Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crying Cub

The t-shirt that says so much without uttering a word.

Available here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nice Guys Finish Last

University of Chicago Press just re-released "Nice Guys Finish Last" in paperback, and I was asked to review the book for The Beachwood Reporter. My full review is here.

Here's a short excerpt:

Durocher was a bench warmer on those great Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig Yankee teams in the late 1920s, a spark plug for the legendary "Gas House Gang" in St. Louis in the 1930s, the manager of the Dodgers when the color line was broken in the 1940s, and the manager of the Giants in the 1950s when Willie Mays came to the majors and Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard 'round the world.

His stories about his run-ins with the baseball executives of the day, including Yankees owner Ed Barrow (Leo told him to "Go f*** yourself"), Cardinals owner Branch Rickey (the tightwad Bible-thumping baseball genius), Dodgers owner Lee McPhail (the manic-depressive lunatic), and Giants owner Horace Stoneham (the distant drunk), are almost inspiring in their iconoclastic furor.

But I'm a Cubs fan first and foremost, and for me the most interesting parts of the book were the little tidbits about some of the all-time Cub greats like Pat Malone, Charlie Grimm, Billy Herman, Bill "Swish" Nicholson, Rabbit Maranville, and of course, the Cubs that Leo managed in the late 60s and early 70s.

Those Cubs years were still fresh news when Nice Guys Finish Last first came out, and while I love the inside look at my childhood heroes, this entire section does make Leo sound like he's attempting to settle some scores. He calls out Ernie Banks as a phony, and implies Ron Santo was an overrated dimwitted baby. He calls Milt Pappas an agitator, and implies Joe Pepitone was God's punishment for Leo's own behavior as a player.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the book for me, though, was Leo's portrayal of Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley. Durocher, who has almost nothing nice to say about anyone (except Willie Mays and Eddie Stanky), calls Wrigley "The finest man to work for in the world" and "The most decent man I've met."

I did not see that one coming.

Farewell to Brooklyn & NY Giants

This week in 1957, the Cubs made their final stop at the Polo Grounds in New York (August 24), and Ebbet's Field in Brooklyn (August 28). The Dodgers and Giants both moved to the West Coast after the 1957 season. The Dodgers finished in 3rd place that season, the Giants finished in 6th, and the Cubs...they were in 7th place, 33 games behind the pennant winning Milwaukee Braves.

By the way, the Cubs did beat the Giants that last game in the Polo Grounds, but they lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers in their last game at Ebbets Field (4-3 in 14 innings).

Monday, August 24, 2009

In case you missed it...

The sale of the Cubs is finally, finally, a done deal.

The Ricketts family now owns 25% of Comcast, Wrigley Field, and two corner outfielders that nobody in baseball will take off their hands.