Changing of the guard and a list of must-read baseball books
They’re starting to finalize the roster that’ll represent Canada at the men’s Olympic qualifier and got some good news yesterday when point guard Cory Joseph was cleared to play.
(He should be able to go Saturday and Sunday against Belgium; one last shameless plug for them, get tickets through this link.)
Now, I don’t think the addition of a young point guard making his senior international debut should be construed as automatically making Canada a favourite to get one of two Olympic berths from the qualification tournament. I still say they really need to focus on being in the top five so that they at least get a last-chance shot next summer to get to the London Games.
But for years – and I truly mean close to a decade – there’s been a crying lack of depth at that key spot and Joseph should be settling in for a long run getting used to running the show.
That’s not to take away from Jermaine Anderson, who’s hit some big shots and made some big plays, but you need depth of talent to compete against the men they’ll be facing and having Joseph on board solves that problem quite nicely.
I’m sure there will be times when he finds it difficult and there will unquestionably be growing pains. This, however, is a big first step.
Let me get this straight:
There’s supposed to be some guy in the Rogers Centre stands with binoculars who figures out the catcher’s signals, relays them to The Guy In The White Shirt who then signals to a hitter 450 feet away what pitch is coming all in the time in takes a major league pitcher to get a sign and throw a ball.
And this was found out by four guys in the Chicago White Sox bullpen, who had to be looking sideways and up just to figure out what was going on?
What are they smoking out there while they wait to get called?
Really, that might be one of the more ridiculous scenarios I can imagine.
Now, if the Jays are somehow stealing signs by using runners on base or first- or third-base coaches, all the power to them. That’s what you’re supposed to do and it’s a tradition as old as the game itself.
If you’re not trying to steal signs – from catcher to pitcher or from manager to third base coach to batter – you’re not doing your job.
Heck, we figured out when a Dastardly Opponent of the Mighty Rockies was going to bunt and felt a great sense of accomplishment when we told the kids.
But from centre field? Two guys in cahoots eventually getting some signal to a hitter? As a wise man once said:
“This whole thing is stupid.”
Remember the other day when we were lamenting the lack of cool nicknames these days?
Well, I think we need to start calling that Lawrie kid Hobbs.
As in …
Sure, he doesn’t hit left and as far as I know they don’t let ‘em play when there’s lightning in the vicinity and I’m pretty sure the young fella’s never caused a power outage but what the heck.
Hobbs it is.
Middle of summer.
Nice day out.
Gonna be loud down at the yard.
IGBT will be going around 12:30 for you laggards who are dodging work.
It is impossible to come up with a list of the five best baseball books because the game simply lends itself to brilliant writing and storytelling and has for decades.
But I was asked in the mail for a list and, dammit, a list you shall get.
The qualifier: This is a list culled from books I’ve actually read over the years, not ones I’ve heard of, and my reading of baseball has fallen off over the years.
So I’m waiting to hear yours; these are mine, in no particular order:
Eight Men Out, Eliot Asinof
The 1919 Black Sox scandal wasn’t just about players and gamblers, the team’s ownership was complicit and this is an outstanding look at the sorry saga. Better than the movie.
Glory Of Their Times, Lawrence Ritter
An oral history of the game told through the voices of some of the true greats to ever play.
Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game, Jimmy Breslin
The 1962 Mets lost 120 games, they introduced us to Marvellous Marv Throneberry and were managed by Casey Stengel. Toss in Breslin’s style and it a great one.
Shoeless Joe, WP Kinsella
Sure, you know it better as the book that spawned Field of Dreams but the movie can’t hold a candle to the book. Really, it’s that good. Yes, I know, the Iowa Baseball Confederacy should be on this list probably but there’s a one-book-per-author limit.
Bang The Drum Slowly, Mark Harris
Baseball, friendship and a unique style. Helluva story, some make it the best baseball book ever done. Not sure about that but it’s good.
Speaking of mail …
You know the drill and you really have to work this week. If we’re going to do two on the weekend we are so far behind it’s not even funny.
I’ve got an afternoon in Niagara somewhere on Friday, and maybe a night tonight so get cracking.
How many are hoping for a Sunday afternoon PGA pairing of Tiger Woods and Adam Scott?
How good would that be?
Might be the only reason I’ll even sneak a look at the PGA this weekend it’s so far the fourth major it’s not even funny.
In fact, I’d suggest the Players or even the Memorial have supplanted it on the most-anticipated list of annual golf majors.
If you ask me, I’d rank the traditional four as:
Love the different courses and conditions.
Isn’t it nice to see then humbled a little bit.
I’m waiting for the year Jim Nance actually cries.
(Pause, long pause)
They still count it as a major, right?