A terrific resource for March Madness fun.

A METHOD TO THE MADNESS: 2013

A GUIDE TO MARCH MADNESS BASKETBALL

A joyous outpouring of numbers aimed to soothe the jangled nerves of those caught up in the great, late-winter college basketball tournament.

Sams has marshaled a dizzying array of statistics in a variety of original concatenations to help navigate March Madness—the annual college basketball championship series. The “madness” is a result of the sheer number of teams at play that are slowly winnowed down throughout the month. Sams wants to make some sense of the process, perhaps glean a theme or pattern; if nothing else, he will have tidy histories of team performance that may reveal tendencies. This book is a very straightforward item, mostly bare of narrative (all of which is contained in its brief, explicatory introduction). Its purpose is to present team statistics since 1985 (the first year with a field of 64 teams), which he has arranged alphabetically. For each winning team of the 64 invited to the tournament, Sams provides scads of information, including records for each round of play, team success (or failure) depending on how highly they were ranked going into the tournament and how well teams did against opponents from different regions throughout the country. Even readers without a jones for statistical analysis can get caught up in the almost hallucinatory experience of trying to make something of all the figures. And thanks to the bare-bones presentation, each team—from the Air Force Academy to Xavier, from big guns to derringers—exerts its own fascination. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and the like have pages of material, while Long Island, Long Beach and Liberty pass quietly under the radar.

A terrific resource for March Madness fun.

Pub Date: July 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478129769

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

UNGUARDED

The Chicago Bulls stalwart tells all—and then some.

Hall of Famer Pippen opens with a long complaint: Yes, he’s a legend, but he got short shrift in the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, The Last Dance. Given that Jordan emerges as someone not quite friend enough to qualify as a frenemy, even though teammates for many years, the maltreatment is understandable. This book, Pippen allows, is his retort to a man who “was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.” Coming from a hardscrabble little town in Arkansas and playing for a small college, Pippen enjoyed an unlikely rise to NBA stardom. He played alongside and against some of the greats, of whom he writes appreciatively (even Jordan). Readers will gain insight into the lives of characters such as Dennis Rodman, who “possessed an unbelievable basketball IQ,” and into the behind-the-scenes work that led to the Bulls dynasty, which ended only because, Pippen charges, the team’s management was so inept. Looking back on his early years, Pippen advocates paying college athletes. “Don’t give me any of that holier-than-thou student-athlete nonsense,” he writes. “These young men—and women—are athletes first, not students, and make up the labor that generates fortunes for their schools. They are, for lack of a better term, slaves.” The author also writes evenhandedly of the world outside basketball: “No matter how many championships I have won, and millions I have earned, I never forget the color of my skin and that some people in this world hate me just because of that.” Overall, the memoir is closely observed and uncommonly modest, given Pippen’s many successes, and it moves as swiftly as a playoff game.

Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982165-19-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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