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LSmith "L. Smith" RSS Feed (Upstate New York)

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Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball's First Family
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball's First Family
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $13.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Typical memoir by an athlete, May 28, 2016
Bret Boone made history when he was called up to the Major Leagues by the Seattle Mariners in the 1992 season. His grandfather Ray Boone and his father Bob Boone also played in the Major Leagues, so his call-up made the Boones the first family to have three generations of players in the Major Leagues. Bret shares his stories of his trip through the major leagues, some family memories and his life after playing baseball in this memoir.

It reads much like a typical sports memoir with early childhood memories, the adventures of high school, college and minor league baseball on the way to the majors, insight into the life of a major league player and what he has done after he had to make the painful decision that he could no longer play the game. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if a reader is looking to find out more information on this family that has produced three generations of big leaguers, it doesn’t contain a lot of stories on Ray or Bob Boone. There are a few, mainly what was passed down to Bret, but from the title, one might expect more about father and grandfather.

Instead, there is a lot of information about Bret that he shares. The style of writing is also typical of a sports memoir, complete with jock talk, some locker room hijinks and a lot of the confidence that Bret had in his quest to make it to the major leagues. This isn’t to say that there is not much information on the family – in fact, one of my favorite lines comes when his younger brother Aaron is also called up to the majors, saying that in June 1997, “…the Reds promoted a skinny punk of a backup infielder, Aaron Boone, from Triple A to the majors.” Sounds like some loving brotherly talk.

The book also sheds some insight from Bret Boone’s point of view about the rising use of statistical analysis in the game, performance enhancing drugs, the 1994 strike that wiped out that year’s World Series (Bret was very active in the player’s union) and some other historical moments. One of the better baseball chapters was when he recalled the 2001 season for the Seattle Mariners. He was a member of that team who set the current record for most wins during the regular season at 116.

Overall, this is a fun book to read and I admit I did try to find a reason not to enjoy it when I realized that it would be mostly about Bret and not very much about his father and grandfather. Nonetheless, I did finish it and I am glad I did. Recommended for readers who enjoy sports memoirs.

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seduced by 2: A Sexy Ménage à Trois Romance Between Best Friends (A Best Friends to Lovers Romance Novella Book 1)
Seduced by 2: A Sexy Ménage à Trois Romance Between Best Friends (A Best Friends to Lovers Romance Novella Book 1)
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't read for literary purposes...., May 23, 2016
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This short novella doesn't have a great plot or doesn't have well developed characters or heavy emotion. What it DOES have is an extended sex scene with two men and a woman and that's it. It is meant to arouse the reader and it does that really well. This is a scene that doesn't read like it belongs in a men's magazine but instead it is a good sex story that leaves the reader hot, bothered and ready for more (or a shower).

50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball
50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball
by Rocco Constantino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $33.86
25 used & new from $33.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different type of list, May 23, 2016
Through the myriad of books that contain lists of the top events or moments of any sport, this book was a refreshing change in that many of the moments listed were not ones that one would expect. This compilation of great moments in baseball history by Rocco Constantino has a bit of everything, but also some unexpected candidates that made it into the book as well.

The first chapter, which lists the first games played by some of the greatest players, lets the reader know that this list will be a little different. Those players included Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Derek Jeter. There are also moments and games listed for the immortal players in the game such as Ted Williams, tragic incidents such as J. R. Richard of the Houston Astros suffering a stroke while pitching. This variation makes the book a very interesting one to read.

The reader does have to read the book carefully in order to get the complete picture of the event or moment that is described. Each one, with the exception of chapter 6 when several greats of the game describe who or what was their inspiration to excel in the game (the best chapter in my opinion), will have a date at the beginning of the passage. However, there may be a lot of other information about the player before or after the date listed. Without reading the passage carefully, the reader may get confused about when the true moment took place, as happened to me while reading. This was easily overcome as the book progressed.

This book is recommended for any baseball fan who wishes to learn more about important events in the sport. The short passages make it a good choice for readers who prefer to read the book in bits and pieces. The unusual choices and reasoning behind them will make those who like to debate about such things discuss them even further. It is one of those books that one can keep after reading for later reference. It is one that would be a good addition to one’s baseball book library.

