Two former Harvard Lampoon writers attempt a road trip of epic logistical proportions: 30 baseball games in 30 stadiums in 30 days.
The road-trip memoir has become so tired that there’s almost no premise good enough to resurrect it from endless cliché, and a frenetic race to an arbitrary goal didn’t seem promising. But that wasn’t accounting for two things: Moneyball-worthy mathematical algorithms and the sharp, hilarious prose that has made Lampoon alums famous for generations. Slate writer Blatt is passionate about two things: math and baseball. His travel companion, Brewster, is passionate about neither. But when Blatt wrote a computer program that plotted out the trip—an entire game every day, hitting every stadium, using only a car—Brewster reluctantly agreed to join his friend. The math assured the pair that the trip was possible, albeit illogical (requiring several dizzying loops of the country) and stupid (the average leg between games was a 12-hour drive). But math also didn’t account for things like weather, traffic and human error, turning what should have been a month of leisurely summer fun into a suspenseful series of high-speed hauls through the night. Blatt and Brewster pepper their adventure with statistics—there was, they cheerfully point out in response to parental concerns, only a 0.5 percent chance that they would die in a vehicular accident—and anecdotes. At one point, they even constructed an OK Cupid profile for the romantically challenged Blatt and set him up with a date to a St. Louis Cardinals game. Our intrepid narrators are charmingly self-deprecating and keenly aware of the pointlessness of their journey, and yet they still imbue it with some meaningful thoughts about friendship, community, and the beauty and total absurdity of obsessive fandom.
Nate Silver numbers and James Thurber wit turn what should be a harebrained adventure into a pretty damn endearing one.