Warning, this is long, with lots of rambling, so if you are genuinely interested in the book, scroll to the bottom. :)
Well, as is no surprise, I am a baseball nut. Genuine, bona fide, authentic, old-fashioned, red-blooded, American baseball nut. I debate this to no end with people I know who insist baseball is a boring sport with absolutely no athletic value.
I hesitate to call them friends, because frankly, I have no friends who don't like baseball -- what's the point? It's like having friends that don't drink (which I do have friends like that) because I like them, they are genuinely nice people, but I always feel a little awkward having a beer around them until I get the first 8 or 10 down, and then it's a non-issue.
I digress though.
I have heard the arguments from these people that NFL players are more athletic, and that the sport of pro football is so much better. I have heard the argument that the NBA has a better product and that the athletes are much more talented. I have even had one co-worker try to tell me that MLS is a better game with much better athletes. I bludgeoned that guy to near-death with a lukewarm squash while singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".
I am always up for intellectual debate, and I am not always right. When someone has a better point, I will concede it and state my opinion on it. As Al eloquently signs on each post, it is my opinion and if you don't like it, I have others.
Football players are a special breed. You can be born with the gift of size and make a great living playing football. You may not be athletic or the brightest color in the Crayon box, but if you are naturally 6'6" and 315 pounds and can bench-press a single-wide trailer, then you can likely get a job in the NFL. If you have big hands and enjoy curling full kegs of beer in your spare time, you likely can start for a pro team.
Soccer players are no doubt, very athletic. I am not knocking soccer players, as they have an incredible amount of stamina and cardiovascular health, as do NBA players. The fellas in the NBA possess a certain amount of agility and raw talent to do what they do, and they have a skill unrivaled by other sports. But, most of them have to be tall to be considered. Talent can trump some of that, as evidenced by many short stars of the game past and present. Consider Spud Webb, Mugsy Bogues, John Stockton, and a plethora of others.
But baseball players come in all shapes and sizes. They hone their craft for several years in the farm system before they may even get a shot. There aren't any that come out of high school in the summer and go straight to the big leagues. There are some that could be close to it (Miguel Cabrera at age 20), but generally, baseball players are born with the ability and the talent, but must still refine their skill for a degree of time before they get the chance. Even at the big league level, the best can struggle, and even a smooth defensive player can not go out and consistently go 3-4 at the plate every night. Compound that with playing 5 to 6 games a week or more, and it becomes clear that these guys who play the game are skilled, talented, and physically blessed, and must maintain that for their career.
Again, I am not taking anything from other athletes in other sports, and I don't think any one is better than the other as they all put in a lot of time, sweat, and tears to be the best at their game. Personally, as a person who has been in a few scuffles at some of the best honky-tonks in the area, I have a tremendous amount of respect for boxers. I have been in fights for a few minutes, and felt like I ran a marathon, fought a grizzly bear, and tried to chop-block a slow moving freight train when it was all over. I don't care to do it anymore, and in hindsight, probably wasn't as good as it as I originally thought I was.
Boxers are in shape. Man, they do round after round of jabbing, moving, sticking, bobbing, and weaving, all while taking jabs to the face and body.
Now why am I saying all this when the diary was titled about a book? Well, in addition to creating an unbelievably long diary which no doubt has met the word minimum, I suspect that many of you here are baseball fans like me.
So, I told you all that to tell you about a new book I have. It was given to me by a coworker who is a baseball fan. Her and her husband get the season package every year and we talk baseball a lot, although she loves the Yankees. She can hold her own in a baseball conversation, and her and her husband make annual treks a couple hours south for Spring Training games every spring.
She gave me this book which some of you may have, but if you don't, let me tell you that this book is the perfect example of a coffee table book. You know, the one you throw on the table in your living room just so people will pick it up when they come over and thumb through with a half-interested look.
The book is called "Historic Ballparks - A Panoramic Vision" and it's by John Pastier.
This book is a baseball lovers dream. It starts out with a look back at the architecture of the old stadiums, and is packed with full two-page panoramic pictures of ballparks past and present. The pages about Wrigley Field are interesting, and has some information I never knew. Of course, I never took the time to learn about a lot of the old stadiums, but this book opens a new dimension of learning to me, which is in itself, odd.
So, in summary, I highly recommend it. At about 12" x 16", it may not be the most convenient to read in the bathroom, but it sure makes for a nice addition to the coffee table, and people will be more likely to believe you are a baseball fan than anything else you leave on that table, like "The History of Modern Muffin Molding" that your wife leaves there.
I have a friend that subscribes to Cigar Afficionado magazine, and The New Yorker, and he doesn't even smoke cigars and to be honest, I didn't even know that he knew how to read.
So, check it out, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.