Review by Budd Bailey
The last couple of baseball books that I read were interesting and well done, but they were a little on the dense site. I'm not saying it was a chore to go through them, but it did take a little time and concentration to digest.
The antidote to that is a book is something that is a pleasure to race through. I suppose for some, a novel designed to be read on the beach works in that sense. As for me, I'll take a book by Joe Posnanski.
Joe is back with another feel-good crowd-pleaser, "Why We Love Baseball." It's sweet, fun and hard to resist.
This could be called a follow-up to last year's "The Baseball 100." There Posnanski picked his top 100 players in the sport's history, and he made the smart decision not to get bogged down over whether No. 37 was better than No. 36. Instead, he just told stories about baseball and its participants. A lot of trees died in the process of publication of a rather massive volume, but it ranked as the most entertaining book of 2022.
This has something of the same formula. Posnanski has come up with a list of 50 of the best moments in baseball history. It should be mentioned that this isn't just major league baseball. There are some good stories from the minors, amateur, and Japanese ball, for example. Joe once again did his homework, and takes us down some unexpected trails about the events we thought we knew quite well. In other words, almost every "moment" has a fact or detail that will be unknown to the most devoted of fans. That level of research really makes the book work.
But there are more than 50 such moments in the book. Posnanski takes timeout from the countdown to go on some interesting tangents, five at a time. Unlikely homers. Trick plays. Meltdowns. Loud home runs. Barehanded plays. Pitching oddities. Heartstrings. Blunders. Duels. Catches. The final total is 108, which is an interesting number in baseball. It's the number of stitches in a standard baseball for starters. It also marks the number of years in the Cubs' period between World Series wins, and the number of wins compiled by Joe's candidate as the best team ever, the 1975 Reds. (He wrote a book about that team.) I'd be quick to add that the Boston Red Sox won 108 games in 2018. It's shorter than "The Baseball 100," so some forests can breathe a sigh of relief.
Baseball fans probably can come up with the top 20 moments given a little time, and they certainly deserve to be there. But one of the sport's charms is that something can happen out of the blue that's totally wonderful. For example, the Buffalo Bisons played a game against the Worcester Red Sox in the summer that was completely routine for eight innings. Then, in the bottom of the 10th, Luis De Los Santos hit a 3-2 pitch with two out that resulted in a opposite-field, pinch-hit, walkoff, grand slam homer to give the Bisons the victory. Has there every been a moment in a baseball game that checked off more boxes for drama?
"Why We Love Baseball" helps to explain the hold that the game has on many people. They're the target audience for the book, and they'll be delighted to read it.
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