music friday: mott
what i watched last week

band of misfits

When I was a kid, I loved to read sports books, mostly about baseball. There were three basic models. One was a biography directed towards a young audience (“And the lesson Mickey learned from his father when he was six helped make him the man he would become”). A second was more interested in general history, with lots of anecdotes … Joe Garagiola’s Baseball Is a Funny Game was like that. Finally, there were books that came out in the spring of each season, telling the story of the champions of the previous year.

The only real break from these traditions, prior to Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, came from Jim Brosnan, who wrote two books about life in the big leagues, The Long Season and Pennant Race, while working as a pitcher in the National League.

I don’t read many of those books these days. There is so much to read during a season, thanks to the great volume of material available online. And Bill James started a revolution not only in baseball analysis but in baseball writing when he started publishing his annual Abstracts. I even did a little writing myself, working a few years for fantasy guru John Benson and a few more with the Baseball Prospectus folks.

It makes sense, though, that I would return to the old-school books in this spring of 2011, because it’s the first time I had a Giants’ championship to relive. And so I just finished Andrew Baggarly’s A Band of Misfits. Baggarly is a Giants beat writer for the Mercury-News, so he knew the story of the 2010 Giants very well. He’s also a stylish writer, and he does a fine job of bringing together the various elements that led to the World Series. He blends stories about the individuals (the “band of misfits” … Baggarly is quite convincing in demonstrating the aptness of that cliché) with the narrative of the 2010 season, finding just the right moment to offer character studies while keeping the story moving. The result is the kind of book where you keep telling yourself “just one more chapter,” only to find that you’ve finished the book in record time.

And … I really can’t believe this is true, and at least I’ve gotten to the point where I control myself for the most part when I’m around others … but the one reason I couldn’t just blast through the book was because I kept having to stop and compose myself as the tears flowed once again. It’s been six months, and I still get choked up, still can’t believe it’s real. I opened up for a bit the other night and told my wife how confusing this all was, and she replied matter-of-factly that when you wait 52 years for something, it’s going to have a lasting impact.

So, I guess I’ll thank Baggarly for writing an enjoyable recap of that great season. But I’m going to have to do something about these darned allergies … my eyes water up every time I open his book.

Comments

Chris

Like!!!

Patrick Ellis

I've had this book sitting around the house for about a month now. I bought it for my son Will's birthday (born the day before Clark's first at bat and named as Clark rounded third), but he told me not to give him any gifts this year because he wanted money for a class.

I was still going to go ahead and give it to him, but forgot it when we met in San Jose to celebrate his birthday, a week late, by getting together to see Zack Wheeler pitch. So it's been sitting on my nightstand in that stack of books I never seem to get to, and while I've thought of going ahead and reading it myself I've hesitated because 1) it's a gift not yet given, and 2) I was afraid it might seem a cardboard version of last season, even though I'm familiar with and like Baggerly's writing, which was why in fact I took the chance of buying it.

I think mostly I'm just kind of superstitious that any attempt to relive last year might take the bloom off it--might reveal it as not really as magical as it was. Or maybe I'm just afraid of those damned allergies.

Steven Rubio

He does well with the magical angle, and causes plenty of allergic reactions. I wouldn't say it's Pulitzer Prize material, but it's very much what Giants fans would want as a souvenir.

Richard Booroojian

All winter, whenever I saw a wall in a store with Giants championship memorabilia, I would stop and have to compose myself. Even merchandising had this effect on me. At least I don't get emotional when I put on my world champions hat any more, but I did for about a month after I bought it.

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