6 baseball books ripe for midseason reading

Here are excerpts from six intriguing new baseball books.

2. ‘Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers,’ by Michael Fallon

To take the pulse of a city and penetrate its culture, a good place to start is with its pro sports teams. This can be especially true in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers are a southern California icon. In “Dodgerland,” author Michael Fallon uses the club to write both a sports and social history, chronicling America as the nation moved into the “me” era. During the two years Fallon places LA under the microscope, the Dodgers of Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, and Steve Yeager reached the World Series but lost both in 1977 and 1978 to the Yankees. Against this backdrop, Fallon tells a larger story through the lives of four men named Tom: Dodger manager Tom Lasorda, mayor Tom Bradley, writer and social critic Tom Wolfe, and a local hardware store owner, Tom Fallon, a longtime Dodger fan.

Here’s an excerpt from Dodgerland:

“The dog days of late July and early August can be a difficult stretch for baseball teams. After more than one hundred ball games, afflictions of all sorts – aches, nagging strains, general exhaustion, and frustration – are common, even as the deepest and steamiest heat of middle-American midsummer settles over the land. What’s more, as August progresses, and moods and bodies break down, players can see more and more, off in the distance just over the horizon, the promise of the looming off-season – a time when players get to join their families, take vacations, go on long hunting and fishing trips, and so on. It’s no wonder that July and August are very often the make-it-or-break-it point for so many borderline teams. As of late July in 1978, while the Dodgers felt the deep malaise of summer, it was clear that the season could go in any direction for [manager] Tom Lasorda’s boys.”

2 of 6

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.