Books [Dave] Read This [Month]

Ever since finishing school, the desire to read for pleasure has never fully hit me. While Kristen sometimes plows through 2-3 books a week, I am lucky if I manage that many in a year. This past month was a little different though. I still can't compete with Kristen, but I did end up finished two books, which is good enough for me to temporarily commandeer her position as the blog's literary critic.

And Then There Were None // Agatha Christie

I'm fairly certain I read And Then There Were None in junior high, but had forgotten everything other than the basic premise of 10 strangers on an island getting killed off one by one. In recent years I have brought the book along on many trips with the intention of re-reading it, but have just never cracked it open. A few weeks ago, as Kristen was in the midst of one of her reading binges, I was bored enough that I finally dove in.

The first 100 pages or so are a little slow given the copious setup (or maybe my reading skills were just a little rusty). But once the remaining guests begin to realize the first few deaths weren't accidental, and they are all at the mercy of a madman, the story kicks into high gear. As characters get knocked off at an increasingly rapid rate, it becomes impossible to put down. This is the quintessential mystery novel.

The Yankee Years // Joe Torre & Tom Verducci

When The Yankee Years debuted earlier this year, it garnered a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. "Torre Slams A-Rod in Tell-All Book" blah blah blah. Basically it was marketed on the basis of a few so-called controversial passages. This rubbed me the wrong way, so I didn't immediately seek it out. The manufactured controversy has long since died down by now, so I figured it was time.

What the book does offer is an honest and open look at the rise and fall of the Yankee dynasty during Joe Torre’s 12 year stint as manager. The Yankee Years adequately recaps the championship teams from 1996-2001, but Buster Olney's The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty remains the definitive book on that era. Where The Yankee Years excels is in illustrating why the Yankees have failed to win it all since losing their core of unselfish, hard working players at the turn of the millenium. I appreciate learning the full stories behind the headlines—stories that were only hinted at, or well-masked by the patented cliché-speak of professional athletes. It is also interesting to examine key factors that drastically changed the game in these 12 critical years, from the rapid rise of steroids, to the increasing implementation of statistical analysis (which emerged in part as way for smaller market teams to compete with the financial juggernaut Yankees).

Most of all though, the book served as a guided tour through 12 years of my life. As key games were recounted, I would immediately remember specifics of when and where I watched them. In 1996, I witnessed the Yankees win the first championship of my lifetime in the basement of Cami Oliekan's house, and had to threaten to punch my friend Marc for acting obnoxious and ruining the moment. My freshman year at Utah State I enjoyed the dominating 1998 team crush all October competition. I let out shouts of joy in the Rich Hall commons area during the improbable back-to-back comeback wins in the 2001 World Series. I had just started dating Kristen a month before the nerve-wracking game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, won on Aaron Boone's walk off homerun in the 11th inning. Not all these memories were positive ones though, such as the eventual game 7 loss to the Diamondbacks in 2001, and losing sleep during the week long, gut wrenching collapse against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS.

The last truly great Yankee moment, courtesy of Aaron Boone in the 2003 ALCS.

1 comment:

Ben said...

You know, as bad as getting swept this weekend stunk, it'll never be worse than the greatest choke in the history of sports. Thanks for the pick-me-up!