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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  • so...

    anyone else ready for the all-star break? =p

    it's been a tough past couple weeks...except that reds series. i miss playing the reds. that was cool.

    crunch 2 hours 50 min ago view
  • To take my mind of this latest disaster...wow, I thought baseball money was crazy, but NBA money is now super-wacko crazy. Joakim Noah is 31 with bad knees and absolutely no offensive game. He can't make a layup. The Knicks just agreed to pay him $72M over 4 years. Holy crap.

    billybucks 3 hours 46 min ago view
  • "if"?

    billybucks 3 hours 50 min ago view
  • Thank you, Jason, for allowing me to get to bed at a decent hour. Very thoughtful.

    It will be very interesting to see what Theo does at the deadline. Of course, if Jake doesn't get straightened out, it really doesn't matter. A lot of Jake's comments this year, and his posing for nudie pics in the ESPN magazine, rang some alarm bells -- after one great year (and it was amazingly great), his head has swelled tremendously. Jake, look up the word "hubris", then look in the mirror.

    billybucks 3 hours 51 min ago view
  • ...and we're back from the 3rd rain delay.

    crunch 3 hours 52 min ago view
  • at least the cubs have a decent backup of...ummmm....well the minor league system has...uhhh...hmmm.

    maybe adam warren can manage to throw less than 100 pitches in 5 innings? no?

    well damn.

    crunch 3 hours 59 min ago view
  • Not to worry -- I'm sure Hammel will finish strong in the 2nd half of the season (~sad chuckle, reaches for Scotch bottle~).

    billybucks 4 hours 5 min ago view
  • Hammel has had a rather challenging last month. I am hoping post-break that Hendrix gets pushed ahead of him. They'll be lucky to win a game in NY

    The E-Man 4 hours 24 min ago view
  • hey, alright...cubs losing by 9 and a 3rd rain delay. awesome.

    crunch 4 hours 34 min ago view
  • If baseball does not work out for Patton, I think he's got a future in Civil War re-enactments. He's got a solid Johnny-Reb look to him.

    Eric S 4 hours 38 min ago view
  • David Ross - the mound awaits you.

    Eric S 4 hours 46 min ago view
  • RIP jason hammel's awesome ERA.

    10 ER in 4ip...almost a full point tacked on tonight, alone. 5HR given up tonight. oogly.

    crunch 4 hours 49 min ago view
  • Nimmo certainly does not want to see the Cubs leave town. His first MLB rbi last night and now his first HR.

    At least Hammel is eating some innings ... this is the kind of game Peralta should be used if at all.

    Eric S 4 hours 57 min ago view
  • OK, the hell with it.

    It's July 1 -- Hammel starting to suck right on schedule.

    Other than sweeping the Reds -- a bad team actively trying to lose -- this will make 8 losses in 9 games to good teams (Cards, Marlins, Mets). Not good at all.

    billybucks 5 hours 1 min ago view
  • Belicheat a consultant for the Red Sox?

    Eric S 5 hours 22 min ago view
  • And, so, Jason Hammel decides to test my new resolution right away. Sheesh.

    No Wright, no Duda, no Granderson -- no problem for NY. Ugh.

    billybucks 5 hours 28 min ago view