The Corner

Baseball Highlight

I just finished reading Three Nights in August, the book by Buzz Bissinger (author of Friday Night Lights) on Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals. Ever wonder how a manager writes his lineup card, or what a pitching coach says to the starter the afternoon before the game, or why the first pitch in any at-bat is the most important? Then this book is for you. The most enlightening section probably involves the phenomenon of pitchers who hit batters intentionally. We all know it goes on, and LaRussa describes how and why he has ordered his own hurlers to do it–always as a form of payback for an earlier offense by the other team (he claims), but also because he’ll lose respect in the clubhouse if he doesn’t do it. Bissinger describes a game that LaRussa possibly let slip away because he thought it was more important to send a message from the mound–both to the oppopsition as well as his own players–than it was to secure an early-season win. Finally, Bissinger’s characterizations are great. The book works as a book because Bissinger writes stories about people rather than crunching statistics.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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