Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Notes: The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia

Robert Schnakenberg  2010

This was another book I was able to get at 60% off from the local Borders that is closing shop.  What to say about this book... It’s not a typical encyclopedia, I'll say that.  As I was flipping through this book, pretty quickly I noticed a theme:  this author is pretty snide.  In fact, the description of the book says it’s a “decidedly snarky trip” through baseball.   Is it ever. 

I actually laughed out loud at many of the comments.  I learned that George Brett had hemorrhoids and that a couple of Yankee pitchers engaged in wife swapping in 1973.  Hideki Matsui had over 55,000 "distinct items in his porn stash."  I'm pretty sure that is larger than my card collection.  The only baseball card reference that I caught was an entry for the 1989 Bill Ripken error card.  I won't show a picture of the card, but I'm sure you know what I am talking about. 

However, snark, like many things, is something that can get old pretty quickly.  I am a bit of a cynical person, but I try to keep it contained somewhat, and I hope I do not come across too cynical in my blog.  This book is cynical, and after a while it began to rub me the wrong way.   Of course, when the topics turn to Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Dixie Walker and some others, you expect a little snarkery...
Ok, here’s the truth.  I got ticked off by his entry for baseball enthusiast and my hero, George Will and his book, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball: "A collection of windy, self-consciously erudite observations on game strategy, the book appealed to pseudointellectuals and other literary-minded traditionalists who required an ennobling fig leaf to justify their fandom." 
There is more, but you get the point.
So on behalf of all literary traditionalists, thank you, George Will for the fig leaf and STICK IT SCHNAKENBERG.   

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