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Summer Reading

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While the rest of you were watching or listening to the latest debacle, today's 8-7 Cub loss to the Brewers, I was sitting by the Atlantic Ocean finishing the two books I wanted to read this week.

So instead of reviewing the latest Corey Patterson Fiasco -- for that you can read Ross' hilarious play in two parts on the sidebar -- let me tell you about my summer reading.

"Omaha Blues" is the memoir of a retired New York Times reporter and editor named Joseph Lelyveld. I came across this book in sort of a roundabout way -- my dad gave it to me, and he got interested in it because many years ago (no, I'm not going to tell you how many) he was in summer camp in upstate New York, and Lelyveld's father Arthur was his camp counselor.

Arthur Lelyveld is a major character in this book, influencing his three sons' lives in a myriad of ways, and it's in that way more than just a memoir, it's a tale of how many young Jewish kids grew up in the 1940's and 1950's. The most interesting part, oddly enough, was to read how both father and son wound up being involved in something that's been much in the news in recent days -- the trial of Edgar Ray Killen in Mississippi, for the killings of three young civil rights workers in 1964 -- Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. Arthur Lelyveld, who was a rabbi and very much a crusader for social justice, had spoken at one of the memorial services for Goodman, and had later gone to Mississippi himself, for which he wound up beaten with a tire iron.

For that alone, this book is worth reading, to see how each and every one of us seems interconnected.

I also finished Gene Wojciechowski's Cubs Nation, the chronicle of what was supposed to be the Cubs' championship season of 2004. It gives short summaries of each game, and then a longer piece which sometimes is related to the game in question, sometimes not. Wojciechowski introduces us to players, broadcasters, ground crew, trainers, and fans. It tends to be somewhat disjointed as a result, as it jumps from topic to topic. But as the month of September goes on, Wojciechowski (you have no idea how difficult it is to type that name over and over!) captures the sense of a sinking ship that we all felt during that awful final week.

The book's a good read -- it has some fascinating facts, such as Wojcie... (I give up, I don't want to type it any more) using his laser binoculars to measure the distance from home plate to the scoreboard as 507 feet. There are some odd fact-checking problems that never should have happened (calling ex-Cub pitcher Dickie Noles "Knowles", and referring to Scott McClain's Japanese team as the Seibu Tigers -- they're the Seibu Lions. But if you really want to relive last year, you should read it. Check that. You should read it anyway, because none of us really wants to relive last year, now do we?

About the game, the fourth in a row I followed mainly by boxscore, I have only two things to say:

  • Without Derrek Lee, we'd be talking about 2006 already.
  • Corey Patterson really, really, really needs to either sit on the bench for a week, to agree to go to Iowa, or to have a brain and heart transplant, because leading him off is just a really, really bad idea, and since we now know it was Corey's idea, clearly he has lost his mind. FOUR strikeouts in the leadoff spot? How is this helping?
OK, I'm done. The Cubs actually did what I'd hoped they would do in Milwaukee -- split the four games. Unfortunately, coming off the sweep by the Yankees, that wasn't good enough. Now, winning two of three from the White Sox this weekend is imperative. I'll be in enemy territory at the Cell tomorrow.

Till then.