I wish to thank Mr. Constantino for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977–78 Dodgers
Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977–78 Dodgers
by Michael Fallon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book on the Los Angeles Dodgers, May 18, 2016
The Los Angeles Dodgers of the late 1970’s came close to winning two championships but fell in consecutive years to the New York Yankees in the World Series. They were a team that was comprised of mostly homegrown players who stuck together through some tough seasons before finding success in 1977 and 1978. They also epitomized the culture of their home city with many people looking for a carefree, easier life on the beach in the land of Hollywood. This connection between the city and its baseball team is illustrated in this terrific book by Michael Fallon.

While the bulk of the material is about the two seasons in which the Dodgers won the National League pennant, it does not read like a typical book about a team’s adventures during a season. The personal accounts of several players (Bob Welch, Glenn Burke, Steve Garvey and Rick Monday just to name a few) as well as the new manager of the team, Tommy Lasorda, give the reader an inside look at the team.

The writing about the baseball itself is very entertaining. There are many comparisons between the baseball and some of the events that were going on in the city at that time. One example that I thought was particularly entertaining was Fallon’s description of the match-up for the 1977 World Series. Most of the buzz that year from Hollywood was for the movie “Star Wars.” Fallon compared the World Series participants to characters from the movie with the Dodgers playing the part of Obi Wan Kenobi (good) and the Yankees as Darth Vader (evil). That single line was just perfect for describing the mood of the time in both baseball and pop culture.

Other issues affecting Los Angeles such as Mayor Bradley bidding for the 1984 Summer Olympics, the passage of tax-cutting Proposition 13 and the murders of the Hillside Strangler are also included as well as the culture of the times, such as the rise of the adult entertainment industry in the region. Interspersing these items into the writing about the Dodgers’ travails on and off the field makes for fascinating reading that illustrates that the team was a true reflection of its city.

This book is recommended not only for baseball fans but also for readers who are interested in social history or who want to learn more about the culture of Los Angeles during that time. With excellent writing, interesting stories and terrific coverage of the 1977 and 1978 seasons for the Dodgers, the book is one that should be added to many readers’ libraries.

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team
The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team
by Ben Lindbergh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.75
50 used & new from $14.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on building a baseball team, May 14, 2016
Building his or her own real baseball team is a dream for many fantasy baseball players. For two editors of Baseball Prospectus (the current and former editors), that dream becomes a reality when they were allowed to run the baseball operations of the Sonoma Stompers of an independent league in California. The adventures of Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller running this team during the 2015 season are captured in this excellent book.

Given their occupations and obsession with statistical analysis, the duo tries to assemble the roster completely through their spreadsheets (even calling some of their prospects “spreadsheet guys”) but soon come to realize that some old-fashioned scouting and legwork will work as well. The comparisons to Moneyball are inevitable and they actually provide some of the more entertaining passages from the book. For example, one of the funniest lines of the book states that “if the A’s were a ‘collection of misfit toys,’ as Micheal Lewis wrote, then we’ll be building a team out of toys that got recalled because they were choke hazards.” I was in tears after reading that line.

Some of the passages are also more serious or even poignant such as some of the exchanges between Sam and/or Ben and the players or the manager. When trying hard to sell a strategy such as a defensive shift or using a closer for more than just the ninth inning, the guys realize that there has to be some trust in the instincts and knowledge of baseball men like the manager and scouts. There is a lot of compromise on these types of conflicts throughout the Stompers’ season.

This format is a winner for the book as it is one that anyone who is a baseball fan, whether a stat geek or an old-school believer; casual fan or addicted seamhead, young or old, should add to his or her baseball library. It will entertain, inform and delight all readers of baseball books.

I wish to thank Henry Holt and Company Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to the Show: A Mickey Tussler Novel, Book 3 (The Mickey Tussler Series)
Welcome to the Show: A Mickey Tussler Novel, Book 3 (The Mickey Tussler Series)
Price: $8.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book in the Mickey Tussler series, April 29, 2016
In this third book of the Mickey Tussler series, Mickey now finds himself pitching in the major leagues for the Boston Braves. His manager (who is also now his stepfather) Arthur Murphy and catcher Lester are also employed by the 1950 Braves and the story of their adventures in the National League is the best of the three stories about the young autistic pitcher.

