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Book Review: "The 10 Commandments Of Baseball"

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Later this morning, I'll have the game thread posted for the Cubs/Rockies game at Tucson; in the meantime, check out this interesting new book.

Larry Norris is a Chicago-area man with a vision: he has started a small, niche publishing company called Sporting Chance Press, which is going to publish sports and baseball related books that don't get the chance from the larger publishing houses, for various reasons, and to share sports lessons that can be used elsewhere in our lives.

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The company's first effort is by J. D. Thorne, an attorney from Milwaukee who played college baseball at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960's. He first ran across the "commandments", which were put forth by Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy in the 1920's, in a restaurant run by former major leaguer Bill Zuber in Homestead, Iowa.

Some of the commandments seem somewhat dated, witness #2: "You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder." -- this sounds like something Dusty Baker might say, right? -- but many of them can help us in life lessons as well, such as #7 ("Always run them out. You never can tell."), #8 ("Never quit.") and #9 ("Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.").

Thorne deftly weaves in both baseball stories and stories from his own life and the lives of his family in showing how we can apply McCarthy's lessons as we go through living today. Despite some annoying typos (Curt Schilling's name is spelled "Shilling" throughout), I enjoyed this book and Thorne's "positive thinking" message is one that each and every one of us can use, especially in today's trying times.

Before I tell you how you can get this book, a word about Joe McCarthy. McCarthy managed the Cubs from 1926-1930, having five winning seasons and winning the 1929 pennant (and that team may have had the best shot of any post-1908 team of winning the World Series, had they not blown a couple of leads and gotten tricked by Connie Mack when he started 35-year-old Howard Ehmke in game 1, rather than one of his star pitchers, after Ehmke had scouted the Cubs diligently at the end of the season). After a down year in 1930, McCarthy was dismissed. What a mistake -- one of the biggest in the history of the franchise. McCarthy was immediately hired by the Yankees and won eight pennants and seven World Series between 1932 and 1943, and nearly took the Red Sox to the Series in 1948 (they lost the first pennant playoff). If only the Cubs had followed McCarthy's third commandment, "If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven't done much today." -- maybe they'd have kept him and had some of the success the Yankees did (McCarthy's Yankees beat the Cubs in the World Series twice, in 1932 and 1938).

You can get this book only at the Sporting Chance Press website, as for now the publisher, based in Crystal Lake, wants to start small. If you happen to be in Cooperstown, the book has also been chosen to be sold at the Hall of Fame Gift Shop (though not in their online store).

It's a nice, fun read and maybe you'll learn something, too.