10 baseball books to usher in the 2017 season

From Leo Durocher to analytics, here are excerpts from 10 books aimed at baseball fans.

9. ‘The Phenomenon,’ by Rick Ankiel and Tim Brown

As an up-and-coming pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system, Rick Ankiel led all minor-league hurlers in 1998 with 222 strikeouts. The next year, with the big-league club, he fanned 194 batters. But his mastery didn’t last. The following season, pitching in the playoffs, he threw five wild pitches – in a single inning! Ankiel’s battle with this mysterious mental block and his decision to remake his baseball career as an outfielder is told in “The Phenomenon,” an out-of-the-ordinary story of baseball courage and determination. Ankiel transitioned during seasons back in the minors to playing centerfield and eventually finished his 13 years in the majors as the first player since Babe Ruth to win at least 10 games as a pitcher and hit 50 home runs. He pretty much became a journeyman player during his second baseball life, playing for six teams in a five-year span.

Here’s an excerpt from The Phenomenon:

“I cared what people thought of me. Ballplayers didn’t walk away. They were shoved, forcibly removed from the premises at the end of a cattle prod, railing against the injustices of age and declining skills and the idiots who decided who was too old and unskilled. Real men stuck it out. Real ballplayers with nothing else to do were particularly obstinate. I could have kept pitching, stuck with the daily physical and psychological program that nudged me back toward the mound. In my heart, I believed I could pitch in the big leagues. I’d earned it. It was just so hard. It was just so burdensome. It was just time to stop, for those reasons. I was exhausted. So I was struck by the ease of the morning, the peacefulness that rode along with me and followed me toward my resignation and, out there somewhere, the rest of my life.”

9 of 10

Dear Reader,

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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.”

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