Nappi writes with flowing grace no matter which particular topic is being addressed. Whether it’s Mickey throwing his fastball with pinpoint accuracy, his budding romance with Jolene, the sister of a Braves teammate, or some of the poignant exchanges between Muphy and Molly, his wife and Mickey’s mother, the reader will be gripped in the emotions of the moment.

The reader will also feel a strong connection with the characters in this story. Of course, those who have read the previous two stories already have had that attachment with Mickey, Molly, Murph and Lester, but it continues with the introduction of Jolene. Having suffered rejection by a parent during her childhood like Mickey, her character is the perfect match for Mickey and their conversations and budding relationship made for the best passages of the book.

Which isn’t to say that the baseball writing is bad – these parts are just as good as they are in the first two segments. Using real players from the 1950 season but taking liberties with actual baseball history, it was fun to read about the ups and downs of the Braves as they progress through the season. No spoilers to tell how the season ends, but how the young pitcher, his grizzled manager and level-headed catcher handle the adventures of the campaign will enthrall any baseball fan.

With great storytelling, a tender romantic story and some life lessons along the way, “Welcome to the Show” is a terrific read while following Mickey’s baseball career. His story is one of the best literary series of books I have read.

I wish to thank Mr. Nappi for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Impact Player: Leaving a Lasting Legacy On and Off the Field
Impact Player: Leaving a Lasting Legacy On and Off the Field
by David Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.87
77 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good memoir by a beloved Yankee, April 16, 2016
The great New York Yankee teams of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s had many legendary players such as Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. While his statistics may not be quite as impressive as these Hall of Fame player, Bobby Richardson was an important member of these teams as well as the second baseman for several years before he retired after the 1966 season. He writes about his life on the Yankees and also about his Christian faith in this breezy memoir.

The book is an easy read and Richardson concentrates on his years with the Yankees in the bulk of the text. While his faith is important for all aspects of his life, he never writes too much about it until the end when his teammate Mickey Mantle made the decision to become a Christian just before his death in 1995. That is the closest the book comes to being more about faith than baseball. Otherwise, Richardson writes in the same way he spoke about his faith while a Yankee. He “…shared my faith in simplicity as a friend. That’s exactly what I always hoped to do.” Without him overtly stating it, the reader will realize how much Richardson’s faith affected his family life and his baseball career.

I felt that his stories about his teammates and his experiences with the Yankees were very good. There isn’t a lot of great detail in any particular teammate or season, but enough to be informative and entertaining. I enjoyed his account of his famous catch of Willie McCovey’s line drive to end game 7 of the 1962 World Series. It has gone through many different versions over the years, but in Richardson’s mind, it was a simple catch of a sharply hit line drive. That is just one of the many great Yankee stories in the book that fans of baseball in that era, especially Yankee fans, will enjoy in this book. It can easily be read in one sitting and will leave the reader smiling when he or she closes the cover.

Hairs vs. Squares: The Mustache Gang, the Big Red Machine, and the Tumultuous Summer of '72
Hairs vs. Squares: The Mustache Gang, the Big Red Machine, and the Tumultuous Summer of '72
by Ed Gruver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.45
37 used & new from $17.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book on the 1972 baseball season, April 13, 2016
1972 was a year filled with many newsworthy events in sports, politics, culture and music. The baseball season that year mirrored the rest of the world with its unusual course. From the first player’s strike that wiped out the first two weeks of the season to an exciting postseason that was capped off by the closest World Series in history, the 1972 baseball season is captured in this book by Ed Gruver

The best analogy for the book is that reading this book is like watching a ball game that looks like it will be a good one because of the starting pitchers, it starts out to not live up to expectations, but gets better in the late innings, capped off by a great finish.

