Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

The Game From Where I Stand by Doug Glanville

May 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Author Profile, Book Review

Doug Glanville, ex-Major League player for the Phillies, Cubs, and Rangers, has penned a new book —  The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View.  Glanville was an outfielder for 9+ seasons in the big leagues and, with the exception of 1999 when he batted .325, enjoyed a good, if not spectacular, career (.277 BA).  However, Glanville’s keen observations of the game, brought out vividly in his new book, are far more impressive.

Glanville was raised in Teaneck, NJ, a diverse and inclusive neighborhood, by parents who taught him respect and integrity.  This upbringing gives Glanville a unique vantage point from which to view his baseball experience.  It enabled him to deal effectively (if not perfectly) to the celebrity and spoils that come with being a Major Leaguer and to move on to see the game for what it truly is (and is not).

The Game is at its best when it brings a fresh perspective to our overheated rhetoric around PEDs.  Glanville understands the temptations that players were under and the choices they made, but doesn’t condone them.   He calls out some of baseball’s more iconic players, such as Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and Clemens but also laments that, at the time, nobody really knew who was using and who wasn’t.  In the end, he stopped short of eviscerating these superstars; instead taking the reasoned response that he would not have chosen the same road they did.

Glanville’s talent for observation also allows him to talk eloquently about baseball minutiae such as sign stealing, the process that traded veterans go through to retain their old jersey number, and baseball’s infamous kangaroo courts.  Not to worry though, these details are enjoyable and eminently entertaining.

Clubhouse justice makes everyone aware of the possible consequences of brain freezes.  Of course, there are some legends of the court who, despite extensive fines and constant trips to the docket, are just absentminded professors dresse in baseball uniforms.  These repeat offenders cannot be helped by any system of justice, but they serve the team well by providing comic relief during the marathon of a long season.

The Game is a most satisfying new entrant in a new genre of baseball books that take a humanistic, cerebral view of the game.  The Complete Game by Ron Darling and The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst are others of this ilk.  These books take a nuanced view of the “game within the game” or explore the human side of ball players.  They serve as a welcome counterpoint to the “kiss and tell” or rah, rah  pulp found in many of today’s sports books.

BooksonBaseball Rating:  Home Run (gain a new appreciation of the game’s subtleties from a keen observer and writer)

Glanville is interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air

Glanville has taken his writing chops to new media outlets as well.  He has just ended a run with the New York Times as a columnist and has recently moved to ESPN.com.   Below is an excerpt from his most recent ESPN article–on the rising, like the Phoenix, of Dback Kelly Johnson.

There are not many places hotter than Arizona in the summer. The sun is relentless. It’s not unusual for bodies to overheat and minds to suffer the kind of delirium that is an incubator for bad decision-making. Even though it was December when the Diamondbacks signed free agent Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal, many fans and pundits wondered whether the team’s front office had been in the sun too long. Were the D-backs seeing in him a figment of their imagination, an optical illusion of possibility?

I thoroughly enjoy Glanville’s writing and am looking forward to his ESPN.com column.

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