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The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled Paperback – March 6, 2012
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J.B. Library Journal
"…a breath of fresh air for Philadelphia fans and beyond."
“Authors Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki have written a can’t-put-down story of the 2011 Phillies filled with insight, inside knowledge of the club’s history and overall knowledge of the game that even non-Phillies fans will enjoy reading.
“… most likely had been written with a much different ending in mind, but it manages to somehow make you forget about the ending and enjoy the historic pitching milestones of the regular season…. The real highlights of the book come in the behind the scenes accounts of how Lee came to the team (both times) and their long pursuit of Roy Halladay. …This section is worth the price of the book alone…. The blow-by-blow account of the unexpected deal that brought Cliff Lee back to Philadelphia is captivating and a must read for any Phillies fan.”
“The book, penned by a pair of long-time Phillies' beat writers, does an excellent job of explaining how each of the Phillies Fab Five reached the big leagues. It also does a great job of taking the reader into the front office to detail contract negotiations, trades and the other moves that were needed to bring the rotation together. All of this makes for an excellent read. It's the kind of detail, scouting stories and back-room negotiations that diehard baseball fans like Baseball America readers, love.”
About the Author
Todd Zolecki covers the Phillies for MLB.com. Previously, he served as the Phillies beat reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer for nine years. The National Sportswriters Association named him Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year in 2008. He lives in Philadelphia.
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Top Customer Reviews
The structure of the book works well. The authors provide chapters on each of the big four (Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt) as well as a chapter on the possible fifth guys (Blanton, Worley) before reviewing the season chronologically in a month-per-chapter format. The chapters on the individual pitchers are, to me, the best part of the book because we get to learn about their motivation for coming to the Phillies, their work habits, and some of their personalities. It's clear that the authors admire the work habits of a pitcher like Halladay, but I appreciated that they didn't leave out issues like Hamels' bar fight during his early years, or the tough negotiations and temporary hard feelings between Lee and the ballclub. Including things that some might construe as negative just gives the book more credibility.
We all know how the season ended for the Phils, but that doesn't make the review of the season any less enjoyable. It's a credit to the authors that they can make a season review interesting, again by including details that go well beyond the boxscores. There's no shortage of books focusing on one team or one particular season, but among that group this one is a standout. I'm a Jays fan, and I couldn't put this book down. I would recommend this to any fan of the modern game, Phillies fan or not.
High school pitching coach "Cole, we want you to walk this guy to get to their weak hitter."
Cole "Can't I just hit him??"
The one notable strength of the text is an excellent, involved account of how Cliff Lee ended up leaving and coming back to the Phillies in successive off-seasons. After the introductions, the book really becomes more about the '11 Phillies (with frequent digressions pertaining to teams and players long past) than the 'Rotation' itself. The authors don't stray much beyond their beat writer mentalities, typically giving only the facts without the 'why' or 'how' elements. You can expect to read "Cole Hamels pitched a masterful two-hit shutout on August 22" without the slightest glimmer of detail outlining what made him so effective in that particular game; there are virtually no interviews with opposing hitters who have faced the pitchers. Too often, this is a lightweight book which could have been far more interesting in more capable hands.
Veteran sportswriters Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki do a great job of portraying the Big Four, the fifth starter and the supporting cast while chronicling the season. The portraits cover the first 100 or so pages, while the season, beginning in spring training, is detailed in 130 pages.
While much of the story is familiar to die-hard Phillies fans, Salisbury and Zolecki manage to add some interesting behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes. Perhaps the most interesting section of the book deals with the complicated negotiations and maneuvering to sign Cliff Lee after having sent him to Seattle. I also had forgotten about the controversy of S.F. Giants manager Bruce Bochy pitching Halladay and Lee each more than one inning in the All-Star Game while resting his starters.
The chapter, "One of the Best," details the many superlatives of The Rotation and seeks to rank them among the greatest pitching staffs ever. The starters compiled an ERA of 2.86, the best in all of baseball since 1985.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A book to read for any Phillies fan. Helps us remember the good times of being on top of the baseball world. Well written and very easy to read.Published 10 months ago by Dylan Quantz
This is a laughable concept. Oswalt, Lee and Halladay the "Greatest Pitching Staff ever assembled. It's unlikely that any of these guys will even make the HOF. Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by Billreef
This is an excellent written book. Although I am a avid Phillies fan, I have been introduced to so may more facts that I was unaware of. Read morePublished on September 27, 2012 by Tony from Philly
Zo and Jim do a great job telling the behind-the-scenes stories most fans don't know. This was a great read for any Phillies fan.Published on April 10, 2012 by Patrick Carney