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Archive for the category “summer”

Reading is Fundamental – Baseball Edition

With the end of the All-Star break, the Tribe is ready to embark on the second-half of what could feel like a never-ending season. With that in mind, it’s time for some more book recommendations.

There are plenty of great (or very good) sports books out there for Cleveland fans, specifically, and sports fans in general. These baseball books are worth checking out; most should be familiar to Cleveland fans, some may not be. Some may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time*:

  • Endless Summers: The Fall and Rise of the Cleveland Indians by Jack Torry. This book “takes the reader into the executive suites, lakeshore apartments and political backrooms where the men with money and clout made the decisions that transformed the Indians from World Series contenders in 1954 to pathetic losers for four decades.”
  • Our Tribe by Terry Pluto. “By reliving the stories of Lou Sockalexis, Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Rocky Colavito, Bill Veeck, Lou Boudreau, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and countless others, Terry Pluto relives the stories of his childhood and of his father’s childhood when the Indians were the only thing that mattered.”
  • The Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a Thirty-Year Slump by Terry Pluto. “With the sharp-edged wit and keen eye for detail that have made him Cleveland’s favorite sportswriter, Terry Pluto looks at the strange goings-on of the thirty-plus years following the Indians trade of Rocky Colavito. Pluto draws insightful portraits of the men who’ve made the Indians what they were, for better or worse.”
  • Now I Can Die in Peace by Bill Simmons. OK, I know, it’s about the Red Sox but stick with me here. In his columns, with additional footnotes, Simmons captures the joy of finally seeing his favorite baseball team win a World Series. It’s an easy read and a primer for Cleveland fans on what it will be like when one of our teams finally wins.
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton. Tame by today’s standards, but this book, one of the first baseball books I ever read, helped “shatter the myth of baseball players as heroes when it was published in 1970. Besides changing the public image of athletes, this book played a role in the economic revolution in professional sports. In 1975, it was accepted as legal evidence against the owners at the arbitration hearing which led to free agency in baseball. It also stands as a time capsule of life in the ’60s.”
  • Dealing: The Cleveland Indians’ New Ballgame by Terry Pluto. “Go behind closed doors in the Cleveland Indians front office as Pluto analyzes the team’s controversial moves to scrap a roster of popular stars and rebuild a new kind of contender following the 2000 season. Faced with an aging team, a mounting payroll and a shrinking budget, owners Larry and Paul Dolan and general manager Mark Shapiro worked to rebuild the team, closing out the 2005 season just one game shy of a playoff birth.” That was only five years ago; it feels like 50.
  • Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss. “The Roberto Clemente that Maraniss evokes was an idiosyncratic character who, unlike so many modern athletes, insisted that his responsibilities extended beyond the baseball field. In his final years, his motto was that if you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth.” This is an example of the new wave of sports biographies that take an honest look at athletes; not hatchet jobs, but just stories that show the true person, in both their triumphs and failures.

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 the individual book jackets.

Reading is Fundamental – Basketball Edition

With summer just around the corner, we’re all looking for a good book to read, be it on the beach, at the pool or on the back deck.

There are plenty of great (or very good) sports books out there for Cleveland fans, specifically, and sports fans in general. Here are some basketball books worth checking out; most should be familiar to Cleveland fans, some may not be. Some may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time:

  • Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, by Terry Pluto. Simply one of the best books I’ve ever read. For anyone (like me) not old enough to remember the ABA, the stories from the players and coaches who built the league are unforgettable.
  • Tall Tales: The Glory Years of the NBA, by Terry Pluto. A companion piece to Loose Balls, Tall Tales tells the story of the NBA, from its birth up to the early 1970s. The stories are not quite as entertaining as those in Loose Balls, but they are just as important in learning about the growth of the game.
  • Foul: The Connie Hawkins Story, by David Wolf. I first read this when I was in high school and I had no idea who Hawkins was. His story of rising out of poverty in New York City and the scandal that wrongly led to the NBA blackballing him during his best years is gripping.
  • The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons. While its a bit long at 736 pages and overly biased toward Boston players, go figure, this is an excellent book for fans of the game. And the way the book is organized its easy to pick it up, read a bit, and put it back down for later without losing anything.
  • Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business and the Makign of an NBA Superstar, by Brook Larmer. The story behind the Chinese government’s plan to create the next NBA superstar.Everything about Ming, from birth to first endorsement deal, was planned by a confluence of government and business interests intent on creating a superstar.
  • The Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk and the American Dream, by Mitch Albom. The remarkable story of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, and their successes and failures in the NCAA tournaments of 1992 and 1993. Has it really been almost 20 years since they came on the scene? Good lord, I feel old.
  • Forty-Eight Minutes: A Night in the Life of the NBA, by Terry Pluto and Bob Ryan. Forty-Eight minutes is the story of the Jan. 16, 1987, game between the Cavs and Celtics, told in minute-by-minute detail with insights from the players and coaches involved in the game.
  • The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, by Sam Smith. A behind-the-scenes look at the 1991 Chicago Bulls.
  • Cavs: From Fitch to Fratello, by Joe Menzer and Burt Graeff. Published on the team’s 25th anniversary, this book chronicles the Cavs from their early days at the Cleveland Arena, the glory years of the Coliseum era and the move back downtown.

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.

I’ll follow up over the next few days with recommendations on football, baseball, soccer and sports in general.

Enjoy!

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