Megdal writes with the easy fluency of a Jim Bouton, delivering a book that’s of value to students of business as well as...

READ REVIEW

THE CARDINALS WAY

HOW ONE TEAM EMBRACED TRADITION AND MONEYBALL AT THE SAME TIME

Revealing look inside the locker room and front office of a storied baseball franchise.

What is the “Cardinals Way?” On one hand, writes seasoned sportswriter Megdal (Wilpon's Folly: The Story of a Man, His Fortune, and the New York Mets, 2011, etc.), it’s “a product of a hundred years of serendipity,” the result of the confluence of the ideas of numerous baseball pioneers and the realities of the playing field. On the other hand, it’s the outcome of a not-always-easy fit between the insistence on old-fashioned, people-based fundamentals and a devotion to metrics and analytics. Megdal digs deep into the business of how a player is picked. We can expect to see one, a young pitcher named Daniel Poncedeleon, in the 2016 season, and a fine choice he will be, capable of hurling hellacious heat and uttering menacing utterances like, “I like someone in there that wants to hit the ball so I can strike ’em out,” while also revealing himself to be a pretty nice guy. Having picked a player, the Cardinals coaches now have to groom and train, and therein lies a heavy program of enculturation. After grooming and training, they have to retain their best players, which means paying money, something skinflint owners don’t like to do but that does keep a player happy and loyal. Money pervades the game, always figuring in the calculus of who is signed and who is cut and, in the case of the Cardinals, involving “analytic firepower to confidently run an estimate for a player going forward.” By that calculus, writes the author, Poncedeleon carries an on-paper value of $1.75 million, cinched for a $5,000 signing bonus—not a bad deal at all and speaking to the shrewdness of the staff and the hunger of a kid eager to show his stuff on the field.

Megdal writes with the easy fluency of a Jim Bouton, delivering a book that’s of value to students of business as well as baseball fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-05831-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more