Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sprinting to catch up on the Best of 2011


The past three Novembers have blurred into a mad race to finish as many baseball books as I can before compiling my list of the best of the year for Baseball America. I finished Glenn Stout’s Fenway 1912 over the weekend and immediately jumped into Dan Barry’s Bottom of the 33rd and George Vecsey’s Stan Musial.

Inevitably, some worthy contender will be left out. There’s only so much time. But I try like heck to get through as many as I can. I got bogged down earlier in the year reading some non-candidates. I like to review a wide mix of books, and some are clearly not in the running but get read anyway. Which seems fine in July, but I pay for it later in the year.

Overall, I have to rank this year’s crop of baseball books lower than last year’s. I can think of several 2010 titles that didn’t make the top 10 that would easily slot onto this year’s list. Joseph Wallace’s novel Diamond Ruby, Dave Jamieson’s Mint Condition, James Hirsch’s Willie Mays, and Timothy Gay’s Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert all were deserving candidates that missed the cut last year.

There were a ton of great biographies released in 2010. I could almost have compiled a top 10 of just biographies. The only one that’s really done a lot for me so far this year has been Neil Lanctot’s Campy, about Roy Campanella. The Musial book is getting better, but the first 30 pages seemed to do little more than lecture the current generation for not appreciating Musial more. That’s a turn off, man.

What’s the best new baseball book you’ve read this year? Any strong contenders in your eyes?

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