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Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Rememberby John Feinstein
Synopses & Reviews
Tim Wakefield is an enigma. At 43 years old, he is the longest serving member of one of the worlds most popular franchises. He is ever so close to eclipsing the winning records of two of the greatest pitchers to have ever played the game, and yet few realize the full measure of his success. That his career can even be characterized by such words as dependability and consistency defies all odds because he has achieved this with the games most mystifying and mercurial weaponthe knuckleball. Knuckler is the story of how a struggling positional player chanced his future on a fickle pitch that would eventually define his career. With the knuckleball new to his arsenal Wakefield goes from also ran to shining star with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and just as quickly falls back to earth. When he lands with the Red Sox, Wakefield begins to master the whims of his pitch until in 2003 he has the ball for one of the most ignominious post-season losses in history. All is righted when the Sox prevail in the 2004 World Series and come to know the heady days of winning championships. And even now, as Wakefield battles an aging athletes body to try to become the winningest pitcher to have ever played for the Boston Red Sox, we see the twists and turns of a major league career pushed to their ultimate extreme. A remarkable story of one players success in spite of being the exception to every single rule, Knuckler is also a lively meditation on the dancing pitch, its history, its mystique and all the inevitable ironies it brings to bear.
"Though the season-long profile-in which a sportswriter follows a player, team or coach through a single season-grows increasingly familiar, this entry from Feinstein, one of the genre's pioneers (Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL; The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever), delivers rare insight into the minds of two of baseball's most cerebral (and successful) pitchers. Veteran sportswriter Feinstein follows the Yankees' Mike Mussina and the Mets' Tom Glavine during the 2007 season, as they pursue personal milestones and try to pitch their teams back into the postseason. Although they each reach some of their goals (Mussina to 250 wins, Glavine 300), neither team reaches its ultimate goal. The main narrative, of personal and team struggle, is compelling, but the true enjoyment of books like these are in the details, and Feinstein does not disappoint. Not only does he exhaustively chronicle the season on-field, he reveals tidbits of inside ball that even hardcore fans will find enlightening: Who knew that Mussina's best friend on the Yankees is the bullpen catcher, Mike Borzello, or that Glavine helped avert a likely player strike after the 2003 season? This smart season tour makes a treat for both casual and die-had fans." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Pitchers are the heart of baseball. Feinstein tells the story of the game today through one season and two great pitchers, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, who entered 2007 in search of individual milestones and one more shot at The World Series.
At forty-four years old, Tim Wakefield is the longest-serving member of one of baseballs most popular franchises. He is close to eclipsing the winning records of two of the greatest pitchers to have played the game, yet few realize the full measure of his success. That his career can be characterized by such words as dependability and consistency defies all odds because he has achieved this with baseballs most mercurial weaponthe knuckleball.
Knuckler is the story of how a struggling position player bet his future on a fickle pitch that would define his career. The pitch may drive hitters crazy, but how does the pitcher stay sane? The moment Wakefield adopted the knuckleball, his career sought to answer that question. With the Red Sox, Wakefield began to master his pitch only to find himself on the mound in 2003 for one of the worst post-season losses in history, followed the next year by one of the most vindicating of championships. Even now, as Wakefield battles, we see the twists and turns of a major league career pushed to its ultimate extreme.
A remarkable story of one players success despite being the exception to every rule, Knuckler is also a lively meditation on the dancing pitch, its history, its mystique, and all the ironies it brings to bear.
About the Author
TIM WAKEFIELD has pitched for the Red Sox since 1995 and has won two World Series. Noted for his charitable contributions off the field, he has been nominatedandnbsp;seven times for the Roberto Clemente Award.
TONY MASSAROTTI is a nationally recognized sports columnist and the author of theNew York TimesBestsellerBig Papi(with David Ortiz).
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