Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Read a book – learn something

Jonathan Knight has a good post up at The Cleveland Fan on his 25 Most Fun Non-Cleveland Sports Books, which is as good a reason as any to remind everyone to read a book once in a while.

Don’t worry Steeler fans, you can find someone to read a book to you.

If you need some book recommendations, we have those for you:

Since we wrote those recommendations, we’ve had some updates*:

  • Bloody Confused! A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer by Chuck Culpepper: After covering the American sports scene for 15 years, Chuck Culpepper suffered from a profound case of Common Sportswriter Malaise. He was fed up with self-righteous proclamations, steroid scandals and the deluge of in-your-face PR that saturated the NFL, the NBA and MLB. Then in 2006, he moved to London and discovered a new and baffling world – the renowned Premiership soccer league. Culpepper pledged his loyalty to Portsmouth, a gutsy, small-market team at the bottom of the standings. As he puts it, “It was like childhood, with beer.”
  • God Save the Fan by Will Leitch: Arch and unrepentant, Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin.com, is the mouthpiece for all the frustrated fans who just want their games back from big money, bloated egos, and blathering sportscasters. Always a fan first and a sportswriter second, Leitch considers the perfection of fantasy leagues and the meaninglessness of the steroids debate as he exposes Olympic fetishes, parses Shaq’s rap attack on Kobe, shares a brew with John Rocker and his surprising girlfriend, and reveals what ESPN and the beer companies really think about you. If you or a fan you love is suffering from a sense of listless dissatisfaction brought on by the leagues and networks, God Save the Fan is your new manifesto.
  • The Damned United by David Peace: Overachieving and eccentric football manager Brian Clough was on his way to take over at the country’s most successful, and most reviled, football club: Leeds United, home to a generation of fiercely competitive but ageing players. The battle he’d face there would make or break the club – or him. David Peace’s extraordinarily inventive novel tells the story of a world characterised by fear of failure and hunger for success set in the bleak heart of the 1970s.
  • Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss: Maraniss draws compelling portraits of the athletes competing in Rome, including some of the most honored in Olympic history: decathlete Rafer Johnson, sprinter Wilma Rudolph, Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, and Louisville boxer Cassius Clay, who at eighteen seized the world stage for the first time, four years before he became Muhammad Ali.Along with these unforgettable characters and dramatic contests, there was a deeper meaning to those late-summer days at the dawn of the sixties. Change was apparent everywhere. The world as we know it was coming into view.
  • ESPN: Those Guys Have all the Fun by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales: It began, in 1979, as a mad idea of starting a cable channel to televise local sporting events throughout the state of Connecticut. Today, ESPN is arguably the most successful network in modern television history, spanning eight channels in the Unites States and around the world. But the inside story of its rise has never been fully told-until now. Drawing upon over 500 interviews with the greatest names in ESPN’s history and an All-Star collection of some of the world’s finest athletes, bestselling authors James Miller and Tom Shales take us behind the cameras. Now, in their own words, the men and women who made ESPN great reveal the secrets behind its success-as well as the many scandals, rivalries, off-screen battles and triumphs that have accompanied that ascent. From the unknown producers and business visionaries to the most famous faces on television, it’s all here.
  • Namath: A Biography by Mark Kriegel: In between Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan there was Joe Namath, one of the few sports heroes to transcend the game he played. Novelist and former sports-columnist Mark Kriegel’s bestselling biography of the iconic quarterback details his journey from steel-town pool halls to the upper reaches of American celebrity—and beyond. The first of his kind, Namath enabled a nation to see sports as show biz. For an entire generation he became a spectacle of booze and broads, a guy who made bachelorhood seem an almost sacred calling, but it was his audacious “guarantee” of victory in Super Bowl III that ensured his legend. This unforgettable portrait brings readers from the gridiron to the go-go nightclubs as Kriegel uncovers the truth behind Broadway Joe and why his legend has meant so much to so many.
  • Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel: Pistol is more than the biography of a ballplayer. It’s the stuff of classic novels: the story of a boy transformed by his father’s dream — and the cost of that dream. Even as Pete Maravich became Pistol Pete — a basketball icon for baby boomers — all the Maraviches paid a price. Now acclaimed author Mark Kriegel has brilliantly captured the saga of an American family: its rise, its apparent ruin, and, finally, its redemption. Almost four decades have passed since Maravich entered the national consciousness as basketball’s boy wizard. No one had ever played the game like the kid with the floppy socks and shaggy hair. And all these years later, no one else ever has. The idea of Pistol Pete continues to resonate with young people today just as powerfully as it did with their fathers. In averaging 44.2 points a game at Louisiana State University, he established records that will never be broken. But even more enduring than the numbers was the sense of ecstasy and artistry with which he played. With the ball in his hands, Maravich had a singular power to inspire awe, inflict embarrassment, or even tell a joke.
  • Howard Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports by Mark Ribowsky: Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. No mere jock turned “pretty-boy” broadcaster, the Brooklyn-born Cosell began as a lawyer before becoming a radio commentator. “Telling it like it is,” he covered nearly every major sports story for three decades, from the travails of Muhammad Ali to the tragedy at Munich. Featuring a sprawling cast of athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Sonny Liston, Don Meredith, and Joe Namath, Howard Cosell also re-creates the behind-the-scenes story of that American institution, Monday Night Football. With more than forty interviews, Mark Ribowsky presents Cosell’s life as part of an American panorama, examining racism, anti-Semitism, and alcoholism, among other sensitive themes. Cosell’s endless complexities are brilliantly explored in this haunting work that reveals as much about the explosive commercialization of sports as it does about a much-neglected media giant. 35 black-and-white illustrations

If you do decide to check one of these out, you won’t be disappointed. And remember to shop at your local bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area and are in the Hudson area, it’s worth a stop at The Learned Owl.

*Summaries are all taken from Amazon.com, except where noted.

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