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Play Ball! New Baseball Books.

Although it still feels sort of like winter, a new baseball season is nearly upon us. For at least one day, everyone is still in contention. Below are a few new titles to whet the appetite of the baseball purists among us.

Click for availability and more information The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption, by Stuart Banner
Legal historian Stuart Banner illuminates the series of court rulings that resulted in one of the most curious features of our legal system-baseball's exemption from antitrust law. It provides a history of the game as seen through the prism of an extraordinary series of courtroom battles, ranging from 1890 to the present. The book looks at such pivotal cases as the 1922 Supreme Court case which held that federal antitrust laws did not apply to baseball; the 1972 Flood v. Kuhn decision that declared that baseball is exempt even from state antitrust laws; and several cases from the 1950s, one involving boxing and the other football, that made clear that the exemption is only for baseball, not for sports in general. He reveals that for all the well-documented foibles of major league owners, baseball has consistently received and followed antitrust advice from leading lawyers, shrewd legal advice that eventually won for baseball a protected legal status enjoyed by no other industry in America.

Click for availability and more information The Bird: the life and legacy of Mark Fidrych , by Doug Wilson
The first biography of the eccentric pitcher, rookie All-Star starter, 70's pop icon, and first athlete on the cover of Rolling Stone. Through extensive interviews and meticulous research, the author recounts Fidrych's meteoric rise from Northborough, Massachusetts, to the big leagues, his heartbreaking fall after a torn knee ligament and then rotator cuff, his comeback attempts with the Tigers and in the Red Sox system, and one unforgettable night when The Bird pitched a swan song for the Pawtucket Red Sox against future star Dave Righetti in a game that remains part of local folklore. Finally, Wilson captures Fidrych's post-baseball life and his roles in the community, tragically culminating with his death in a freak accident in 2009. 

Click for availability and more information Chicago Cubs: Where Have You Gone?: Ernie Banks, Andy Pafko, Ferguson Jenkins, and other Cubs greats, by Fred Mitchell
Newly revised and updated, this exciting book catches up with more than 50 former Cubs players including Ferguson Jenkins, Dickie Noles, Milt Pappas and Don Zimmer,letting fans know where their heroes have gone and what they have been up to since capturing their full attention at Wrigley Field. As a former (and successfully rehabilitated) Cubs fan, this book brings back many memories, mostly of the sad and tragic variety. But, it is full of insight and good humor. and much more enjoyable now that  I've moved on. 

Click for availability and more information Francona: the Red Sox years , by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
From 2004 to 2011, Terry Francona managed the Boston Red Sox, perhaps the most scrutinized team in all of sports. During that time, every home game was a sellout. Every play, call, word, gesture--on the field and off--was analyzed by thousands. And every decision was either genius, or disastrous. In those eight years, the Red Sox were transformed from a cursed franchise to one of the most successful and profitable in baseball history--only to fall back to last place as soon as Francona was gone. Now the decorated manager opens up for the first time about his tenure in Boston, unspooling the narrative of how this world-class organization reached such incredible highs and dipped to equally incredible lows. But through it all, there was always baseball, that beautiful game of which Francona never lost sight. 

Click for availability and more information Game of My Life: New York Yankees: memorable stories of Yankees baseball , by Dave Buscema
In a book that's very similar in concept to the Cubs title above, some of the biggest names to ever don the pinstripes are captured in personal portraits here, from Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, and all the way back to Yogi Berra and Tommy Henrich. Along with taking readers behind the scenes of the greatest moments in Yankees history--from Bucky Dent's home run to David Wells's perfect game--the book offers a glimpse of what helped the stars reach their peak. This is a great opportunity for Yanks fans to revel in their team's many years of success. 

Click for availability and more information Hank Greenberg: baseball star, Jewish hero, American legend , by John Rosengren
Baseball in the 1930s was more than a national pastime; it was a cultural touchstone that galvanized communities and gave a struggling country its heroes despite the woes of the Depression. Hank Greenberg, one of the most exciting sluggers in baseball history, gave the people of Detroit a reason to be proud. But America was facing more than economic hardship. With the Nazis gaining power across Europe, political and social tensions were approaching a boiling point. As one of the few Jewish athletes competing nationally, Hank Greenberg became not only an iconic ball player, but also an important and sometimes controversial symbol of Jewish identity and the American immigrant experience. When Hank joined the Detroit Tigers in 1933, they were headed for a dismal fifth-place season finish. The following year, with Hank leading the charge, they were fighting off the Yankees for the pennant. As his star ascended, he found himself cheered wherever he went. But there were other noises also. On and off the field, he met with taunts and anti-Semitic threats. Yet the hardship only drove him on to greater heights, sharing the spotlight with the most legendary sluggers of the day, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig. This biography is an intimate account of the man's life on and off the field. It is a portrait of integrity and triumph over adversity.

Click for availability and more information Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame : the national baseball hall of fame and museum, foreword by Brooks Robinson
A lavishly photographed tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame's greatest treasures provides authoritative coverage of such subjects as FDR's "Green Light Letter," the Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day Trophy and the shoes worn by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson during the infamous 1919 World Series.This is excellent to thumb through between innings. 

