Daily Archives: March 29, 2006

March 29, 2006

Book Review: Tom Browning’s Tales from the Reds Dugout

Tom Browning's Tales from the Reds Dugout by Tom Browning with Dann Stupp
Sports Publishing LLC
ISBN 1-59670-046-7
US $19.95

Tales from the DugoutTales from the Dugout is a series of very short vignettes from the life of Tom Browning. And I mean really short. I think that one of them is only a paragraph long. There isn't a single two-page spread in the whole thing that doesn't include a heading to denote a new section, and I think that one of the most challenging parts of putting together this tome must have been coming up with the text for all the subheads. Which is really a shame, because I wasn't very far into the book at all before I was skipping the subheads entirely. The chunky format is perfect for the bathroom but a little too choppy for the armchair.

As a person who's followed the team and the sport for only about six years, I had a little trouble keeping all of the names straight, especially when Browning started referring to players and coaches by their nicknames. I imagine most people likely to pick up this book wouldn't have any trouble with that part. Nevertheless, if you plan to give this book to the newly initiated, making a handy quick reference card with the names, nicknames, bio information, historical significance, and perhaps a full-color sketch of the characters would most surely be appreciated by the recipient.

The book starts off slowly. It has a lot of summary about Browning's childhood in Wyoming that's short on dialog and descriptive language. Tom Browning, a baseball player, created this book in collaboration with Dann Stupp, a creative services manager for the Reds who, in his bio, lists his SABR membership before his journalism degree. Reading through the first few chapters, I couldn't help but think that despite the fact that this book had two authors, it really could have used a writer.

But starting around chapter four, The Brink of the Bigs, the book started to change my mind. The only perfect game in Reds' history, the 1990 wire-to-wire season, the fall of Pete Rose--these are such compelling stories that it doesn't really matter how they're told. But in this case the telling makes the stories shine. Browning's voice is warm and personal. There's not a hint of the jaded been there, done that that you might expect; Browning's inner child is alive and well and still a Reds' fan.

Browning has been hanging with the team this spring. He's one of the veterans that owner Bob Castellini has brought in as part of the Power of Tradition drum he's beating. And some parts of the book come off like Browning's direct advice to the 2006 team. Consider his assessment of the 1990 team from page 136:

Other teams may have scored more runs, but we seemed to score them when they mattered most….And I can't think of a team deeper or more balanced than our squad.

As in so many cases, just learning about the characters involved in a story makes the story more relevant. Finding out how much Browning respected Lou Piniella made me more intrigued by the possibility of bringing him back as manager. Learning about Pete Rose made me more sympathetic to his plight and what he did to baseball. Reading first case accounts of interactions with Marge Schott made me generally more horrified. And, apparently, reading about Bip Roberts (recipient of the B.I.P Body In Pain award for his regular complaints about minor ailments) has made me feel more melodramatic.

But my stoic side liked the book too. It's a quick, entertaining read, and having it on your shelf (or back of the commode) will demonstrate to all your houseguests the depth of your Reds fandom. Add in those full-color sketches, and no one in the tri-state area will doubt your Power of Tradition.

The good people at Sports Publishing LLC would like you to know that Tales is available for $19.95 from:

  • At major chain and independent bookstores (Borders, Barnes&Nobel, Waldenbooks, etc.)
  • By calling Sports Publishing toll-free 24-hours-a-day at 1-877-424-BOOK in the continental US (217-363-2072 outside the continental US)
  • Online at www.SportsPublishingLLC.com

P.S. When the movie version comes out, allow me to recommend David Denman for the leading role.

March 29, 2006

So Where’s Weathers?

Admittedly I haven't been to all of the games the Reds have played since I've been here. The haul out to the Twins' stadium was just too long and the idea of going to Winter Haven was just to nauseating, but I've been to a lot of games.

In all those games, I've seen David Weathers only twice. And one of those was his start against the Blue Jays. Alternately, I've seen Mercker plenty of times.

