A daddy blog.

07 April 2007

Thoroughly Pickled

This has been rolling around my mind ever since last week's New York Times Book Review hit my stoop. A week ago author Jim Bouton made clear that he doesn't think much of 'The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball:'

I can just imagine the marketing meeting for this book:

“Why do we need another baseball book?”

“No matter how bad they are, we always recoup our costs.”

“What’s the title?”

“We’ve got two good words so far: ‘baseball’ and ‘cheating.’ ”

“Hmm. It needs an angle.”

“How-to books always sell.”

“That’s it! A book about how to cheat.”

“ ‘The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball.’ Three good words!”

Thus we have the baseball equivalent of “How to Build an Atomic Bomb.” Or, more precisely, “How to Build an Entire Munitions Dump” — “dump” being a good word to describe the book’s bulletin-board style.

Emphasis mine. I won't likely read this book (I have a stack waiting in line), but I do know the Book Review. Half a thousand books vie for the two dozen spots in each week's edition, and only a dozen of those get a clever illustration like the above.

Point being, "Thus," my ass. Bouton's theoretical Houghton Mifflin marketing executives aren't the only ones intrigued by this book by Derek Zumsteg, one of writers of the much beloved USS Mariner blog.

If you're reviewing a book in the freaking Times, please don't waste time wondering why the book is even worth talking about. You can just direct those questions to the Book Review's editors.

And as "for the bulletin board style" that Bouton seems to dislike: That sounds like a how a blog would look if you looked right down the bridge of your nose at one. So that characterization seemed kind of pointlessly vague.

Now here is the part where my thoughts may have marinated too long:

The cover article in this month's Harpers--which is not online because Harper's's new site is pointless--tells 'How Shakespeare Took Over the World.' Shakes apparently did this even though he wasn't considered head and shoulders above his contemporaries. So why is he worshipped today? Lots of explanations are given, but my two favorites are:
  1. While everyone else was becoming more entranced by snooty French classicists, Shakespeare was having fun inventing words like 'puke.'
  2. He influenced Milton and almost every English writer after him.
Now, blogging is often less like iambic pentameter than it is like a game of Ball-Buster. But it certainly is a place to looks for brand new vulgarisms.

And blogs are also often more influential than sportswriters often like to admit. And since Zumsteg does write for such a well-regarded blog, it would be nice if Bouton were a wee bit less dismissive of his book's "billboard style. "

The Times should just find someone who actually enjoys blogs, and let them review a book like this.