Take me out to the ball game
Well it's World Series time, so that means time for some baseball books. While I don't watch a lot of baseball, I really enjoy the incredible amount of strategy that goes into each pitch: where to place your fielders, where to place your pitch, and how all that changes when you have runners on base, etc., etc. Add to that all of the unwritten rules of baseball – like when do you bean a guy, and conversely, when does one charge the mound? Then add to that all of the different ways you can cheat, and not just by taking steroids and throwing spitballs. The grounds crew can get involved as well- how the pitcher's mound is set up, how well the foul lines are maintained - these tiny things can be manipulated and have an impact as well. If you are of a mind to read up on these themes than I would recommend: The Code : Baseball's Unwritten Rules and its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein and The Cheater's Guide to Baseball by Derek Zumsteg. Looking for a good general guide to baseball strategy? Check out my earlier posting here.
And if you are in the mood for a good baseball novel, then I would highly recommend Battle creek by Scott Lasser. Battle Creek is the story of a minor league baseball team in Michigan, one that is perennially a runner up in the league championships. Each of the characters in the book has to wrestle with just what ethical lines they will cross to bring home that elusive championship. Battle Creek is also the story of men, their relationships with their fathers, their relationships with women, and their relationships with their teammates.
When reading Battle Creek, you can tell that Mr. Lasser is also a baseball fan. Many of the intricacies that I mentioned earlier inform this book. That being said, I don't think it's necessary to be that level of a fan to appreciate the book. A bittersweet book, it’s well worth the read.