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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  • Former Major League All-Star Jim Hickman dies at 79

    http://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/2016/06/25/...

    QuietMan 50 min 58 sec ago view
  • Yep...sort of. Matheny says Rosenthal will no longer pitch the 9th, and they will mix/match Oh, Siegrist and Broxton.

    billybucks 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • Duane Underwood now 0-5 with a 5.44 ERA for Tenn. Urp. Warren not sharp at Iowa tonight. When will Cease and Hudson be ready?

    On a positive note, Jiminez with his 10th HR tonight. He has a .924 OPS -- the only player in the league with an OPS over .900. Leads the lead in 2B, SLG and OPS, tied for the league lead in HR and 3rd in Avg. Nice!

    billybucks 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • - The pressure of going for the regular-season wins record is now gone.
    - Joe will come up with more wacky dress-up ideas for the team to wear after they lose their next get-away game.
    - There is more clarity on Spencer Patton.
    - We play the Reds next. They aren't very good.
    - We'll have at least a 9 game lead after today.
    EDIT: - Contreras looks like the real deal.

    Other than that, not much -- nasty stretch. Two ugly losses in the last 4 games.
    Ugh -- give Lackey a 4-1 lead, you hope for better.

    billybucks 3 hours 16 min ago view
  • Joe: "We lost. They beat us. Now where's my '09 Guigal Bordeaux glass...?

    The E-Man 4 hours 13 min ago view
  • I forgot how rail thin skinny Carl Edwards Jr. Is - he threw some nasty stuff - hope that continues

    Eric S 4 hours 19 min ago view
  • HAHAHA! I love it here! Brilliant...

    The E-Man 4 hours 22 min ago view
  • "The pressure of going for the regular-season wins record is now gone."

    Brilliant. Maddon is a genius!

    Brick 4 hours 26 min ago view
  • "Drink copiously but responsibly."

    Done and done. Thanks for that.

    Brick 4 hours 27 min ago view
  • Oil Can Boyd now pitching for the Cubs

    Eric S 4 hours 36 min ago view
  • It's a long season. There will be stretches like this. It's Saturday night. Drink copiously but responsibly.

    Jackstraw 4 hours 43 min ago view
  • That valuable RBIGIDP.

    Brick 4 hours 43 min ago view
  • Someone talk me down here.

    Brick 4 hours 57 min ago view
  • I remember AZ PHIL talking about Bour's power during the Hendry era.

    The E-Man 5 hours 25 min ago view
  • Time to scrap the scouting report on Justin Bour and get a new one. Sheesh.

    billybucks 5 hours 27 min ago view
  • Contreras seems pretty adamant he'll play anywhere Madden wants him to so as long as he stays hot and with all the injuries it'll be pretty nice to have yet another bat Madden can move around.

    johann 8 hours 26 min ago view