BASEBALL INSIDE OUT: Games Within Games On and Off the Field by Bruce Shlain

BASEBALL INSIDE OUT: Games Within Games On and Off the Field

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More baseball trivia from the author of Oddballs (1989). Although ostensibly about baseball rules and how they are kept--""baseball etiquette,"" in other words--this is more a jumble of wonderful anecdotes than a coherent report. Some of Shlain's stories, such as those about games in which the season boils down to one crucial pitch (Donnie Moore pitching to Dave Henderson in the 1986 American League play-offs), have little to do with rules, spoken or otherwise, but nonetheless manage to amaze. We learn that Moore never recovered from Henderson's home run and killed himself several years later; Shlain adds that of 77 major-league suicides, one half have been by pitchers. The best material here deals with pitchers and their adversaries, covering subjects like bean balls and brush-back pitches; batter-pitcher cat-and-mouse games (Mike Hargrove fussed so much at the plate that he was known as the ""Human Rain Delay""); different batting stances; spitballs (Whitey Ford favored a combo of turpentine, baby oil, and resin), and so on. Chapters on the puppet-masters--the managers, GMs, and umpires--pale in comparison; it's hardly news to hear that unpredictability and platooning help win games, but here, too, Shlain serves up choice trivia--for instance, that Eddie Stanky, who managed a White Sox team that had speed but no power, deadened the baseballs before each game by sticking them in a freezer. Also included are lists of the worse managing mistakes of the last 10 years and of the worse trades of the last 30 (e.g., of Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi), and a chapter on ""New York pressures"" that looks in depth at Darryl Strawberry's erratic career. A big juicy fastball for devoted fans, who are usually in love with baseball statistics, trivia, and curious lore; for casual observers, perhaps too much of a curve.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Viking