1. A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez by Selena Roberts
This was an engrossing read. Clemens is in the title and on the cover, but he is not the only one whose dirty laundry is aired within the pages. The back stories of unsavory characters like Brian McNamee, Kirk Radomski, Jason Grimsley, Rusty Hardin and many others are intended to give the reader a sense of just how deeply steroids dug into both baseball and the well-being of the steroids dealers and their associates themselves.
After wading through the muck of a couple of scandal-based books, this was a nice change of pace. Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and the immortal Ted Williams were four men who were clearly destined to be together. This recollection of decades-old stories frames the tragic motivation for their compilation: the imminent death of the Splendid Splinter in Florida. No mention of the cryogenic freezing, though. Probably for the best.
A definitive history of the first dynasty I vividly remember as told by its ringmaster. The stories are straightforward: the book starts the week Torre is hired and ends when he refuses to take the Yanks' diminished offer. Lots of in-depth interviews with Torre's players also make this a very vivid story. My personal favorites were David Cone and the Captain, Derek Derek Jeter Jeter.
The book that started it all. I saw it in hardcover on a bargain rack at Barnes and Noble for $6 and gobbled it up immediately. If you already hate Barry Bonds, this book will thoroughly satisfy you. Victor Conte and his BALCO cronies don't come off any sweeter; slimier would be an appropriate word.
In addition to winning the "Most Intriguing Title" award, this skinny Dollar Tree find is very Japanese: succinct, honorable, modest, and interestingly translated. Maybe it's just because the author is a close personal friend of Godzilla's, but Matsui is essentially beatified throughout as the most honorable Japanese man in America.
Another Dollar Tree pick-up. I remember the firestorm when this book first came out: A pro athlete coming out of the closet? I bought it specifically to see how he handled being in the SLC during his tank job with the Jazz. (He blames it entirely on not meshing with Jerry Sloan's abrasive coaching style. The lesson: Don't let large, sensitive, gay British men near Jerry Sloan. He will single-handedly force them to average 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game...or less.)
My first Feinstein, which is a Dollar Tree find from nearly two years ago now. Not the smoothest read, but I was amazed that Feinstein could get over 350 pages out of a vicious blow that landed in less than a second. It is a study in contrast: Rudy T's rise to prominence as the Rockets' head coach, and Kermit Washington's fall from grace that has reverberated in his inability to both find an NBA head coaching job and maintain his marriage.
I bought this from a bargain pile in the BYU Bookstore about two years ago and just now got around to it. I wish I had gotten to it sooner. The book vividly reminded me of the small Texas towns I served in during my mission. The human element in the machine that is Permian High football (and, really, Texas high school football as a whole) is at times heroic and at times tragic. A fascinating study of a small town's struggles to fulfill big-time aspirations.
This was a Wal-Mart $4 purchase. I don't know why I've been so intrigued with the blending of race and sports, but this book is a nice blend of the two. Plus, it's getting me excited for the impending college football season. As I said with Feinstein earlier, I am constantly amazed that writers can get so much material out of just one game or one moment.