Pitt Peas Book of the Month club

AreWeWinningCover.jpgThis summer I have been pretty big on reading. With some spare time on my hands and no Public Relations textbooks to bog me down I have done my fair share of reading over the past three months.

I have read “Blink” my Malcolm Gladwell, and a pair of books about Pirates history. But the one that stuck out, not only from the books I have read this summer, but from all books I have ever read is “Are We Winning?” by Will Leitch.

I have always been a fan of Leitch’s. I loved “God Save the Fan” where he trashed ESPN and other media outlets, it really got me thinking. I also enjoy his columns in The Sporting News. But this book is the end all be all of Leitch and baseball books everywhere.

It is an honest tale of the game of baseball and how special it really is to fathers and sons. The memories made, the lessons taught and the good times that can ony be shared and understood by a father and his son.

Each chapter in entitled as an inning, top of the first, bottom of the first, top of the second and so on.

The premise of the book details Will’s trip to Wrigley Field where he meets his father and college buddy who is a die-hard Cubs fan. The Leitch family lives and dies by the Cubs’ bitter rivals, Cardinals. Just as you can expect hilarity ensues with raunchy slurs and colorful words
wrigley.jpg to describe Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville, Cubs fans, Vince Vaughn, beer, women and everything and everyone in between.

He gives a vivid recap of the game at hand, it is a special game as the Cubs are just one win away from clinching the Division title. Along with the game play by play he also flashes back to important moments in his life.

College days, Cardinal games and life in general. It is a perfect autobiography that all men who love baseball can easily relate to, and get many laughs in the process.

While Leitch doesn’t necessairly bash the Pirates he just tells the truth. Many times he spouts that there are not any Pirate fans, well quite frankly there are not. When he spoke of this fact many times he really made me sad, driving me to put down the book a few times and collect my thoughts. I thought long and hard about what the Pirates mean to me, what baseball means to me, what I would possibly do without being a Pirates fan and what a shame it is that more people in Pittsburgh have turned their back on this franchise.

However, all the disdain will eventually turn to the most powerful statement of the whole book. Towards the end he describes baseball towns and how other sports take a backseat to these citizens compared to their baseball teams. New York, Boston and St. Louis are examples of these baseball meccas. To conclude the chapter he delievers a bold prediction.

“Kansas City. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Baltimore. These are baseball towns. They will rise again.

Man is that beautiful and I simply could not agree more. All four have had their time in the sun with a large period of famine since either one of the franchises have seen a good baseball season. Cincinnati is seeing what could happen when winning occurs and it has transformed that city in Ohio. If the Pirates have even just a winning season within three years fans will flock back. My generation does not know what winning feels like. The book makes that clear and makes me jealous when Leitch describes how amazing it is to live and die by every pitch, call your father after a must win game and live out dreams by seeing a World Series live and in person.

While its been a tough 18 years with the 18th consecutive losing season just a few games away, the Pirates redirected their future today by signing their first and second round draft picks, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.

jamesontailon.jpg
stetson.jpgTaillon and Allie have been touted as the two best high school pitchers in the country. They are now part of the Pittsburgh organization. Homegrown pitchers have been a specialty of the Bucs, however they never seem to live up to the hype let alone pan out as formidable Major League starters.

This pair has a chance to change that mantra and allow the Bucs to become part of the competitive baseball landscape. We’ve seen that this year has been dominated by pitchers and now that the Pirates have two pitchers with the potential to dominate it just shows that down the road Pittsburgh will rise again.

photo credits: amazon.com, destination360.com,mackmetblog.com, hotstoveinfo.com

6 Comments

I hope Leitch is right by saying KC, PITT, BALT, CINN will rise again. Baltimore is the easiest fix. Those ARE 4 great baseball towns. Thanks for the review!
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

Matt: I hope the Pirates keep those two guys. Tallion and Allie could be what they need to turn thigns around in the future. They will rise again! You are such a good fan, staying with your team even when they are down.
-Virginia
http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

The key to thie ‘rise’ of these teams is smart draft choices. Last place translates to high rated picks… choose wisely. You need only look to Tampa to see how quickly that can move your team from worst to first.
Bucs fans DESERVE a winning team after all of these years.
Great review Matt!
Lynn
http://giantsgirl24.mlblogs.com/

Thanks for the review Matt! You know sometimes I want to start sending emails to Bud Selig on a daily basis about having parity in baseball. Not sure if he will read them.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

I’m gonna have to check out that book. Whenever I chat with other folks from the Burgh, it’s always given that the city is a Steelers town and nothing else.
(Towards the end he describes baseball towns and how other sports take a backseat to these citizens compared to their baseball teams.)
It’s hard to say what is a good baseball town. I wouldn’t rank New York as a “baseball town” by the definition given. Not even close compared to St. Louis. I know many people in New York who don’t even care about baseball compared to football. St. Louis is a better example. I grew up just outside St. Louis, although I live in the southern California area now. I also think to say a place is a “great baseball town” is a little simplistic. Only Major League Baseball? I know more people out here in the L.A. area who could tell you who’s in the College world series, who follow the top high school players in the country and who to look for in the draft, who have fantasy leagues for the regional players, who love baseball across the board. When I was back in St. Louis for a family event last spring, nobody even knew the Caribbean Series was going on, but people out here will watch that, and a lot of international baseball – the World Baseball Classic last year was really exciting, yet some so called baseball fans I knew back home wouldn’t even watch it because it was on at the same time as spring training. I also know many more people out here who actually play baseball, compared to just watching it. Myself, I’m a coach and the competition here is something crazy like I never saw back in St. Louis. So if the book is saying “Major League Baseball” cities only, I’d say St. Louis is the best, but I remember a time when Kansas City was, too. And definitely Cincinnati. As a Cards fan I don’t like what they’re doing this year, but as a baseball fan I can respect it. I do hope for Pirates fans’ sake things do turn around. 18 years for a winning season is too long to wait.

I guess I am gonna have to get that book and read it myself.

Lynn, about making the “smart draft choices” that could go either way. Over the years we have seen lots of guys go from “can’t miss” to failing. It’s not easy to tell what is a “smart” choice. Sometimes all that meticulous scouting backfires on you. On paper a lot of choices look smart. The Rays are an example where most things went right for them. Also, teams can make smart draft choices but mishandle the players, later. We have seen that happen a lot too.

Those ARE 4 great baseball towns. Thanks for the review!
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