Book Review: "This Bad Day In Yankees History"

The "Building A Cubs Champion" series will continue next week... on the weekend, I thought we could all use some diversion.

I hate the Yankees.

Well, who doesn't, you're saying. Except for those born and raised as Yankee fans (and a certain senator from New York who adopted them for political expedience, and that's not a political comment, it's a baseball fan's comment about someone born and raised a Cubs fan who switched just to pander for votes), pretty much every baseball fan hates the Yankees and their fans for their arrogant and corporate attitude, the blowhard owner they've had over the last 35 years, and the constant winning.

Oh, wait. That last part? The winning? If it happened to us, I think we could deal with it.

Anyway, if you hate the Yankees, "This Bad Day In Yankees History" is for you. Spiral-bound so you can use it as a perpetual calendar, it contains negative events for the haughty Bronx team for every day of the calendar year, even February 29; on Leap Year Day in 1924, we learn that:

For the second straight year, Babe Ruth is felled by influenza during spring training, a serious matter only six years after an epidemic killed roughly 50 million people worldwide. It is his fourth influenza attack, but he'll recover and save his real health crisis for 1925.

The entire book is filled with gems such as this one from July 29, 1991:

The night begins with Yankee Stadium fans chanting at Jose Canseco about steroids and Madonna. All hell breaks loose in the eighth inning, when someone throws a blow-up doll at him. A barrage of debris follows, along with fights in the stands as fans attack the security guards trying to bust the litterers. So it goes in the Bronx Zoo.

You can read about a Yankee loss each day of the baseball season and about Yankee draft follies, including, in 1978, the Yankees passing on Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Kent Hrbek, Mike Boddicker, Steve Bedrosian, Kirk Gibson, Bob Horner and Dave Stieb, despite having three first-round picks.

The introduction is written by former Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee, who was once quoted as saying, "The other day they asked me about mandatory drug testing. I said I believed in drug testing a long time ago. All through the sixties I tested everything."

And that's the spirit in which this fun book, written by fellow Colgate graduate Gabriel Schechter (class of 1973; I met him at last summer's reunion), who grew up a Mets fan (no wonder he hates the Yankees!) and who now works as a full-time researcher at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He sent me a review copy of the book via Media Mail -- which, if you've ever used it, is cheaper but takes longer -- on October 1, with a note enclosed, dated that day, that read in part:

I'm rooting for the Cubs as this post-season begins. Cubs fans deserve the thrill of winning a title. Good luck to them, and to you.

Oh, well, Get the book anyway. Tons of fun, especially with the Yankees appearing, at the end of 2008, to be entering a period of decline. You can find out more and buy it at his site, Never Too Much Baseball.

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