- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Broadway; 1st edition (April 4, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767904656
- ISBN-13: 978-0767904650
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 88 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,817,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball Hardcover – April 4, 2000
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This isn't a commentator's diatribe against the sport, but rather a fan's case for baseball. What do I want? I think the same thing that most baseball fans want: To see the game prove worthy of our devotion.
Bob Costas loves baseball. And he's worried about the state of the game--superstar players abandoning the teams that helped them rise to greatness, the awkward interleague play system, the pennant-race-weakening wild cards, and the payroll disparity that effectively eliminates two-thirds of the teams in the league from having any chance to win the World Series--even before opening day. Costas addresses these problems and offers provocative solutions in Fair Ball.
Costas makes it clear from the outset that he's not a romantic, baseball-should-be-played-in-flannel traditionalist; indeed, some of his ideas--comprehensive revenue sharing and salary caps and floors--will be seen as radical by many team owners and players. Others are more standard--no more wild card, and farewell to the DH--but all are thoughtful and cogently argued.
Throughout Fair Ball Costas's affection for the national pastime softens his occasionally strident tone. Ultimately, all baseball fans want the same thing; Costas's ideas, if adopted, would go a long way toward returning the game to full health. --Sunny Delaney
From Publishers Weekly
Costas isn't the first announcer to write a manifesto on what's wrong with baseball, nor is he the only person to think the game's soul has been debased by hyper-escalating salaries, bonehead revisions to the league and shortsighted owners toeing the bottom line. But he is one of the more persuasive and eloquent. Costas firmly grasps the game's economics, and he marshals mounds of evidence and countless wise insights to show why the sport needs revenue sharing, a salary cap and a salary minimum to restore competitive balance. Next, he dissects other gimmicks of 1990s baseball, such as interleague play, the wild card, the oft-proposed radical realignment. Thankfully, Costas never sits back and says, "It was better when...." Instead, he carefully shows that these gimmicks have been implemented poorly, that they've achieved nothing they were supposed to and that they've instead made pennant races obsolete. In the last frame, Costas briefly pushes a few more hot buttons--umpire oversight, Pete Rose, the DH--and offers what may prove his most controversial opinion: he advocates using instant replay during the playoffs. Throughout, Costas remains evenhanded. If he blames most of the game's problems on the owners, he's no less critical of the superstars and their union lackeys, who, he argues, care more for a few huge paychecks than all the guys making minimum. Author tour. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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But unlike Mike Lupica's mad, mindless manure spreading in "Mad As Hell," Costas aims facts and proposed solutions at baseball's hard numbers: on the schedule (his criticism of interleague play) at the gate (everything from a proposed revenue sharing plan to the constant between inning noise; he cites the Montreal Expos' and Texas Rangers' star-crossed, strike-shortened seasons as examples), on TV (the disastrous "Baseball Network," wild card folly destroying September pennant game-by-game tension), World Series games starting too late for younger fans and peppered with commercial messages. His description of 1997's Marlins-Indians World Series accurately descibes how interminable and unapproachable the game had become in less than a decade.
Costas outlines his plan to address baseball's large and small, money and image issues: Pete Rose's Hall of Fame induction (he favors it while strongly opposing that gambling that got Rose suspended) the DH (he opposes it despite its extending the careers of stars like Eddie Murray) radical, georgaphical realignment (a disaster still discussed but earlier dismissed).
Costas' book is welcome because, unlike more emotional stories like David Halberstam's "October 1964" or Lupica's "Summer of 98" (both chronicling World Series which changed baseball's image) you don't smell the green grass and hear the bat crack. "Fair Ball" is the work not of a baseball poet (Costas' writing is broadcast-tight, although more charts and graphs would have made his revenue sharing plan more accessible ). Costas here is a baseball doctor diagnosing a decade's baseball owner obesity and union player gluttony, prescribing diet and weight redistribution.
Bob Costas' book is recommended reading for fans, those they cheer for (everyone should read Chapter Three, "The Nature of Sports Leagues," among the most accurate descriptions of player perks and pressures), and all deriving employment, profit or pleasure from the national pastime.