Last weekend I attended a SABR (Society of American Baseball Research) event at the Borders Bookstore across from AT+T Park in San Francisco. It was Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Night at the stadium and at 4:15 the line to get the bobblehead was strung out almost back to downtown SF. But my friend Sandy and I were not there to snag a replica of “The Freak,” but to hear three authors talk about their recently-published baseball books. Let me introduce them to you.
Jeff Gillenkirk has written a baseball novel, entitled Home, Away. Jason Thibideaux is a pitcher who has a bright future in professional baseball. After a divorce which brings out the worst in both parties, he fails to secure joint custody of his two-year-old son whom he raised full time for the previous year while his wife finished law school. Jason is devastated at being separated from his son for long periods of time as he embarks on his baseball career.
Over the next few years, through many ups and downs in his career and in his relationship with his son, Jason arrives at the crossroads and must make a gut-wrenching choice between family and career.
“Home, Away has it all — realistic family drama, the action of professional sports, witty dialogue … I was captivated from beginning to end. Gillenkirk’s book is a home run.” –Holly Goldberg Sloan, screenwriter, “Angels in the Outfield.”
I am about halfway through Home, Away, and am enjoying it thoroughly.
Mark Armour is the author of Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball. Joe Cronin was a player for 20 years for the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox, and was a 7-time allstar. He became a player-manager at the age of 26, a General Manager at age 40, President of the American League in 1950, and in the Mid-60’s was kicked upstairs to the Chairman of the League, a largely ceremonial position. He had almost 45 years at the level of manager or above, and spent over a half-century in baseball.
“For so many decades, Joe Cronin has defied the ambitions of biographers…until now, as Mark Armour finally brings us a revealing portrait of this towering figure in the game’s history,” says Rob Neyer of ESPN. “His treatment is both thorough and (equally important) very readable,” according to Bill Nowlin, author of more than 20 books on the Red Sox.
Steve L. Steinberg, a baseball historian, is the co-author (with Lyle Spats) of the book “1921: The Yankees, The Giants and the Fight for Baseball Supremacy in New York.” 1921 was the year that the Yankees won their first pennant. John McGraw of the Giants had always been the personification of New York baseball. As owner, general manager, and field manager (all at the same time), he called every pitch and managed in the old style of baseball.
By and large, the Yankees were a mediocre team before 1921. But that year, the Bronx Bombers, led by Babe Ruth, emerged as the new face of baseball. The clash between these two baseball styles and franchises is the focus of this remarkable book.
“1921 is an incredibly comprehensive look at a pivotal baseball season–for the sport, for New York, for an America finally distancing itself from war. … Iluminating and entertaining” — Frank Deford, senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated and author.
I hope you will check these books out. They are all available on Amazon.com. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Mark McGwire Highway: There is a section of Interstate 70 in St. Louis that is called Mark McGwire Highway, so designated by the Missouri Legislature one year after Mark hit his then-record 70 home runs.
That may not be true much longer. On March 1st, the Missouri Senate voted unanimously to rename that section of highway to Mark Twin Highway. Several other highway sections were also renamed in the bill for other noted Missourians. The legislation now goes to the Missouri House for a vote, and is expected to pass. The change to Mark Twain highway is apparently in response to Mark’s recent admission that he did indeed use performance enhancing drugs (PED’s).
Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia, MO. was asked if the others getting similar honors were alive or dead. He replied that it might be wise to name roads only for the deceased, because they can’t do something worth changing the name over one day, clearly referring to McGwire.
The move is a slap in the face to McGwire, as he is currently the hitting coach of the St.Louis Cardinals.
I suspect this is not the last of the fallout from Mark’s steroids admission.
Should McGwire be voted into the Hall of Fame? There is no disagreement that it was obvious that he was juicing, even before he admitted it. Here are before and after pict
Before (in 1990):
After (at the height of his steroid use):
No doubt about it, he used PED’s. So does his recent admission spell doom for his making into the Hall of Fame? Opinions are mixed on this, especially in the media.
MLB Network’s renowned sportswriter, Peter Gammons said after Mark’s announcment, “It’s very clear that he cares more about being back in uniform than being in the Hall of Fame.” … “The fact is that it’s cheating. The question is, in my mind, “Can you reward somebody with the highest honor in baseball, being in the Hall of Fame, if he indeed did cheat?’ As I sit here tonight, I say no.”
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated says, “…McGwire waited too long [to come clean], and his relationship with steroids dates back too far–20 years to be exact. His statement reveals a career not simply enhanced by drugs, but built on them.”
Others say you can’t keep McGwire out if others, such as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, get in (ESPN’s Rob Neyer), and many say you can’t ban a whole era from the HOF or put an asterisk next to the name of anyone who played during the Steroid Era.
Some would ban only those who have owned up to PED use. The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan: “Right or wrong, the Age of Discovery follows the Steroid Era.” but he goes on to say, “There are many other steroid users who will appear on Hall of Fame Ballots who will choose to stay out of the public eye–long enough, they hope, to avoid questions that might endanger their chances for the Hall.” So some steroid users may or will be elected to the Hall.
So You Tell Me: What’s your take on steroids and the Hall of Fame? Leave me a comment on the blog to let me know whether McGwire or others (Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens, Palmeiro, Giambi, etc.) should go into the Hall of Fame. Why or why not?
At The Other End of the Spectrum: My friend Eric Edward mentioned that new signs went up recently on South Coliseum Way, renaming it to Joe Morgan Way.
Note the Coliseum in the background to the right.
Now I think the world of Joe Morgan, and I don’t think he would have considered using steroids. In 1990, I was on the same flight with his parents who were on their way to Joe’s Hall of Fame Induction. A Lovely couple with a very nice son. Joe was a Hall of Famer who was born in Oakland, and perhaps it is fitting to give him honors.
However, he played only 1 season in Oakland, his last in 1984. The prior 21 summers he played in the National League. In his one season as an Athletic, he hit .244, 89 hits, 43 RBI’s in 116 games. It was clear he was winding down, given his much higher stats during most of his career.
So I wonder why they (the A’s? the City?) would rename the street for Joe. There are so many former A’s that deserve it more, in my opinion: Dennis Eckersley (born in Oakland, played the best of his career for the A’s), Rickey Henderson (lived most of his life in Oakland, played for the A’s 4 times), Catfish Hunter (Played most of his career for the A’s–KC and Oakland), to name a few. And why now, right after Rickey Henderson was inducted into the Hall?
What’s your opinion?