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.)
"An absorbing read. Feinstein takes a pair of opinionated veterans and picks their brains all season about the art of pitching, also relying on the thoughts of teammates, coaches, managers and families to present well-rounded, intimate portraits....What makes the book so engaging is that each pitcher faced adversity during the season, creating unexpected drama that helped give an edge to Feinstein's narrative....Another excellent story, told by one of sports' best storytellers."
PRAISE FOR AMERICA
'S FAVORITE SPORTSWRITER:
"Feinstein is the most successful sportswriter in America....He has the girt of re-creating events known to us all while infusing them with excitement, even suspense."--Jay Nordlinger, Wall Street Journal
"As always, Feinstein guides readers into a world with which fans have only surface familiarity, revealing in the process multiple substrata of nuance and meaning. Baseball fans who read this wonderful book will come away with a deeper understanding of the game in addition to having encountered a pair of fascinating men who just happen to play a game for a living."--Booklist (starred review)
PRAISE FOR LIVING ON THE BLACK:
"Feinstein achieves a double play fans should savor for its scrupulous look at what life is like for the 21st-century major leaguer."--Erik Spanberg
, Christian Science Monitor
"When Feinstein gets [Glavine and Mussina] talking about the art of pitching, the book comes alive."--David Hinckley, New York Daily News
"One of the best sportswriters alive."--Larry King, USA Today
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
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.
Pitchers are at the heart of baseball. Each has the potential to make his team a winner or, very quickly, a loser. The pressure is huge. In the end, only those with both the arm and the heart and the ability to manage extraordinary stress will emerge as champions.
John Feinstein looks into this complex side of the game through the events of one nerve-racking season and through the eyes of two great pitchers trying to perform at the highest possible level in the twilight of their careers in the biggest media fishbowl in America. Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina have seen it all in the Major Leagues, remarkable highs and heartbreaking lows. Both entered the 2007 season in search of individual milestones and one more shot at the World Series--Glavine with the Mets, Mussina a few miles and one borough away with the Yankees. Despite their proximity, they experienced very different seasons--one pitching for a team dealing with the pressure of trying to qualify for the World Series for the first time in seven years; the other with a legendary team, expected to be there every year.
Feinstein captures the rollercoaster that was the 2007 season for both teams through the experiences of two pitchers at the center of it all. John Feinstein provides a true insider's look into the most intensely watched and scrutinized position in sports-Major League starting pitcher.
About the Author
John Feinstein is the bestselling author of Tales from Q School
, Last Dance
, Next Man Up
, Let Me Tell You a Story (with Red Auerbach), Caddy for Life
, The Punch, The Last Amateurs, The Majors, A Good Walk Spoiled, A Civil War, A Season on the Brink, Play Ball, Hard Courts
, and three sports mystery novels for young readers. He writes for The Washington Post, Washington Post.com
, and Golf Digest
, and is a regular commentator on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."