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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Another Damn Book On The Pile Of Unreads

Via BTF comes a review Netshrine of an upcoming book called Fantasyland:
Fantasyland is Sam Walker’s chronicle of his first rotisserie baseball experience.  However, this is not your everyday fantasy baseball rookie tale.  Walker is a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal who talked his way into joining “Tout Wars” (which is a prominent rotisserie “experts” league) for their 2004 season.  Additionally, Sam was armed with a substantial budget – he spent nearly $20,000 traveling and preparing for the league’s player auction – and he decided to employ both a Sabermetrician, Sig Mejdal, and someone who was more focused on the qualitative-side of scouting, Ferdinando (Nando) Di Fino, to assist him through his rotisserie expedition.  As such, the debate of Sabermetrics versus traditional scouting (and the balancing of the two schools) is a prevailing thread throughout the book – and in many ways Fantasyland is akin to a good buddy-movie in the way that these three characters (Sam, Sig and Nando) play off each other.

But, there’s more to Fantasyland beyond Walker’s personal fantasy baseball experience. 

As a sportswriter, Sam Walker has the access that most fantasy team owners can only dream about – in that he has a direct connection to players, scouts, coaches and general managers.  As such, in the book, there are many remarkable stories involving Walker’s roto-related exchanges with current major league baseball participants such as Jacque Jones, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jose Guillen, David Oritz, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Miguel Batista, Mark Shapiro, Jim Beattie, Theo Epstein, Dave Littlefield, Billy Beane, Kenny Williams, Lou Piniella, Alan Trammel, and Mike Scioscia – just to name a few (from a list of numerous personalities).

Great... just what I need, another baseball book to clutter my nightstand, unread. I still haven't finished Ball Four, or Jon's book, or (in sequence) the Ross Newhan history of the Angels, Steve Bischeff's exploitation-o-rama on the 2002 squad, &c., &c. &c.
Hope everyone had a happy New Year's. Kinda weird that the Rose parade is tomorrow, huh? Get with the program, guys: the blue laws are dead, save for those sorry remnants of the nation where Biblical say-so outranks radiocarbon dating.

What, you haven't finished Ball Four? That's essential!

I, too, never finished Newhan's book on the Angels. It just did not grab me the way I was so sure it would. Or maybe it was the cover, showing that dreadful Disneyheim Angels logo.
I got Ball Four last year as a Christmas present and got about two-thirds of the way through it when I realized... well, of course. These are men of limited backgrounds, and they have the kinds of lives and adventures you'd expect. When given the opportunity to go beaver shooting with multitudinous amenable maidens, why not? Presented with the need for constant energy, a platter full of greenies, and the knowledge that your opponents are also so armed, why wouldn't you? Maybe in in the 70's this book was a big deal, but to me it reads these days like a rather tedious accounting of one man's daily life, a string of blog posts by an author whose writing lacks the vivaciousness you'd expect from someone as active as a professional athlete.
I don't think you can really claim blue laws are dead...here in Madison (an extremely liberal town), car dealerships are not allowed to be open on Sundays. Besides, whenever New Year's falls on a Sunday, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl fall on the following day. Part of this (at least the Rose Bowl part) has more to do with the fact that College Football is not allowed to play on Sundays (because of the NFL), while the NFL is not allowed to play on Saturdays during the College Football regular season.
The blue laws are dead in the civilized (i.e., tolerant) portions of the country. And that is all that matters, in my mind.
Man, I hate it when people use the word "tolerant" like that. It always means "tolerant to my point of view, but not necessarily anyone else's." And Madison is extremely "tolerant" in the way that you mention.

Besides, I don't actually think that blue laws have anything to do with the Rose Parade being on a Monday (it may have at one time, but now it is a tradition). While you are complaining about blue laws (which I am not actually particularly for), you might as well complain that New Year's and Christmas were observed the day after this year just so that people could get the day off. Or that normal businesses aren't open on the weekend.
For clarity, I mean tolerant as in "legally unbiased by religion". venganza.org still has no open letter addressed to a California school board, to my knowledge; there is one such to one in Wisconsin, however. Madison may be tolerant, but large swaths of the Badger State are not.
One further comment: in what universe is tolerance defined by enshrining in the law one particular group's religious prejudices?
The "never on Sunday" policy started for the Tournament of Roses in 1922, so during the heart of Sabbatarianism (the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century), the Rose Parade was held on Sundays, but the parade was a much smaller deal.

The reason the parade and game (in most years) is not on Sundays because of TV. Sunday is belongs to a religion that is paramount in American: the NFL.

All the other bowl games adopted the Rose Bowl's practice despite their location: Dallas, New Orleans, Miami.
Rob, you are right. You should have read Ball Four in the 70s when it was still shocking.

Actually, I read it 7-10 years ago and enjoyed it, but it was also one of the few things I had to read on a long flight. Not sure it would have held my interest so well otherwise. Then again, I took the Newhan book on a long flight once, and still could not get into it.
The reason the Rose Parade is not held on Sunday is because it would have scared the horses "parked" in front of the many churches that lined Colorado Blvd. at the time. Seriously. That's the reason for the original decision. It's not exactly a blue law-type thing.

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