I just received a copy of The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball by USS Mariner blogger Derek Zumsteg. Derek also runs a blog just for the book here. I’ve only had time to flip through it, but I like what I see so far.
As a Braves fan, I first checked to make sure he devoted some time to the evil 1991 Minnesota Twins. This team won the World Series by cranking up the AC to give Kirby Puckett a tainted home run off of Charlie Leibrandt. Zumsteg covers this, but misses the most egregious incident of that series: Kent Hrbek pushing Ron Gant off the bag to get an out. The play was so obvious that Hrbek couldn’t even keep a straight face when later describing the play. I remember one of my good friends was a Twins fan who had a Wheaties box with the Twins celebrating their “victory.” Wheaties?…more like Cheaties. Ok, maybe I’m not that mad about it.
As for Braves cheating, Zumsteg reminds us of the team’s manipulation of the catcher’s box to make the strike zone seem larger than it was. The fact was actually pointed out by the TBS television crew. There is no doubt that those guys root for the Braves, but they are not partisan when it comes to commenting on the game. The organization then classlessly booted the broadcast team off of the team charter. One unnamed source was also quoted as saying “Mazzone sucks” three times.
I look forward to sitting down with the book for a full read very soon. It looks to be an enjoyable read.
This book also makes me want to play one of those weird connection games. Every time I see the name Derek I think of my high school job recording high school sports scores for The Charlotte Observer. One thing I learned from fielding calls from all over the Carolinas is that there are more ways to spell Derek than any other name. My time at The Observer brings me to another connection to an author with a baseball book out right now. Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star writer and current author of The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America also worked for The Observer at the same time I was there, though I did not learn this until recently. I bet few in that newsroom would have pegged us as future authors…well, maybe Joe, but certainly not me. Although, I was very good at spelling Derek, Derick, Darek, Daryc….
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