George Will, Review

George Will: Baseball Fan, Man of Impeccable Literary Taste

George Will just called me. He’s planning a column about the book to run in the Washington Post on or near opening day. But here’s the thing: He didn’t call to ask about the book. He didn’t want to know anything about the writing or reporting or genesis or goals that isn’t already evident within its pages.

He just wanted to say that he liked it.

Scratch that. He just wanted to say that he loved it. His direct quote: “This is the greatest book in the history of books.” Seriously. He said that he couldn’t stop laughing as he was reading it.

It’s enough to tickle a first-time author pink.

My only regret is that he wasn’t contacted to write a cover blurb. Because, you know, “Greatest book in the history of books” would look pretty good over the title.

– Jason


The First Big, Sunday Book Review: The New York Post Approves

The first big one is in, and the New York Post seems to have enjoyed The Baseball Codes. That is, if recounting no fewer than 13 stories from the book indicates enjoyment.

From reviewer Larry Getlen:

As veteran sportswriters Turbow and Duca lay out in this remarkably well-researched book, filled with intricate details of plays from the past 100 years, the Code has affected careers, long-boiling team rivalries, World Series victories, and the game’s most hallowed feats in surprising ways.

We’re now batting 1.000 when it comes to positive reviews (hey, what do you know, a baseball metaphor!), but this is the first one to devote more than a single paragraph to the endeavor (an indicator that we must be getting close to the release date).

As of tomorrow, we’re nine days out. Welcome to March, everyone.

– Jason


The Baseball Codes: Resonating Well with the Artist/Poet/Cartoonist Demographic

Jim Behrle is an artist in Manhattan. And a baseball fan. And a lover of quality literature. How do we know this? Because he loved this book:

Exhaustive. This book is for the real fan who wants to know the unknowable: how players police themselves. The answer is simple: spikes-high and high and inside. The authors somehow got the chattiest of all former major leaguers to spill the beans. What transpires thereafter is a crime and punishment infringement by infringement. Players are by nature very sensitive. And there is no consensus agreement between them on when retribution is necessary or how unwritten rules should be enforced. But here’s a book that attempts to spell it out and illuminate the different philosophies behind when to retaliate. Strong Buy. A baseball dork’s delight. Nolan Ryan figures prominently. Good to pull of the shelf that summer night after your favorite player gets hit between the shoulder blades with a fastball. Very aptly shows how the game is changing—and depicts baseball as it was as an old school game of tit-for-tat. Truly enjoyable hot stove reading for this gentle correspondent. Loved the Rays-Sox scoop—great to finally get the story on all that nonsense.

Thank you, Mr. Behrle. Come back any time.

– Jason


Two for Two in Reviews

We’re still more than six weeks away from the release date, but the second review is out. Seems like people like the book.

This one is from Booklist, the reviewing arm of the American Library Association. The review itself won’t be out until Feb. 1, but we have the advance scoop for you right here:

Turbow and Duca have filled a void with this entertaining, revealing survey of the varied, sometimes inscrutable unwritten rules that govern the way baseball is played by the pros. The authors add a lot of flavoring here by naming names and instances, both long past and more recent. Great stuff on how and when to retaliate, how to slide, how to give way to a relief pitcher, talking (or not) during a no-hitter, whether to join an on-field brawl (no question, you join in), and the ethics of cheating (former Orioles manager Earl Weaver once told struggling pitcher Ross Grimsley during a game: “If you know how to cheat, this would be a good time to start”). The authors—both write on baseball for various publications, and Duca is an official scorekeeper for Major League Baseball—lament a certain unraveling of baseball’s codes, due to changes in the game itself, while insisting that they’re still essentially intact. For committed fans who want to dig deeper.

— Alan Moores

Alan Moores: clearly a man of discriminating tastes. Thanks, Booklist.

– Jason