Archive for the Books tag


Can I Keep My Jersey?

Mike No Comment

I usually make it a point to mention when I finish a book. It’s probably nothing to most people, but it happens so rarely for me, I like to keep track. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a reader. In fact, that post I mentioned that the book I just finished was coming out, Paul Shirley’s Can I Keep My Jersey? A month after that post I finished Moneyball in about a month. A definite record for me, which I forgot all about. A few things got in the way reading Can I Keep My Jersey? Mostly life, and there was another book I read in there, but that one isn’t really worth discussing. So while how good a book is has some part in how long it takes me to finish it, what’s going on in my life really is the dominant factor. I say that because taking forever to finish this one may be a bad sign. It isn’t a bad sign, as I said, other things were going on. I really enjoyed this one.

In case you haven’t heard of Paul Shirley, he’s a basketball player. He’s good enough for it to be his primary occupation. The book, Can I Keep My Jersey?, recounts 4 years of his basketball life as he played for 11 teams in 5 different countries. In fact, that’s the subtitle: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond. He has a lot to say about everyone involved in the game, from players and coaches to management. A lot of interesting commentary about what goes on behind the scenes.

The entire is him recounting his experiences, sort of like a diary or writing home from the road. It’s written in a very familiar way and makes you feel like he’s really letting you get to know him.

It’s really interesting to see how, even though he gets to play basketball for a living, life isn’t perfect. He has to travel the world to find a job. While some places are nice to visit, many places you don’t want to spend more than 20 minutes in. Not every team in the world is based in a wonderful city. Also, not every team has the finances of an NBA team so traveling and lodging on the road is almost always a good time.

I think a common comment about Paul Shirley is that he’s someone you’d want to hang out with. I mean, why not, he played in the NBA and he seems normal. Two things concern me about him: he might complain more that I do, I don’t need complaint encouragement, and we disagree greatly on his musical tastes. I think we could get past that.

He currently does a weekly podcast with his brother called Off Topic with Matt and Paul Shirley.

That’s all for my book report today. Wagers on when the next one will be? I should point out I had some books on CD and an audible account for a few months. So I listened to Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (which I should really talk about soon, it was excellent) and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I’m almost done with Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell and have her newest book, The Wordy Shipmates, loaded on the iPhone and ready to go. I’m also open to suggestions from the crowd.



Books, Sports No Comment

I finished a book! Always a big deal around these parts. As you know, I’m not a reader. I’m going to try and keep pace with finishing a book around the same time as each no-hitter this season.

I read Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Took less than a month. That should be an indication of how much I liked it.

I know the book has been out for a few years. Its been on my self for almost that long. After I finished my last book the next one I had planned to read, Can I Keep My Jersey? had not yet arrived. So I decided to pick up Moneyball. As soon as I started it I was hooked.

I’ve been a fan of the A’s because of the way they run their team. Not spending a lot but winning every year. I follow a team that spends quite a bit and hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years. The A’s always seem to be able to restock with talent they’ve grown themselves. It isn’t all that complicated to see how they’ve done it.

I’m also a fan of statistical analysis. I’ve always kept a close eye on stats. When I was little I would beg for any stat book I saw, especially Bill James. I was always behind on them because I had to wait until the next year when they only cost $1.

The book does a great job of giving you an in-depth look at Billy Beane (the A’s GM) and a couple of the key players. He takes a look at each part of the game and how they are judged completely wrong. It doesn’t take a genius to realize there is more than batting average and that RBIs are a meaningless stat.

The amazing thing is how this all makes complete sense, yet its still so over looked in baseball. If you are running a baseball team everything that is in this book should have already been figured out on your own. Apparently even after reading it people still haven’t been convinced.

This all goes a long way to explain why the Phillies are run so poorly. Our drafting is pretty terrible, we make bad signings, and make poor decisions during games. Its not surprising that Pat Gillick is even mentioned at the end of the book because he said he refused to ever read it. Not really a surprise.

If you haven’t read Moneyball yet and are a baseball fan then I’m guessing you are like me. You heard about the book but you didn’t bother to read it. You heard the general concept and figured that was all you needed to know. You were going to read it but then realized it was a book and you don’t read books. I say go ahead and read it. It didn’t hurt me one bit. In fact, I wanted to keep reading it.

Now its on to Can I Keep My Jersey? I actually already started it, Paul Shirley is pretty great.


I’m not what you’d call a reader

Life No Comment

Of books at least. I actually read constantly: Web sites, blogs, newspapers, magazines. Just to actually be a ‘reader’ you are supposed to read books. It’s not that I don’t like books, they are just time consuming. I have a long list of things I’d rather occupy my time with. I also don’t read the book if there was a movie made from it. Spare me your ‘the book is always better than the movie’ speech. The amount of time it would take is not worth that little extra goodness.

I just don’t have the time. I did a lot better when I had no job and had plenty of free time in my day. Since I started working I haven’t read much at all. I have a growing pile of books that I’d really like to read. When I come home from work I usually read all my web sites and then settle in front of the TV to watch sports, a DVD, or catching up with my DVR.

I did actually finish a book this weekend. It was started somewhere around a year ago. I’d read a chunk and not get back to it for months at a time. I should really keep track of that next time. It was Naked by David Sedaris. So it wasn’t really something plot driven. I could go those months and not need to remember anything before picking it back up. I read his most recent book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim really quickly. It was back when I did have that free time. It was also so enjoyable that it moved up through the ranks of thinks that I’d like to use my time to do. Naked wasn’t quite as good (though it was still excellent) and I had many more distractions. I’d have to put him as my favorite author outside of politics and sports.

I decided to finish it this weekend for two reasons. First, on Tuesday Paul Shirley’s book comes out: Can I Keep My Jersey? I’m really excited about that one because I’ve enjoyed his ESPN (link to his most recent journal)/MySpace (you may have to be friends with him) blog entries so much. Second, I saw that David Sedaris is going to be performing here in October and that reminded me to finish the book. I’m getting tickets this week for that appearance. How an author performs and how its worth $40, I’m not sure. I first remember seeing him on Letterman a few years ago and he actually read from his book from a podium on the show. Just like a band or comedian would do. I thought that was pretty cool and it made me start reading his stuff. He always sells out when he comes to town so he must be good.