“The Cubs Way” – My 2017 Summer Baseball Read

Now that summer is officially here, it is time to introduce my annual summer baseball book. And – surprise! – it is a book about the World Champion Chicago Cubs.

Cubs-way-Verducci-2017

After browsing several of the new titles available this year on the Cubs, I decided on Tom Verducci’s The Cubs Way; The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017). Tom is the senior baseball writer for Sports Illustrated and two-time National Sportswriter of the Year (I heard tonight while watching the Detroit Tigers game for a bit that he was just awarded it a third time – for 2016). He is a gifted author and I like his style. Besides, you will also see and listen to him at the games doing analysis for Fox Sports and MLB Network. He knows the game well, and it shows in his writing.

I am enjoying The Cubs Way much, and provide you a few excerpts from it today to show you why. Describing what the 2016 World Series championship meant to the fans of Chicago, Verducci says this in the opening chapter:

Nowhere, though, would the scope of the catharsis be better understood than at the championship parade, held the day after the morning after. An estimated five million people, almost all of them in Cubs blue, would turn out for the team’s victory parade. It would look as if a seven-mile river of fountain pen ink spilled across America’s third-largest city. The crowd would be estimated to be the largest gathering of humanity ever in the Western hemisphere, and the largest in humankind’s history for any nonreligious event, though to see the rewarded faith on the faces of the supplicants was to believe something very much ecclesiastical was going on here [p.13].

In Chapter 2, “Ready for Change,” the author focuses on how new Cubs owner Tom Ricketts sought out the “perfect” man to rebuild the Cubs and restore a championship to Chicago after 100-plus years of drought. He chose Theo Epstein, the upstart stats guru who had led the Boston Red Sox to two world championships.

As Verducci writes in detail about Epstein’s rise to baseball glory, he also goes back to his childhood in New York and Boston (By the way, his first name was given in honor of Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch art dealer and younger brother of Vincent.). Interestingly, Epstein grew up in a literary family, and so books would play a major role in his life (especially, later on, Bill James’ Baseball Abstract). This is how Verducci describes that important place:

Books would play an important role in shaping the future general manager. Leslie Epstein [his father] made sure that Russian novelists, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and the other great authors were as much a part of Theo’s childhood as the Red Sox. An Epstein house rule stipulated that every minute spent watching baseball on television had to be equaled by reading books.

‘A doubleheader’, Theo said, ‘was a lot of reading.’ [p.24]

And listen to what impact this reading would have on him as a person:

The reading material, nuanced and evocative, nurtured what would become one of his greatest traits as a general manager: empathy [p.24].

So, you see, even a great book on baseball leads to the world of books and its influence on readers. What’s on your book table this summer? 🙂

Published in: on July 1, 2017 at 7:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

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