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...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, May 30, 2005

Oregano of Arrogance

For the past week, I've been haranguing my friends to read Buzz Bissinger's book about Tony La Russa's St. Louis Cardinals, 3 Nights in August.

Not because the book is so good, but because the writing is so so so laughably bad. And this chap won a Pulitzer for Friday Night Lights!

The book tells the first-hand account of baseball's most innovative but highly internalised manager, who furthermore holds a law degree and is known for being one OCD tic away from outright lunacy.

Obviously, a very normal baseball man.

Whilst there is no doubt that books on baseball are the most fantastic reads, since they seem to attract the best sport writers around from David Halberstam to George Will to Studs Terkel (not to mention my childhood hero, Ring Lardner Sr.), this ain't one of them.

Still, I urge you to read it. Really. And when you do, turn to page 53 and savour this lovely line:

"An oregano of arrogance"

...when speaking of Sammy Sosa. That's just before he steps up to the plate as "if he were the Pope".

Oh, and Mark Prior has legs like redwoods. His calves are so big they should be called Calfzilla.


Now Moneyball -- that was a book on baseball that read like a dream.

But Buzz (Buzz! I ask you) Bissinger's book is a study on how not to use similes, but if you do, don't evoke spices and/or herbs if at all possible.

If that's all it takes to write a bestseller, I'm going to get two Pulitzers in my lifetime yet.


  • Sportswriters tend to be valued in proportion to their 'literariness', which unfortunately correlates inversely to actual understanding of the game.

    That's one of the reasons the New York Times has long had the worst sports coverage in the country.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Jun 03, 05:25:00 pm GMT-4  

  • But see, I never got the impression that Buzz Bissinger was such a brain for baseball (unlike other sport writers, he seems not to concentrate on one sport -- rather as if George Will wrote about rugby AND baseball. That's just so wrong).

    Oh he loves the game, but a bit like Bob Costas, he gets lost in deconstructing details of the game, rather than letting the game come alive by itself (a feat accomplished by Michael Lewis in Moneyball).

    And I'm not sure I agree about the NYT and literariness.

    Oh! I totally agree that their sport coverage is abysmal, but like the execrable writing of the Guardian, I think it has more to do with the fact that "intellectuals" and sport are not to suppose to mix.

    That's why I always liked American sport writers -- I may not like Ed Pope's editorials in the Miami Horrible etc., but the guy can write.

    And this guy can't write to save his life.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Jun 03, 07:16:00 pm GMT-4  

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