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This Ain't Brain Surgery: How to Win the Pennant Without Losing Your Mind Hardcover – July 1, 2003

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two things set career baseballer Dierker apart: he went from broadcaster to manager with zero managing experience, and he suffered a brain seizure in the Astrodome dugout during a game. The first item gets ample coverage in the book, but surprisingly, the second does not. An accomplished major league pitcher with a no-hitter and a few all-star appearances to his credit, Dierker foreshadows his impending tragedy from the beginning, as he strikes out Willie Mays in his major league debut (also Dierker's 18th birthday), right up until the fateful day in 1999. Yet the actual event warrants barely six pages. A Hawaiian shirt-wearing party guy, Dierker clearly had no interest in writing a mawkish memoir, but the reader will nonetheless hunger for a bit more on how his horrific flirtation with death shaped his life. Dierker's prose is witty and easy-reading it is like hearing stories over a beer from the guy sitting next to you at the ballpark. But the yarns often come up short: old teammates trumpeted as "characters" come across as flat, and the book could use sharper focus: it's alternately a pitching book, a managing book, and a book about old-time baseball, when players drank beer and raised hell. After 37 years in major league baseball, Dierker undoubtedly has stories to tell, such as his teammates' first glimpse at the surreal new Astrodome in 1965. That his book isn't chock-full of them is somewhat disappointing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Dierker, a pitcher and then radio commentator for the Houston Astros, stepped out of the announcer's booth to become the Astros' manager in 1997. He "retired" (a euphemism for fired) after the 2001 season despite four of the most successful years in team history. Baseball and the Houston Astros have been Dierker's professional adult life, but unlike many baseball lifers, he has a healthy perspective about the game and his role in it, as reflected in the title of this literate, humorous, and entertaining memoir. As he recounts his tenure as manager, he splices in anecdotes from his playing days, effectively contrasting the life of the ballplayer in both eras. In the past, most baseball careers were part of an extended adolescence--a few years in the game before moving on with real life. Today's huge salaries have changed the stakes considerably: with one good contract, the financial future of a player--and a couple generations' worth of his descendants--is assured. But much of baseball's color still comes from its eccentric characters, and Dierker profiles several of them, including Doug Rader and Casey Candaele. On a more serious note, he also discusses how he coped with the big-money world of modern baseball and how he made the day-to-day decisions with which a manager is confronted. One of the best baseball books of the spring season. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074320400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743204002
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 9.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "lowergreenville" on July 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Big Dierker fan here, and bought it before it came out. The above review is correct. Very general, abstract, obtuse, lazy - whatever you prefer to call it. I'm a huge Astros fan and if there was anyone to write about them - and write well - it's Dierker. Too bad he only hints/skims at things and doesn't want to make anyone angry. I wanted anecdotes from his playing days, broadcast booth and managing in particular. Got that but nothing in depth. Maybe he doesn't want to break the code, but then why write the book? I had heard this was in the making for some time. His diary when managing was optioned but was so damning he pulled it.
Instead we get great info in passing or teased and then move on when you want alot more and know he has it. This book lacks an index and that should have told me something - he never dwells on any person for more than a paragraph.
Radar sounded hilarious. Chris Holt loser. Milo is goofy. We want more of that. We knew it but its great fodder.
All in all. I love the Wrangler. He's Mr. Astro and a very smart writer. He's a great guy and I think this was edited to keep him as the nice guy or at least not a distraction. He never mentions his nickname Wrangler. Which by the way he got by showing up as a broadcaster in spring training sporting Wrangler jeans. Not here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on August 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book that gives insight into the game that the ordinary fan would never get a chance to see. The book has sections dedicated to different aspects of the game including managing, umpires, the farm system, and more, and Larry has great stories for each one. As an Astros fan my favorite parts were the ones that talked about his dealings with some of the current and former Astros. It was interesting to read about the interactions he had with the players, and how he regarded some of the players in the clubhouse. As a player, broadcaster, and manager he witnessed enough to come up with an excellent book that makes great reading for any Astros fan, and that baseball fans in general can appreciate too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Greg Thomas on December 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I lived in the Houston during the mid-60s and the both Astros and the Astrodome were two of the most exciting elements of the city. None of that whimsy and glee is reflected in Dierker's book. You don't get a feel for the great Astro characters such as Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub or Bob Aspromonte. Sadder still is the fact that Dierker worked with the great Gene Elston in the broadcast booth for many years and Elston is seldom mentioned. The definitive Astros book is still waiting to be written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J.B. on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This sports book was very easy to read and enjoy, because the author told stories the way we like to hear them. He told about the game and its traditions, and then some of the behind the scenes stuff we love to read.
Can't wait for the next one from Larry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are an Astros fan you will love this book. If you are a baseball fan you will appreciate many of Dierker's points but will have to wade through some old Astros baseball stories. Its an easy read and worth the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Howell on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dierker takes you from the sixties to the 2002 season with a very unique view of the almost champion Houston Astros!!!! This is a very good accounting of the history of the team, Dierker's days as a player, his time as a manager, and the inner workings of the team and players of the late nineties and early 2000s!!! The book is approximately 300 pages long and the first 180 pages or so fly by as Dierker gives you rare insight into the Astros (probably the least-written about team in baseball to have won so many division titles). The book slows down as Dierker waxes nostalgic about how to deal with umpires and a few other topics, but even those topics have a refreshing, level-headed quality that make them worth your time. In short, this is a book that should be read by most every Houston Astros fan, and a very good book for those looking for real insight into the game and business of baseball without all of the ego or BS that usually fills managerial retrospectives!!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By brazos49 VINE VOICE on July 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book greatly. Larry Dierker is a very bright guy who seems to have a gift for looking at situations and seeing them from angles that other sports figures would never find. An example of this is his telling Darryl Kyle to improve his pitching by playing a lot of serious golf in the off season. He also has the capacity to be self critical in ways that appear to be quite honest. He has real writing talent, which I always enjoyed when he wrote columns for the Houston paper when he was in the broadcast booth. He comes across as a guy you'd love to tip a few with.
I like the way the book is organized, with chapters dedicated to individual baseball topics like spring training, scouts, etc. and relating Dierker's experience in the area. There's enough humor to generate plenty of smiles and enough serious stuff to let a reader get a feel for what baseball players, managers and broadcasters go through.
In my opinion, if you have any interest in baseball you should enjoy this book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan D. Polk on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Dierker's book. I met him at a book signing, and his jovial nature was enough for me to shell out the money.
I liked it. It was as if he was sitting in the broadcast booth telling stories during a rain delay. But like an actual broadcast, he was careful not to start any fires. Sure he ripped Chris Holt, and a couple of others, but he left me wanting. If you are writing a tell all, then tell all. Later I read that he optioned his journal during the first season, but pulled it back because it was too inflamatory. I would pay a bill to read that.
Early in the book, when he tells Hunsicker that Biggio and Bagwell won't be a problem and then alludes that they were in the end, I expected some follow up to that. I didn't recieve it. This was one of the most blatant gaffes in the book and I am severely disappointed.
But the book did give an insider perspective that is lacking in most, and it was cool to hear the broadcast or managerial accounts of games I attended. If you are a Astros fan like me, it's worth your time. If not, then approach hesitantly.
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