Is Weathers falling out of favor? Have I just not seen many opportunities for a right-handed closer candidate? Then I saw a story in Louisville's Journal-Courier.com. Sorry, I can't find the link, but the quote was:

“I've asked him [his son] about retiring and what he thinks about it,” Weathers said. “Before it was like, `No, dad, I just want to go to the field and play with you.' But I think he's getting to that age where he wants me around a lot more and coaching his Little League team and all that. It's getting me closer.”

Could be a good opportunity for Belisle, Coffey, and Wags, I reckon. One of them starts demonstrating some veteran leadership, and the closer job might just be all his.

March 29, 2006

Winding Down

It's Wednesday evening, and I'm sitting outside the Tropical Breeze Resort & Spa, taking advantage of their Wi-Fi. I started out over at the Daiquiri Deck, but when they couldn't find a table for a party of one even though the dining room was half empty and turned the gawd-awful music in the bar from 3 to 8 while I was waiting, I realized it just wasn't meant to be. Girlfriend needs a little peace and quiet for her blogging.

This is way better anyway. There are quite the characters walking by on the sidewalks, and so instead of catching up on the game wraps that I am behind on again, I'm taking a moment to tell you about it.

A rather top-heavy woman just jugged, I mean, jogged by with about 10% of her total body area covered in Spandex. I barely restrained the urge to do a slack-jawed double take, though I did sneak a peek when she jogged back the other direction later. I've seen lots of skin since I've been here, shown some of it too, but she was taking it to a new level.

Not long after her a man in Spandex rode by on his bicycle, thankfully significantly more covered by his attire. Bulging out of it, but at least covered by it.

An olive green VW Bus just turned the corner, coughing smoke. Not saying from where.

A middle-aged married couple just walked out into the road in front of oncoming traffic. (People do this all the time here, by the way. There are signs posted all over the place admonishing drivers that if they don't yield the right-of-way, they'll be faced with a $118.50 fine. Apparently the $118 fine just wasn't getting the message across.)

Anyway, they yelled back to the half-dozen adolescent boys following them who also ran out in the middle of the road to cross the street. Over a white t-shirt trimmed in sequins, the woman wore a pink cardigan, also decked out in sequins. Seriously, are sequins ever in style outside of a cocktail party or the seventh grade?

An elderly couple is making their way past me as I type this. The man is moving with the aid of a walker and just stopped short to tell his wife, “My pants are falling down.” He then stood there while she slowly made her way around him and hitched them up for him.

A bus (the public transit kind, not the smokey VW kind) just dropped someone off at The Beach Club across the street. The bus system here is called SCAT, which just wouldn't have made me snicker before internet porn made every fetish known to every person who did a Google search. I very much look forward to the Google hits I get off this post, in fact.

So you can tell that Siesta Village in Sarasota is really a happening place. And if you find yourself in the area of the Tropical Breeze Resort and Spa before I head for home after the game on Saturday, bring some of that VW Bus action over my way.

March 29, 2006

Reds Option 3 To Louisville

While our lovely and talented hostess, RHM, is in Sarasota hobnobbing with celebrities, soakin' up those nice warm rays, and groovin' to the music of Bronson Arroyo, somebody's gotta keep the news on this here weblog up to date. Therefore, without further delay:

P Brian Shackelford, IF William Bergolla, and IF Matt Kata have been optioned to Louisville today.

No surprises here. Shackelford never seemed to find command of his pitches all spring. Narron's harped about command all spring, so the writing's been on the wall for Brian, and now it's been his undoing. Kata came to the organization too late to have any real shot at making the parent club. Bergolla was destined for Louisville all along, but had to play in a game first - you can't option a guy when he's hurt, and Bergolla had the high groin sprain since February.

I see that the Marlins released former Red Lenny Harris today. If Krivsky signs him to a minor league contract, I'm going to explode.

- HMZ -