The Art of Fielding

imageThis book is not typical of the kind of novel I usually choose but I enjoyed it. It’s the story of the intertwined lives of six people at a fictional college in Wisconsin. What’s unusual is that all six people are given unique personalities and I found that I liked all of them, which doesn’t happen for me often, so kudos to the author for that. It doesn’t hurt that central to the story is the baseball teams’ quest for the college national championship, which they ultimately win, but the achievement is overshadowed by bigger things occurring at the same time. I thought the ending was a bit far-fetched, but I was willing to go along because I had enjoyed the book so much up to that point. This is a pleasantly easy book to read. The words just seem to flow along like a slow moving stream. I found myself looking forward to going to bed with it every night.

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So This Is What Capitulation Looks Like

The Royals were shut out for the fourth game in a row last night, losing 12-0 to Tampa Bay. They set a modern day record for consecutive scoreless innings at 43. Way to go fellas. 5f16b499807bec50d4a8cb39f7f0ed95-originalYour quest for the post season is now a dead, moldering carcass. I could explore the reasons for this embarrassing collapse but I don’t really care enough to spend the time. My off-the-cuff guess is the free agent’s in waiting have decided to phone it in for the rest of this season so they can spend more time daydreaming about the riches that await them at their next destination. So be it. You delivered for us in 2014 and 2015, and we thank you for that. As fans we will just have to live on those memories for a few years. Hopefully it’s not thirty years like last time, because I’m pretty sure I won’t live to be 94. To Cain, Hosmer and Moose: good luck wherever you end up. I hope you get your mega-contracts, and I hope they don’t mess with your heads like Alex Gordon’s deal has messed with his.

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One For The Books

imageI found this little gem at a Goodwill Store in Omaha for 65 cents. Joe Queenan has written an entire book about his love of books and reading and it is surprisingly interesting. It helps that he harks back to his younger days growing up under difficult circumstances in Philadelphia and also when he was a young man living on a shoestring in Paris. The sheer number of titles he mentions from his personal library is impressive, although at times he does come off sounding like a bit of a book snob, especially when he’s talking about those written French, which he can actually read. But this is generally balanced out when he shows that he also has a “regular guy” side and he might be fun to have a beer with, if he was still a drinker, which he’s not. Reading his little book about books was a pleasure and without doubt the best 65 cents I ever spent.

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That Sinking Feeling

The St. Louis Cardinals rained fire and fury on the Royals this week, sweeping a four game series. The Cardinals hit grand slams in the late innings of games 3 and 4, leaving the Royals relief corps in shock. Just 2-8 in their last 10 games, the Royals have fallen to third place in the division behind the surging Twins. Also down the toilet went their hold on the second Wild Card spot. The season is circling the drain. My confidence level for the playoffs right now is zero. This team does not have what it takes to compete against the top tier of either league, and the reason is pitching. The starters are average at best, and the bullpen, just two years removed from being the best in all of baseball, is a shambles. Nothing short of a miracle will salvage the season now.

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The Accidental life

IMG_0104On the surface a memoir by a magazine editor does not sound particularly intriguing but this editor is well known in the business and he has known, worked and partied with some interesting characters. Hunter Thompson, Jim Harrison, George Plimpton, Thomas McGaune to name a few. His essay on George Plimpton was one of the better ones and it was obvious the author had a great affection for the man. There were parts I skipped, like the essay on Women’s Magazines, but by and large it was an interesting memoir and worth the time.

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Steve Jobs

IMG_0103This is hands down the best biography I have read about anyone, ever. Steve Jobs was a genius, no plausible argument can be made to the contrary. His place in the history of American business innovation is equal to that of Edison and Ford. His drive, intensity and focus was something I can’t even begin to fathom. He was also arrogant, rude, verbally abusive and socially awkward. He was, and I think he would agree, an asshole. It would have been hell on earth to work for him. It took a special kind of person to understand that with his genius came his faults. It was a package deal. I read Mr. Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin and it was good but I thought there were a number of dull spots in it. That is not the case with Steve Jobs. The book is a pleasure to read. It deftly steers you through the highs and lows of Job’s life, and he had his share of both. It is also a fascinating look at Apple, the company, from its now legendary beginnings in Job’s parent’s garage to the colossus it is today. I was almost sorry when I turned the last page.

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