Sunday, March 31, 2013

What You're Not Reading, Day Ten

Here's a stat for you: Alex Rodriguez will make more money than the entire Astros roster combined. Sigh.

It's Opening Day! Right now, the Astros and Rangers are kicking off the baseball season; it's the second inning and the Astros aren't yet losing. There are Rangers at first and second, though, so I'm not holding my breath. Gianna and I are both watching the game--though not together, as it's my day to update the blog and I'm thinking that Gianna planned it this way--and there's a lot at stake. Every year we bet on whose team will be worse: my Astros, her Cubs. I believe in my team! Specifically, I believe that they can set a new record for most losses in a season. Look out 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Your 134 losses in a season is history.

Middle of the second: score is tied at 0-0.

In honor of the national pastime and the amazing suckitude of our two favorite teams, today I've picked Who's on Worst by Filip Bondy as my pick. If you're a baseball fan, and particularly if you're a baseball fan whose team lost 107 games last year, consider this book your therapy. It could be worse (though I do wonder if the paperback edition will include an afterword chronicling the 2013 Astros season).

Top of the third: score is still 0-0, but four of the first six Astros have struck out.

For all his celebrating, you'd
think that Jose Lima was actually
a decent pitcher. You'd be wrong.
Filip Bondy is a sports columnist for the New York Daily News, and he's the guy you want to sit beside if
you're watching a game between, say, the Astros and the Cubs. He knows his arcane baseball trivia, he's entertaining, and he's not afraid to say that Cal Ripken Jr. was ridiculously overrated. (I hate Cal. He's the guy who confused perfect attendance for the honor roll in junior high.) Who are the worst hitters? Who are the worst fielders? Worst pitchers? (The pitching chapter is named for a former Astro!) There's an entire chapter dedicated to the ridiculousness that is the Yankees and their payroll, entitled "$23,000,097 per win," which, if you're wondering, is more for one win than the Astros payroll for 2013. Yes, I'm going to keep ranting about this fact.

Middle of the third: umps have blown two calls already, leading me to believe that not only are the rules inferior for American League ball, the umpires are too. The score is still 0-0.
You never ever ever ever ever reach over the wall for a foul. 

In the chapter entitled "Bonehead," dedicated to the biggest goats of all time, you'll find Gianna's Cubs discussed on page 128 for Steve Bartman's foul ball. There's a chapter called "Too Fat to Bat" that's dedicated to all of the awful contracts out there that don't belong to Yankees.

Bottom of the third: 0-0. Zorro the Rally Cat is officially napping.

One of my favorite chapters is all about the mediocre to bad players who tried taking steroids and STILL sucked. I love these guys. They are Darwin Award-calibre stupid. Oh, and there's a chapter for the guys who were average most of the time but are known for fluke plays or streaks. Bucky Dent is one of those. And David Effing Eckstein. I hate David Effing Eckstein.

Who's on Worst is book full of all the stuff that makes baseball the thinking person's sport of choice. When a sport is 150 years old and stats have been kept for most of that time, fans become obsessed with these conversations. Joking aside, just how bad a hitter was Bob Uecker? What was up with that ball that bounced off of Jose Canseco's head for a homerun? Who had the worst of the awful Yankees contracts? And let's not forget the owners such as Marge Schott, who wore furs and slung racist slurs like a skinhead in a prison yard. Did you know that Pete Rose's son played pro ball? Yeah, he was terrible.

Top of the fourth: still 0-0.

For games like the one I'm currently watching, you want to sit in the stands with a pal like Gianna and take joy in the misery of a sport that is made for savoring.  Oh, and there's an Astro on the cover of Who's on Worst?. That seems appropriate.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What You're Not Reading, Day Nine

I never leave home without a book, especially when I travel. Wait, no, that’s not true. What I meant to say is, I am constantly forgetting to bring a book when I travel. I am not an e-reader fanatic and the only thing I read on my phone is news (and by news I mean celebrity news; it’s the only thing worth reading in miniature).  It's not that I hate e-readers (I have two) it's just that I am constantly losing things when I travel, so I would rather lose a fifteen dollar book and yet another pair of socks than my iPad.

I get major anxiety when I enter a bookstore--too many choices. I could probably make a life and death decision within seconds but picking out which book I want to read on my three hour flight sends me into panic. The solution used to be to take a Xanax and talk myself through the genres and then authors; in total, choosing a book took between 45 minutes to an hour. By the end of it I was completely exhausted and ended up sleeping the whole flight, making the entire exercise futile.

I found a new solution. When I find myself sans book on the road, I buy a volume of the Best American series. Most recently I purchased the 2012 edition of The Best American Mystery Stories edited by Robert Crais, which is filled with gems. Mary Gaitskill’s "The Other Place" about a man who is obsessed with violence, Thomas McGuane’s "The Good Samaritan" about a man who hires a mysterious ranch hand, and my favorite story in the collection, "Returning the River," by the great Daniel Woodrell, which might just be the most dark yet beautiful Woodrell story I’ve read.

Filling out the Best American Series this year are Best American Comics, Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading (next on my list), Best American Short Stories, Best American Science Nature Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Sports Writing. 

So that’s it, that’s my solution to travel. Now, I’m like everyone else, I take Xanax just for fun.