen base with the pitcher holding the ball, WP that should have been caught or blocked, then Russell with a 2-out error on a routine play. Cubs handed them 2 runs. Throw in a Fowler bobble and it was a mess.

    Hopefully, that is all out of their system now -- let's get a W tomorrow.

    billybucks 2 hours 45 min ago view
  • First time I've ever seen a base running slump -- he's made some poor decisions recently, but I thought it was a great idea to try to score there -- it's not like Heyward was going to get a 2-out hit against a LHP. Sliding feet-first into home is probably the safe (ugh) way to go, but it's hard to get the foot on the plate.

    billybucks 2 hours 46 min ago view
  • Yup. He got squeezed (twice) on the first walk, but, when you have one-run lead and the other team is trying to make an out -- take the out.

    billybucks 3 hours 2 min ago view
  • Wasn't fun!

    Brick 3 hours 6 min ago view
  • Clearly the Cubs need to clear out the farm and trade for another closer

    Where's Ed Lynch when you need him?

    Eric S 3 hours 8 min ago view
  • Those were more entertaining times.

    Charlie 3 hours 15 min ago view
  • I wonder if there's an actual cause to this because they were going up hacking at everything. Wonder if scoring a bunch of runs makes you feel like you.can swing at anything and hit it.

    johann 3 hours 22 min ago view
  • That second walk he gave Up was awful though with no pitches even close to being a strike. He was trying to pitch around bunt and that almost never works. That said Rondon should have been brought in after the first walk and should have been left in to finish the inning because he was looking like he had good stuff.

    johann 3 hours 36 min ago view
  • Remember when Bryant used to be able to run the bases with impunity?

    CTSteve 3 hours 39 min ago view