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Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball
Synopses & Reviews
Baseball is a game of instinct and keen observation, of knowing which way the ball is going to bounce off a broken bat and knowing whether a player wears his pants high or low. At least it is to Howie Traveler, who never made it as a player — his one major league hit and .091 batting average attest to that.
After years of struggling his way up the coaching ladder, Howie's finally been given his shot to manage in the big leagues. But America's pastime has changed. Whether Howie can spot a small flaw in a batter's swing won't matter if he can't manage today's megastar players — especially his superstar outfielder, Jay Alcazar.
If Howie can't get through to Jay — a homerun slugger with giant talents and an ego to match — his managing career will be over as soon as it began. But Jay has no use for Howie. Until, that is, one night at the hotel when Howie sees something at Jay's door he wishes he hadn't...
From six-time National Sportswriter of the Year and NPR commentator Frank Deford comes a page-turning novel that takes you deep into America's game. The Entitled is a tale of modern baseball. It takes you inside a ball club and inside the mind of a defeated manager and a champion slugger, as only Deford can. He creates a world where the idealism of the old game meets the reality of today's sports landscape, as idolized millionaires step in to replace the boyhood heroes of yesterday. Deford's writing is authentic and emanates today's baseball. Fans who already know quite a bit about the game will get more knowledge out of this book than they have with non-fiction books on the genre.
"Sportswriter, screenwriter and author Deford (Alex: The Life of a Child; Everybody's All-American) scores another hit with this novel of athletes behaving badly. After a career spent knocking around in the minor leagues as a player and manager, Howie Traveler has finally made it to the majors as manager of the Cleveland Indians. The team, however, is struggling, and Howie's job is in jeopardy when the team's star player, Jay Alcazar, is accused of rape. Though Howie's playing career stalled out in Triple A, his big league management career depends on how well he can handle Alcazar, heralded as 'the best player in the game.' Alcazar insists he's innocent — perhaps even believes it — but Howie suspects otherwise, having witnessed a troubling scene involving accused and accuser the night of the alleged rape. Now, Howie has to choose between his conscience and his dream job. The resolution won't please everyone, but Deford tackles timely and provocative issues without flinching." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"I wish it were longer, and that's something that I've rarely said about the baseball games I've covered in 30 years as a sportswriter. But it's how I felt while reading 'The Entitled,' the new baseball novel by Frank Deford. The title covers the surface story. It's about a superstar named Jay Alcazar, a Cuban power hitter who makes a hard sport look ridiculously easy. Being entitled... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) is part of the package: The money is huge, the women always available, the fans forever adoring — or so it seems for Alcazar. So far, the book sounds like one big cliche. But what makes this novel as much fun to read as watching Gold Glover Omar Vizquel play shortstop is that the story is primarily told from the viewpoint of the candid and colorful Howie Traveler, Alcazar's manager with the Cleveland Indians. Deford won me over early in the book when he wrote that Traveler is amazed at 'how ignorant modern players were about geography. Of course, it also amazed him how ignorant many modern players were about the game of baseball, and they played baseball for a living. ... ' Then there is this: 'He never really understood pitchers. They were different from hitters in that pitchers didn't seem to Howie to be whole people. They were just one thing, an arm, attached to the corpus. Pitchers were sort of like ordinary girls who got by because they had big boobs.' Now that's the kind of authentic stuff you might hear between spits of tobacco and the cracking of sunflower seeds when you sit around the dugout with aging baseball men. Traveler had all the brains and savvy to be a star, but not the talent. As Deford writes, 'Traveler was, basically, a displaced person. Baseball had cost him any sense of home. After his career was over ... he'd have to go somewhere to live year-round, but for the life of him, he couldn't imagine where that might be.' Baseball is home to so many men like this. They played until they were told they couldn't play anymore — usually in a place like Buffalo or El Paso. Then they started a coaching career in the minors, hoping to reach the majors as a first base coach and maybe, just maybe, get a chance one day to manage one of the 30 major league teams. Their lives consist of spring training in Arizona or Florida, summer in the city of whatever team employs them and fall in the Florida Instructional League. They have maybe two months away from the game, unless they want to go to Latin America and coach winter ball — as many do. In the process, they marry, divorce and often become strangers to their children. They may have a few affairs, but no real relationships. As time passes, they get to the park earlier and earlier — maybe 10 a.m. for night games — because they have nowhere else to go. As Deford writes, 'The better Howie got at managing a baseball team, the more he shied away from trying to manage his family, because that was harder and because that wasn't fun or satisfying the way baseball could be.' An acclaimed sportswriter and author ('Everybody's All-American,' 'Alex: The Life of a Child'), Deford is a masterly writer, and the book kept me up part of two nights. The plot revolves around an allegation that Alcazar raped a woman after she willingly went up to his hotel room. Traveler saw something that may or may not have been incriminating, but it certainly would cause more problems for his star — and, therefore, him. The police ask Traveler what he knows, but if he tells the truth, he could very well lose his player, his job and perhaps any chance of ever working in baseball again. Then what would he do with his life? And what if what he saw meant nothing, and everything Alcazar told the police is true? The weakest part of the novel is Deford's attempt to resolve this moral dilemma, which takes away from a terrific buildup. This failure of the plot to live up to its vivid characters makes 'The Entitled' sort of like a great 1-1 game called after 12 innings because of a curfew. The ending may be unsatisfactory, but you loved the experience anyway." Reviewed by Carolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comTerry Pluto, a sports columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and the author of 'The Curse of Rocky Colavito' and 'Dealing: The Rebuilding of the Cleveland Indians', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"I wish it were longer, and that's something that I've rarely said about the baseball games I've covered in 30 years as a sportswriter. But it's how I felt while reading The Entitled, the new baseball novel by Frank Deford." Terry Pluto, The Washington Post
"[M]ore than a terrific baseball book. It's a terrific book, period." Sports Illustrated
"Veteran sportswriter and best-selling author Deford creates two fascinating characters in Traveler and Alcazar....Deford has done much better, but expect interest based on his reputation." Booklist
"[R]eaders are exposed to a richly textured understanding of baseball and, no less, of estrangement, ambition, mendacity, and the search for one's destiny....Recommended..." Library Journal
"[A] sweet tale about a baseball-team manager, his moody superstar and their moral dilemma....A decent book enhanced by Deford's great, conversational writing style." Kirkus Reviews
"Frank Deford is not just an immensely talented sportswriter, he's an immensely talented American writer. The Entitled is his wise and pleasurable portrait of a Willy Loman-like baseball manager finally getting his chance in the Bigs late in his career." David Halberstam
"The Entitled is a baseball masterpiece, like The Natural and Field of Dreams; the difference is the plot and the characters depict the true inside world of baseball. Frank Deford writes like he played in the majors for 10 years." Mike Schmidt, Baseball Hall of Fame
About the Author
Frank Deford is a six-time National Sportswriter of the Year, Senior Contributing Editor at Sports Illustrated, commentator on NPR's Morning Edition, and a correspondent on the HBO show RealSports with Bryant Gumbel. In addition to being the author of more than a dozen books, he has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters and has been awarded both an Emmy and a Peabody. Sporting News describes Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media" and GQ simply calls him "the world's greatest sportswriter."
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