When I saw this book offered for review, the subject really excited me as this was the start of the dynasty of one of the best teams outside of New York in baseball history. This was the year that the Oakland Athletics won the second of their five consecutive division titles and first of three consecutive World Series.

After a great opening chapter, the writing in the book felt choppy and hard to follow. For example, when the author was writing about the strike that delayed the start of the 1972 season, the topics jumped all over the place. At one point, there was more talk about the near-walkout by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 than there was about the 1972 strike issues. Still, I kept reading as the research was good (although there was one notable error about Dick Allen and the Phillies) and there was still a lot of material to cover.

As the season wore on, the baseball and the reading got better. Gruver’s account of that year’s all-star game was excellent. The excerpts from the broadcast of the game added to his text. This was something Gruver did regularly throughout the book – a nice touch. Of course, most of the material covered the teams that ended up winning their respective divisions – Oakland, Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. However, unlike many other books on baseball seasons that I have read, Gruver covered notable achievements by players on other teams that did not win the divisions. He mentions Nolan Ryan’s strikeouts for the Angels, Rod Carew winning the batting title without hitting a home run for the Twins, and even the Montreal Expos giving their fans some excitement when Bill Stoneman threw a no-hitter.

But the best writing of the book and best baseball of 1972 was the postseason. Both of the League Championship Series had great games and Gruver covered those in good detail, including the bat throwing incident of game two between the Athletics and Tigers. This part of the book and the season is capped off by a thrilling seven game World Series between the Athletics and Reds. That series featured six games decided by one run, including game seven. The stories of these games were just as exciting to read about 44 years later as they were to watch as an 11-year-old kid on TV that fall. If there was any doubt about this book’s quality, that chapter alone made it worth the time to read. If a reader enjoys books that recap a season, this one on the 1972 season is one that comes recommended to add to the library.

I wish to thank the University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Fishdom: Deep Dive
Fishdom: Deep Dive
Price: $0.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very fun game, April 4, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fishdom: Deep Dive (App)
This is a fun game in which the player builds an aquarium and acquires fish for it by solving puzzles. Moving three or more of the same type of sea-themed objects such as sea shells or starfish will help the player solve the puzzle and acquire coins to buy the items. Very addicting game and alternates easy and difficult puzzles so players of all abilities will enjoy it.

XL7-The Story of Xavier Lysten
XL7-The Story of Xavier Lysten
by Luther Guin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.99
25 used & new from $6.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Good fictional book on a troubled football star, April 4, 2016
It isn’t often that a superstar athlete who has made some poor decisions in his life will be able to be a sympathetic figure, whether in a fictional story or in real life. However, this novel about a fictional football quarterback named Xavier Lysten manages to make the reader experience many highs and lows a football player can experience, both on and off the field.

Xavier is and isn’t a typical superstar athlete. On one hand, he takes in all the adulation he receives in high school while not only becoming the team’s quarterback but also dabbles with alcohol. On the other hand, he forgoes a national powerhouse college football program and commits to a local college that plays one level below, something not expected for highly recruited quarterbacks. The same give and take occurs during his college and professional career – he is talented enough to earn many chances, despite the fact that his drinking has cost him a suspension from his college team and even landed him in prison during his professional career.

While reading the story, told from Xavier’s point of view, the reader will experience every emotion that Xavier goes through, from the locker room to the field to his struggles with family members – including two marriages. Everything happens so fast in this story and he gets so many chances that the reader may have a difficult time keeping up with all the events in his life. However, the reader may at times forget that Xavier is a fictional character because it feels very real.

This includes the action on the field as well. The author writes these scenes with authority, whether it is during practice, in the locker room or during the games. Whether it is during his career in high school, college football at the University of Central Arkansas or his professional career with the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, the reader will be taken through the seasons with a feel of authenticity. The only aspect that feels truly fictional is how many times Xavier gets in trouble because of his drinking and yet when he is done with his punishment, he is welcomed back to the game with open arms.
This is a book that is recommended not only for football fans, but also for readers who enjoy stories of a second chance (or in Xavier’s case, third and fourth as well). It is a fast, enjoyable read that is a very good debut novel for Luther Guin.

I wish to thank Mr. Guin for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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