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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have to admit that I was a little skeptical upon beginning this book, expecting another team-focused book that would be all sunshine and positives without providing any depth. Fortunately that was not the case, and instead the authors have provided an insightful look into the assembling of that staff while providing great insight into the pitchers themselves.

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.
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on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
Like the 2011 Phillies, this book could have been so much more. It turns out, however, that Zolecki and Salisbury don't write any better when they're not on deadline. It's a great read if you prefer reportage on clubhouse hijinks and rookie hazing rather than in-depth analysis of each of the pitchers' actual craft and repertoire. Each of the 'Big Four' is given an introductory background profile, which is useful enough in tracking the specifics of their careers, but very little effort is made to get into these players' heads, to show how they actually succeed within the games themselves. We are able to glean insight into their workout regimens and pre-game preparations, but that's as far as it goes.

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.
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on March 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This helped me get through a very snowy winter with dreams of championships dancing in my head. This book contains the greatest quote I've ever read....

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??"
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on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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. Definitely recommend this book to all Phillies fans as well as anyone who is a fan of professional baseball.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The 2011 season is still fresh in the minds of Philadelphia Phillies fans. Perhaps baseball's best rotation ever of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt (along with fifth starters Joe Blanton and Vance Worley) compiled a team-record 102 wins. And, although the Phillies were favored to make it to the World Series, they were upset by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. Having Halladay pitch the decisive Game 5 in Citizens Bank Park seemed to be the perfect setup. The Cardinals, however, plated a run in the first inning and went on to beat the Phillies, 1-0, behind a three-hitter by Chris Carpenter. What a disappointing finish to a great season.

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. Certainly, the Phillies rotation was the best since the Atlanta Braves staff of the mid-1990s that featured Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.

Authors Salisbury and Zolecki cover all the developments of the 2011 season in this well-written book. Phillies fans will find this book interesting, but I think baseball fans who didn't follow the Phillies on a day-to-day basis will find it even more interesting.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a must read for Phillies fans. A good review of the 2011 season and many funny bits about the players and Charlie. Loved it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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.
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on March 31, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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.
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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
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. Halladay has 201 wins and is fading fast with recent surgical work. Oswalt has 163 wins(hardly noteworthy)and is unlikely to ever pitch in the majors again and Lee a meager 131 wins. Too early to tell, but if you are 34 and only have 131 wins, odds on making it to 200 are slim, especially when you have been struggling lately. This is a homer assessment of a staff that had one good year, it happens sometimes when the planets align. The idea that this was the Greatest Rotation Ever Assembled is ludicrous and only exists somewhere in a dingy, deluded corner pub in Philly. Apologies to Mssrs. Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz.
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