An entertaining, thoughtful examination that will appeal not only to soccer fans but to anyone interested in the business of...

Sounders FC: AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE BEST FRANCHISE LAUNCH IN AMERICAN SPORTS HISTORY

A behind-the-scenes look at the successful launch of a Major League Soccer franchise.

After being founded in 2007 and playing their first game in 2009, the Seattle Sounders have been a model franchise not only for MLS but for sports in general, setting league attendance records and building a uniquely devoted fan base while avoiding the growing pains faced by other expansion teams. As the author writes, before the team was put together, Seattle had just experienced the loss of the NBA’s Supersonics, and “the thought that Seattle, of all places, could be the home of the most successful sports franchise launch in American history was beyond rational belief.” But the Sounders blossomed through the visionary efforts of three men in particular—movie executive Joe Roth, CEO Tod Leiweke and general manager Adrian Hanauer—who recognized the importance of forging a unique relationship between the team and the community. So tight is that bond that after the Sounders once lost badly at home, the team offered ticket refunds to every fan who attended the game. Management also bowed to the fans’ wishes by agreeing not to have Budweiser sponsor the traditional pregame march to the stadium. “In almost every way they forged interactions with their fans that were different from anything that had been seen in American professional sports,” Gastineau says. The author effectively captures the key signings of veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller and Colombian forward Fredy Montero, who was so young at the time that his first question to management was, “If I go to the U.S., can I get medicine for my acne?” He also details the out-of-the-box contributions of comedian and co-owner Drew Carey, who, among other things, suggested fans vote on whether to keep the general manager in office. “It’s great because the fans are invested in the team no matter what happens good or bad,” Carey explains. The Sounders have yet to win an MLS Cup, but Gastineau has scored with this vivid history.

An entertaining, thoughtful examination that will appeal not only to soccer fans but to anyone interested in the business of sports.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491068342

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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

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In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.

DUMB LUCK AND THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

The latest collection of interrelated essays by the veteran fishing writer.

As in his previous books—from The View From Rat Lake through All Fishermen Are Liars—Gierach hones in on the ups and downs of fishing, and those looking for how-to tips will find plenty here on rods, flies, guides, streams, and pretty much everything else that informs the fishing life. It is the everything else that has earned Gierach the following of fellow writers and legions of readers who may not even fish but are drawn to his musings on community, culture, the natural world, and the seasons of life. In one representatively poetic passage, he writes, “it was a chilly fall afternoon with the leaves changing, the current whispering, and a pale moon in a daytime sky. The river seemed inscrutable, but alive with possibility.” Gierach writes about both patience and process, and he describes the long spells between catches as the fisherman’s equivalent of writer’s block. Even when catching fish is the point, it almost seems beside the point (anglers will understand that sentiment): At the end of one essay, he writes, “I was cold, bored, hungry, and fishless, but there was still nowhere else I’d have rather been—something anyone who fishes will understand.” Most readers will be profoundly moved by the meditation on mortality within the blandly titled “Up in Michigan,” a character study of a man dying of cancer. Though the author had known and been fishing with him for three decades, his reticence kept anyone from knowing him too well. Still, writes Gierach, “I came to think of [his] glancing pronouncements as Michigan haiku: brief, no more than obliquely revealing, and oddly beautiful.” Ultimately, the man was focused on settling accounts, getting in one last fishing trip, and then planning to “sit in the sun and think things over until it’s time for hospice.”

In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6858-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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