Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Book Thingamabob

I've been tagged! And working under the delusional assumption that anyone gives a hairless rat's rump about what I have to say, here it goes: It's the book meme!

1. How many books I own:
I dunno. Too many. I have three bookshelves that are all sagging under the weight -- and that's not counting the ones that are boxed up in my parent's attic. If I had to guess, I'd say I have 50 or so that are just on baseball.

2. Most recent purchase:
I always troll the remainder piles at bookstores. It drives my gf crazy, because I'll always walk out with something. But I've tried to scale back my purchases because there's an ever-growing pile of unread books.

  • Beyond the Shadow of the Senators -- a history of Negro League baseball in DC.

  • The Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty -- Buster Olney's account of the final game of the 2001 World Series and how that game signified the end of the Yankees as we knew them. It's amazingly prophetic. Buster gets a lot of deserved crap from statheads because of his idiotic pushing of 'Productive Outs', but he's a solid writer, and was one of the better beat writers out there when working for the Baltimore Sun and the NY Times.

  • The Maltese Falcon -- Everyone I've talked to has told me to read it. I finally bought it. Now I'll just need to make the time to get through it.

    3. Currently Reading:
  • Damn Senators, Mark Gauvreau Judge -- It's the story of the author's grandfather, the underrated Joe Judge and the Washington Senators' lone World Series Championship in 1933. (I'll get it back to you soon, Ryan!)

  • Tyrannosaurus Sue, Steve Fiffer -- A dry, but fascinating story about the legal battle over Sue, the Tyrannosaurus currently housed in Chicago's Field Museum. It's a legal nightmare full of loopholes, strong personalities, politics and greed; it's the classic American story!

  • The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe -- I love Tom Wolfe's writing. I've been making my way through his older stuff book by book.

    4A Five books that mean the most:
  • Pick a Bill James book. Three that stick out: Historical Abstract, Whatever Happened To The Hall of Fame?, 1983 (?) Baseball Abstract (the yellow one).

    If you haven't read any BJ, do it now. The Historical Abstract is floating around the remainder piles at many bookstores now. But you should try and find some of the yearly abstracts from the '80s. (Ebay's a good place to look)

    Bill James is great for two reasons.

    1) He writes clearly and concisely, walking you through the creation of a statistic and describing the assumptions he makes in a manner that make you understand why he's doing what he's doing and why it will work. As a result, the numbers he use make sense for someone who isn't perfectly comfortable with calculations.

    2) He doesn't speak soley in numbers. They're simply a tool with him for describing things. If you read a lot of his player evaluations (beside a heavy emphasis on the history of the game, which I especially love), he frequently describes talent in qualitative terms, not quantitive. And that's the opposite of what most people would suspect given his reputation.

  • Sweet Peas and a White Bridge. I'm sure none of you have heard of this, but it's a collection of stories and tales from old-timers who worked on Lake George as guides, steamboat drivers, lumberjacks, etc. It definitely has some sentimental value for me.

  • The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene. It's been a few years since I've read this. I've been meaning to pick it up again lately. I'd be interested to see how my own changing faith would alter my impression of this novel, which tracks the Whiskey Priest as he flees authorities who are trying to arrest him in Mexico. (And certainly that description doesn't do it any justice!)

    4B Worst Book
  • Does Men At Work count? That's pretty high up there. How about Summer of '98 by Mike Lupica. It's one of those straight-to-the-presses mundane accounts of the supposedly magical 1998 season. Given what we now know (or suspect) about McGwire and Sosa, the sheen has been taken off much of it.

    5 Who's Next?
    There are Nats-bloggers out my wazoo. Someone here is bored enough to pick up the mantle (read: Nationals Inquirer). I'm certainly not going to conscript anyone. Lemme know in comments, and I'll link to you.

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