Boswell, syndicated sports columnist for the Washington Post, does not, thankfully, peddle maudlin nostalgia for Willie, Mickey, and the Duke or ponder the exploits of the stork-legged Babe. Nor does he prophesy baseball's demise in an era of obscene money, divisional mitosis, and the designated hitter. ""Baseball is, as much as anything,"" he writes, ""a lifelong conversation among friends. The game is our excuse to talk."" In that spirit he turns an educated, loving, and open eye on the game's more intriguing questions and personalities: Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive-game streak, Bo Jackson, pitcher Jack Morris, the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, and more. Boswell loves and writes about the real game -- not the mythology.