Category Archives: books

Mini Book Review: The Catch

Crossposted from Residual Prolixity:

The Catch was disappointing. I was hoping that it would go into more about how San Francisco overtook the Cowboys as an NFC power. The book does touch on that, but it could have gone into more depth.

Sure, they mentioned the West Coast Offense, but the author didn’t explain how the rule changes a few years earlier made it feasible. Or how those changes may have spelled the death of Dallas’s Flex Defense.

FWIW, two parts of Landry’s offense live on: the multiple formations and the shotgun. IIRC, no one else was really using those tools at the time. But I don’t think the writer touched on that at all. Xes and Os may scare some folks off, but I’d like to read about them; as long as there are accessible enough for me, a layman, to understand.


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Spearated at Birth

Jack Nicklaus and Joseph Hart

Warren Beatty and Richard Corriere

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Speaking of Mark S.

Mark touches on Bloom County. To me, the 80s were the golden age of comic strips with Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Far Side. I think I still have a collection or two of this strip lying around.

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What Mark Read

That’s one of the blogs in my Reader. I know Mark from The Factory. Our tastes don’t always match, but we both like James Ellroy. Mark’s a pretty voracious reader. Check his site out if you get a chance.

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What I’ve Been Reading

I have a tendency to start waaay more books than I finish. But I did manage to get through a few this fall. Here are some of them:

Against the machine : being human in the age of the electronic mob
/ Lee Siegel – This is about the dark side of Web 2.0. A little paranoid for my tastes, but I did get a lesson out of it. “Don’t sound more like everyone else than anyone else is able to sound like everyone else. Write meaningful and original thoughts and write them well.

Oddballs / Bruce Shlain – I was looking for Danny Peary’s book on cult baseball players, but it wasn’t in the stacks. I picked this up a substitute. It wasn’t memorable.

Perfect : Don Larsen’s miraculous World Series game and the men who made it happen / Lew Paper – I picked this up on Chuck Klosterman’s recommendation. I was expecting it to be more like Dan Okrent’s Nine Innings. The book was about baseball of the early ’80s viewed through the prism of a Brewers-Orioles game. Okrent would digress about such diverse topics such as the invention of the slider and look behind the scenes of the Brewer’s marketing department. Paper’s book was more structured. Essentially it was nineteen bios of the nineteen ballplayers who appeared in the boxscore interspersed with game action. But I learned just as much about midcentury baseball from this book as I learned about baseball of my youth from Okrent’s book. For instance, I probably read or heard this before, but Duke Snider wasn’t exactly known for hustling. I think that I sometimes overlook the more famous stories while I search for more obscure ones and it gets to the point where I think I know what I don’t know.

Big bang : the origin of the universe / Simon Singh – My buddy Zac was reading some physics this fall to keep up with his daughter who is taking it in high school. So I was trying to get into the subject. After fits and starts with other books, I happened to pick this one up. It’s about cosmology, but there’s some physics (and quite a bit of astronomy) involved. Singh is one of the more accessible science writers I have come across. I’ve also read his books on cryptography and Fermat’s theorem. Since college, one of my occasional interests is the history of ideas (we never had a history of economic thought course on our curriculum, but I read books on it on my own.) This book gives that to you; up until string theory. That’s a book for another day.

The book of basketball : the NBA according to the sports guy / Bill Simmons – No need for me to add my voice to the cacophony of those already out there.

Everything bad is good for you : how today’s popular culture is actually
making us smarter
/ Steven Johnson – Intriguing. I’m not sure if video games, reality shows, and long arc TV storylines are making us smarter. But they’re making us think differently.

For next time, I am thinking about writing something on a ballplayer or two who was famous during his day, but who is long forgotten.

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Early Meeting Tommorrow

Don’t expect any wisdom from me tommorrow morning when you settle in at work. I did check that Paper book out tonite.

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Chuck Klostermann Likes This Book

Perfect by Lew Paper. It didn’t strike me as his type of thing, but I liked Nine Innings and The Echoing Green. It sounds like a hybrid of these two books. Maybe I should check it out.

BTW, I heard “Love Shack” on the oldies station the other day. It’s not right! That song is only twenty years old.

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