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Bats Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1987
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From Publishers Weekly
Even to ardent Met fans, a book about the team's second-place finish in 1985 might seem not worth bothering with, but that would be making a mistake. Probaby no better volume has ever been written about a baseball team's season from the viewpoint of an intelligent and sensitive manager. Wherever he has been the skipper, Johnson's teams have finished better than predicted, and that was the case in 1985 as well. Here, aided by Golenbock (The Bronx Zoo, Balls, Johnson tells what it was like to run a team plagued by injuries, a team made up largely of young players who needed to be encouraged, a team that had almostbut not quiteenough talent to be the best. He writes of his enthusiasm for his players, especially Gooden, Carter and Hernandez; his travails with the media; and, above all, his cornering the market on Rolaids. A grand baseball book.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Because of its limited focus, this book is likely to appeal only to rabid Mets fans, and to those interested in learning what goes in a manager's head as he makes all the day-to-day decisions required of him. One aspect of this that Johnson dwells on is how you as a manager nurse along a young ballplayer. Davey's special project in this regard was his young third-baseman Howard Johnson. Davey writes a lot about the importance of putting a young player in situations in which he can succeed, and keeping him out of situations with the potential for failure. You show confidence in a player as much as you can, because that is what allows the player to build up confidence in himself.
The descriptions Davey presents give us a good feel for the different ballplayers he managed; you sense Gary Carter's boyish enthusiasm, the intensity of Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra's scrappiness, and so on. Each player needs to be treated differently based on the needs of that player, and a good manager learns that art. Several principles, however, are universal, like the need to be straight with each player by telling him what his role is, the need to treat everybody as men instead of boys, and the need to not burden the team with a bunch of rules.
One theme which runs throughout the book is the prevalence of injuries. We fans know about injuries which cause a player to be placed on the disabled list; however, that is just the tip of the iceberg. At any one time Davey had injuries to seemingly half his roster to deal with, little nagging injuries that affect his decisions of whom to play that day.
I enjoyed this book because I am a big baseball fan, but I can only give it three stars because there are so many other baseball books which are of greater value and interest to the average fan.
They say that no one remembers who finishes second. I would like to change that and say we should remember who comes in second if they should come in first the following year. Which is what the Mets did. With this viewpoint in mind, one would and should take a look at Davey Johnson's season long account of the year before the year of the legendary 86 team.
Within Bats is a look at what Johnson saw, felt, and thought while he maintains a rocky relationship with Frank Cashen, the general manager, develops a heavy dependence on Rolaids, and issues one hundred and two hundred dollar fines to players for base running mistakes and showing up late to the ballpark. He talks about what he did to get the job and how he handled his players; Keith Hernandez talking in the third person and like a kid when he points out a good accomplishment to Johnson "did you in see Mex hit that home run?", Doug Sisk, with his inconsistent pitching performances, gets the most mentions in the book, , and his prediction about Dwight Gooden pitching a perfect game in the future (he does, but for the Yankees in 1996).
Probably taken from a daily journal, the book is very autobiographical and provides a pretty well rounded look at Johnson, the man and manager. Being only in my early twenties, I was only four and five and too young to understand the Mets of the Eighties in the same way I came to understand and love the Mets of the Nineties (the hard decade that it was) and, of course, the 2000's. Having got Bats, I feel closer to my favorite sport franchise and caught up in terms of history.
Did you know that the 85 Mets passed up two opportunities to re-acquire the great Tom Seaver?
Before I got Bats, I read Jeff Pearlman's, The Bad Guys Won, about the 1986 Mets. For the intellectually curious Met fan or any baseball fan, I would recommend both books as great holiday gifts. I would recommend Dwight Gooden's Heat as the great stocking stuffer as well.