Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime
Everyone knows that baseball is a game of intricate regulations, but it turns out to be even more complicated than we realize. What truly governs the Major League game is a set of unwritten rules, some of which are openly discussed (don’t steal a base with a big lead late in the game), and some of which only a minority of players are even aware of (don’t cross between the catcher and the pitcher on the way to the batter’s box).
In The Baseball Codes, old-timers and all-time greats share their insights into the game’s most hallowed, and least known, traditions. For the learned and the casual baseball fan alike, the result is illuminating and thoroughly entertaining.
At the heart of this book are incredible and often hilarious stories involving national heroes, like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, and notorious headhunters, like Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale, in a century-long series of confrontations over respect, honor, and the soul of the game. With The Baseball Codes, we see for the first time the game as it’s actually played, through the eyes of the players on the field.
With rollicking stories from the past and new perspectives on baseball’s informal rulebook, The Baseball Codes is a must for every fan.
©2010 Jason Turbow with Michael Duca (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Delicious…Entertaining…The Baseball Codes reads like a lab report by a psychologist who has been observing hostile toddlers whack one another with plastic shovels in a sandbox.” (New York Times Book Review)
“A frankly incredible book—a history and analysis of baseball’s insular culture of unwritten rules, protocols and superstitions, assembled over the course of ten years…I can say without hesitation that this is one of the all-time greats—a first-ballot Hall of Famer.” (NPR)
“[A] highly entertaining read…A comprehensive, sometimes hilarious guide to perhaps a misunderstood aspect of our national pastime.” (Publishers Weekly)
For anyone who loves baseball, this is a wonderful book to listen to. With moments from the early days of baseball all the way up to 2009, this book is complete with quotes from players and coaches such as: Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Dave Henderson, Joe Torre, Ted Williams, Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey Jr., Dusty Baker, Barry Bonds, Tommy Lasorda, Albert Pujols, etc.
It covers topics from fighting, to pitching inside, and even the proper way to steal signs. If you love the game, this book is awesome.
Whenever I review an audiobook, I comment on both the book itself and the narration, as poor narration can make or break a book, even if it's a good one in print.
Books like this lend themselves especially well to audio format, as they're essentially a collection of stories. If done well, it's like listening to an eloquent old-timer tell fascinating stories from his past. If done poorly, it's a bit like the auditory equivalent of watching grass grow. While I wouldn't say the narration here is quite as bad as the latter analogy, it's closer to it than to the former. Michael Kramer is dry and passionless in his narration. He inject no color into the stories. He's simply... reading. Quite boring. These professional narrators just leave me cold. They have clear voices and good diction, but no character. They would have been much better off getting someone from the baseball world to read the book. Veteran broadcaster Charley Steiner, who narrated the excellent umpiring chronicle, "As They See 'em" would have been perfect.
As to the book itself, it's a little boring as well. Perhaps it's just because I've been involved in baseball all my life, but most of the codes were pretty obvious and well-known. The book is heavy on anecdotes, many of which are not nearly as interesting as one would think. Anecdotes are a good thing, but he provides too many of them for each of the "codes." He seems intent on having about five – lengthy! – examples for each one, where one or two, perhaps three, would have been fine. This makes the book drag on a bit, and leaves the reader often thinking, "okay... I get it!" It could have been more effective by grouping them into themes rather than specific "codes," and then having different examples within the theme.
If you're new to baseball, yet very interested in it, you will probably enjoy this book – if the narration doesn't put you to sleep, you will probably enjoy it. If you're a baseball veteran, you won't find too much new inside.
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