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Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball Hardcover – March 14, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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What would otherwise be a light narrative on life as a major leaguer--with opinions thrown in on various baseball issues of the day--is suddenly serious reading when the author is Mike Schmidt, a Hall-of-Fame third-baseman and one of the best to play the game. Although Schmidt backs off the statement he made on HBO last summer about steroid use--he would have used them, he said then, if they had been available when he played--readers of this volume will appreciate how Schmidt's drive to succeed might have led him to performance-enhancing drugs. Schmidt offers thoughtful opinions on home-run records broken in the steroid era (no asterisks, but view them with clarity), on Pete Rose (ban from managing, but admit into the Hall of Fame), on selecting players for the Hall (use a panel of Hall members for their seasoned input), and on the finer points of playing and managing the game. There are some good anecdotes on teammates, too. Recommended for its ongoing discussion of baseball's concerns and because it's Mike Schmidt doing the talking. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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The peerless third baseman’s honest examination of his own career in particular and of major league baseball in general. (Library Journal)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060854995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060854997
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,240,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William C. Kashatus on March 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mike Schmidt's most recent book, "Clearing the Bases," offers a wonderful prescription for the troubled state of baseball today. Instead of bashing the game, Schmidt takes a hard, candid look at such issues and steriod-inflated slugging records, Pete Rose's on-going challenge to be admitted to Cooperstown, hitter-friendly parks, free agency's impact of player-team loyalty, and what ittakes to manage in the pros today.

While his solutions may not please the baseball purist, they are carefully thought-out and reasonable. On the issue of steroids, for example, Schmidt admits to understanding the temptation for players to "gain an edge" in order to remain "at the top of their game." But he believes that he would not take steroids if he were playing today. As for the record books? Baseball must take into consideration the context of the time in which these records were set. While steroids should not be tolerated in the game, baseball cannot justifiably eliminate slugging records simply because a player was suspected of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Nor should a "suspect" be eliminated from Hall of FAme consideration. These are strong sentiments from a Hall of Fame slugger whose own records have been broken in the steroid era.

What sets this book aside from other prescriptive tomes is Schmidt's earnest desire to approach each of these difficult issues from the standpoint of a former player, minor league manager, parent, and, now, fan. Thus, his judgements are informed by "all sides" of the debate.

This is a wonderful book, judiciously told by one of baseball's greatest stars. In that sense, "Clearing the Bases" represents Schmitty's 549th life-time dinger.
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Format: Hardcover
As a general rule autobiographies are pretty valuable things. They allow the great and the notorious to reflect on a noteworthy life, and they allow us to peek over their shoulder while they do so. When the author is perceptive enough, or the events of their lives of enduring interest, the world is likely to be graced with a classic. Athletes' autobiographies tend not to fall into that category. Athletes are usually reactive rather than reflexive, and most of our curiosity about them can be satisfied by a perusal of the box score or the record book. There are exceptions - the books by Jim Brosnan and Jim Bouton being the most notable - they're as substantial as peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

So, with modest expectations, I read Mike Schmidt's `Clearing the Bases.' Even the unwieldy subtitle (Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, etc., etc.) didn't fool me none. Putting the word `juice' in the title of a baseball book nowadays guarantees at least 10% higher sales, and anyway the endless subtitle adds a certain swagger. Schmidt was an All-Star third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1970s and 80s, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and considered by many the greatest third baseman in the history of the game. If Schmidt doesn't surprise and delight or swagger all that much past the title page, he doesn't necessarily disappoint, either. The awestruck first venture into a major league clubhouse is duly noted, as are the streaks and slumps, World Series' wins and losses are all dutifully catalogued, recalled rather than recreated.
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Format: Hardcover
I was never a particular fan of Mike Schmidt in his playing days, mind you, I did not have negative feelings about him either. He was one of those superstars that went about his way, playing the game extremely well but without being flashy. Schmidt caught my attention in his post-playing days for sticking by Pete Rose (one of the few) and that always gets your attention in Cincinnati. It was primarily based on that reason that I picked up this book, what did Schmidt have to say about Rose, and other 'hot potatoes' in baseball?

"Clearing the Bases" (201 pages) starts off tentatively in the first half, where Schmidt recounts his days growing up a Reds fan in Dayton, OH, and eventually becoming a superstar in Philadelphia. But the second half of the book is where things really take off, and where Schmidt spouts his thoughts on the hot topics in baseball. "Look, if I had played in the 1990s, I would have considered using steroids" (since it wasn't illegal then, but eventually stating that he wouldn't have). He lays the blame also squarely on the Commisioner and the players' union: "Did they ever bother to compare trading card pictures of guys in, say, 1993 with their cards in 1999?"

Schmidt also makes a convincing argument that with the many changing circumstances since his playing days (new hitter-friendly ballparks, changes in the make-up of bats, etc.), he would've averaged 50 homers a year instead of the mid-30s in his playing days. As to Pete Rose, Schmidt clearly is disappointed in both Rose's handling in the matter (not forthcoming, etc.) as well as the Commissioner's (not getting back to Rose after the November, 2002 private confession, 14 months before Rose published his tell-all book).

In all, this is a much better book than I expected.
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