Click for availability and more information Total Mets: the definitive encyclopedia of the New York Mets, by David Ferry
Published in conjunction with the franchise's 50th anniversary, this is the definitive historical and statistical compendium for the ball club. Spanning the team's entire history--from their inception in 1962, through the World Series championships of 1969 and 1986, and right up to the most current squads--this volume is loaded with features that include season recaps of every Mets season, statistics and highlights for every game in franchise history, team and individual records in every major statistical category, and biographies for every Mets player. This may help you make it through a season that looks less than encouraging. 

Click for availability and more information Trading Bases: a story about Wall Street, gambling, and baseball (not necessarily in that order), by Joe Peta
After the fall of Lehman Brothers, Joe Peta was out of a job. He found a new one but lost that, too, when an ambulance mowed him down. In search of a way to cheer himself up while he recuperated in a wheelchair, Peta started watching baseball again, as he had growing up. That's when inspiration hit: Why not apply his outstanding risk-analysis skills to improve on sabermetrics, the method made famous by Moneyball--and beat the only market in town, the Vegas betting line? Why not treat MLB like the S&P 500? Peta shows how to subtract luck--in particular "cluster luck," as he puts it--from a team's statistics to best predict how it will perform in the next game and over the whole season. His baseball "hedge fund" returned an astounding 41 percent in 2011--and has never been down more than 5 percent. Peta takes readers to the ballpark in San Francisco, trading floors and baseball bars in New York and sports books in Vegas, all while tracing the progress of his wagers. Often humorous, occasionally touching, and with a wink toward the sheer implausibility of the whole project, Trading Bases is all about the love of critical reasoning, trading cultures, risk management, and baseball. And not necessarily in that order.

Click for availability and more information Who's on Worst?: the lousiest players, biggest cheaters, saddest goats and other antiheroes in baseball history, by Filip Bondy
A whimsical celebration of professional baseball's lowest-achieving players and contributors draws on extensive research to provide richly detailed stories profiling batters who fell below the "Mendoza Line," managers who led losing teams in spite of steroids and more, in a volume complemented by top-ten worst lists.

New Football Books

Just in time for the season to begin, here are some new books on football that have just arrived.

Click for availability and more information Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the inside story behind the NFL's greatest quarterback controversy, by Adam Lazarus
This revealing, in-depth look at the NFL's greatest quarterback controversy takes readers into the locker room and inside the huddle to deliver the real story behind the rivalry when Joe Montana and Steve Young battled on and off the field and forged one of the finest football dynasties of all time. From 1987 to 1994, the two future Hall of Famers spurred each other on to remarkable heights, including three Super Bowl wins and four MVP awards, and set new standards for quarterback excellence.

Click for availability and more information Illegal procedure: a sports agent comes clean on the dirty business of college football, by Josh Luchs and James Dale
A suspended NFL sports agent reveals ubiquitous practices of corruption in collegiate sports, frankly discussing his own illegal deals with various college athletes before he was ousted for a violation he did not commit, in a full-length account based on his 2010 Sports Illustrated confessional that discusses his subsequent dedication to whistle-blowing and college football reformation.

Click for availability and more information Island cup: two teams, twelve miles of ocean, and fifty years of football rivalry, by James Sullivan
To most of us "mainlanders," the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are resort destinations, summer homes for the Kennedys, the Obamas, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. But after the tourists and jetsetters leave, the cold weather descends, and the local shop owners, carpenters, and fishermen ready themselves for the main event: high school football. For over fifty years, the local teams have been locking horns every November. They play for pride, a coveted trophy, and, very often, a shot at the league championship. Despite their tiny populations, both islands are dangerous on the football field.This far-reaching book tells the story not only of the Whaler-Vineyarder rivalry, but of two places without a country. Filled with empty houses nine months of the year, Nantucket and the Vineyard have long, unique histories that include such oddities as an attempt to secede from the United States and the invention of a proprietary sign language. Delving into the rich history of both places, Sullivan paints a picture of a bygone New England, a place that has never stopped fighting for its life--and the rights to the Island Cup.

Click for availability and more information The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the rowdy, reckless '70's, the era that created modern sports, by Kevin Cook
The inside story of the most colorful decade in NFL history--pro football's raging, hormonal, hairy, druggy, immortal adolescence.Between the Immaculate Reception in 1972 and The Catch in 1982, pro football grew up. In 1972, Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice. NFL teams roomed in skanky motels. They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie. A decade later, Joe Montana's gleamingly efficient 49ers ushered in a new era: the corporate, scripted, multibillion-dollar NFL we watch today. Kevin Cook's rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players--Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken "Snake" Stabler--to re-create their heroics and off-field carousing.

Click for availability and more information Perfection: the untold story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins' perfect season, by Bob Griese and Dave Hyde
Written by the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the 1972 Dolphins to victory, this exciting behind-the-scenes story of the only undefeated team in NFL history vividly brings to life the Miami Dolphins' incredible championship season.

Click for availability and more information The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th anniversary book: where greatness lives, edited by John Thorn and Joe Horrigan
Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Canton, Ohio Hall of Fame with essays and commentary from writers, broadcasters and fans as well as a comprehensive history of the game and highlights of lives and careers of legendary players. In addition, the book features rarely seen photos and artifacts of some of the Hall's greatest treasures.

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