a public service, and to avoid the needlessly expensive task of buying all of
the current works on the Phillies' triumph, here's the scoop on this
year's crop of World Series Books… if you can buy only one, buy "Worth the
Wait" (Triumph Books; ISBN 978-1-60078-273-2) by Jayson Stark. (Of course, I
won't mind if you also buy "The Breaks Even Out and Midnight Comes Quickly
for Cinderella.") Without having read the rest of the entries in the field, in
fact, without having to read the rest of the entries in the field, I'm here to
tell you that "Worth the Wait" is not only the best of breed, but it's
also… worth the wait.
is that? There are a couple of reasons. First, if you're a Phillies fan, or in
any way shape or form interested in the Phillies, then Jayson is your man…
even though he's been writing for ESPN.com
(and appearing on various ESPN shows as well) for the past nine years. You see,
Jayson started out at the Philadelphia
Inquirer, oh, back about 1979, where he covered the Phillies and
served as the Inky's national baseball writer. To this day, no one is better
connected to the Phillies' organization, even to the point of using such
ex-Phillie greats as Doug Glanville and Larry Andersen as virtually exclusive
he's a native Philadelphian, who still lives in the Philly suburbs, and who
has a better feel for his fellow Brotherly Lovers and the city than anyone
who's stopped by the Liberty Bell (which was cast by a relative of former
Athletic great Harry Stovey) since Ben Franklin. Rumor has it that he can recite
the address of every top cheesesteak place (including "Dela's" on Henry
Avenue) in the metro area. So, he knows Philly and Philly sports.
during his stint in his hometown he developed his signature style, his schtick,
if you will. His "Notes" column, better known as Rumblings and Grumblings,
and his own unique look at baseball's numbers, the Useless Information
Department. Now beloved by legions of internet surfers, Rumblings and Grumblings
and Useless Information have been the trademark of as entertaining a baseball
writer as Philly has seen since the days of Charles Dryden.
recap… he knows
his book is a winner, too. The title doesn't refer to the length of time it
took to produce the book -- publisher Triumph Books (www.triumphbooks.com)
is famous for quick turnarounds and bringing out timely books like this. And, it
doesn't refer to how long Jayson's readers had to wait since his last book.
"The Stark Truth" came out to much acclaim last year. No, showing a true
understanding of Philly sports fans, the title pays homage to the wait since
1983, when the Sixers won the NBA title. In another sense, of more significance
to baseball fans, it's been even longer since 1980. Twenty-eight years is a
long time to wait, in that it is a quantifiable time that many, many individuals
can (and have) suffered through. It's not the same as the Cubs' famous
100-year drought… there are very few Cubs fans left who can expound at length
on the glories of Three Finger Brown and Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance. But there
are legions of Phillies fans who saw Michael Jack Schmidt rip that eighth inning
double off of Dan Quisenberry in game two, saw Pete Rose grab that pop-up that
bounced out of Bob Boone's glove, and saw Tug McGraw leap off the mound after
throwing a Peggy Lee fastball past Willie Wilson. Jayson Stark, although he was
a working sportswriter for the Inquirer at the time, was one of them.
"Worth the Wait" delves into the mind, the very being, of the
Phillies – his Phillies – were heading for the parade floats… After a
quarter-century of waiting for a team like this to end their torment, that team
had finally arrived. This team. Jimmy Rollins' team."
back several times throughout the book to J-Roll, Stark uses him to help tell a
story bigger than a single game, or even a single World Series. It's the story
for years, had been the team these people had the least faith in. So how amazing
was it that this was the team that had finally set them free… When something
like this happens, this is not a
sports story. This is a life story."
life story Stark tells is largely drawn from his 2008 ESPN.com
columns. However, since he wrote enough during the year to fill several books,
it took some very skillful editing to produce a book that, as the subtitle says
tells "Tales of the 2008 Phillies." Starting with his Nostradamus imitation
written during Spring Training (on Feb. 29, 2008… a day that only comes up
once every four years), wherein he quotes Rollins at length (including his
now-famous 100-win prediction) and refers to him as the Phillies'
MVP/psychology major, Stark takes the reader through the key moments of the 2008
season, featuring, in Part 2, the "Five Moments That Defined a Season." In
case you're wondering, they are; manager Charlie Manuel benching that same
Jimmy Rollins for not running out a pop up, Brett Myers taking a trip to the
minor leagues, the late August sweep of the Dodgers, the four-game mid-September
sweep of the Brewers that cost Ned Yost his job, and the National League East
clincher, wherein Rollins and Chase Utley turned one of the great clutch double
plays in history. Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance indeed.
3, 4 and 5 of "Worth the Wait" give an inside look of the three tiers of the
postseason. Read it for yourself, it's worth the wait. But, don't forget to
also stop and peruse another feature of this book that is so typically Jayson
Stark. At the end of every write-up of every single game of the NLDS, the NLCS
and the World Series, he gives us, that's right, an installment of Useless
Information (like the famous six-day wait between games in the 1911 World Series
between the A's and the Giants.)
leave the final word on "Worth the Wait" to Geoff Jenkins, who Stark quotes
in the final line of the book.
"When you win, it's forever. It's forever, man. And that's a great feeling."