A remarkably timely dispatch from the turbulent Land of Oz.

READ REVIEW

OZZIE'S SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

LESSONS FROM THE DUGOUT, THE CLUBHOUSE, AND THE DOGHOUSE

Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist examines the highly idiosyncratic ways of Ozzie Guillen, baseball’s most controversial manager.

Well, that didn’t take long. Only days into the 2012 season and the Miami Marlins suspended their new manager for five games for praising Fidel Castro, remarks that enraged the city’s Cuban community. Whether this or some future furor results in his firing, the episode appears to confirm Morrissey’s prediction that things will “end messy” for Guillen in Miami, just as they did in Chicago with the White Sox. In this debut, Morrissey employs “a Ten Commandments format” common to business management guides, almost as if to demonstrate how resistant Guillen’s messy style is to any traditional template. Too maddeningly contradictory to ever be pinned down, Guillen lives for the spotlight, disregarding “rules” that normally apply to sound management. Thus, he likes “to be in the hot seat,” but he’s unusually sensitive to criticism; he refuses to throw players under the bus, except when he does; he forthrightly confesses to working only for “fucking money,” but his “biggest satisfaction” is winning championship rings; he’s the first Latin manager to win the World Series, but a coach for the Dodgers, a Dominican native, thinks Guillen has “embarrassed every Latino player, coach and front office person.” Morrissey credits Guillen for his baseball acumen, energy and drive, traits that allowed him to embrace a foreign culture from the age of 17 and succeed as a player and manager. But he wonders whether the drama he creates, almost all of it attributable to his fabulously profane, unguarded tongue, will undo him. In today’s buttoned-down, stat-driven era, Guillen is a throwback, a reminder of when baseball burst with colorful characters and when a skipper could be every bit as brash, fiery and impulsive as Guillen and still keep his job.

A remarkably timely dispatch from the turbulent Land of Oz.

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9500-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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

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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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