Clearing the Bases : Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball
Between 1995, when Mike Schmidt was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the dawn of the recent "Steroid Era," when baseball's biggest names were as likely to appear before Congress as they were to play in the All-Star Game, our national pastime has devolved into a national punch line. Even though the past two years have witnessed the Red Sox' finally putting an end to the Curse of the Bambino and the White Sox' bringing a championship to the South Side of Chicago for the first time in eighty-seven years, the sad truth is that the 2005 and 2006 seasons may be remembered as much for the league's scandals and blockbuster free-agent signings as they are for historic accomplishments on the field. Something has gone horribly wrong with the game, and according to Schmidt, it's time to do something about it. Clearing the Bases is a much-needed call to arms by one of baseball's most respected players. Drawing on his experiences as a third baseman, a manager, and, most recently, a fan, Schmidt takes on everything from skyrocketing payrolls, callous owners, and unapproachable players to inflated statistics, and, of course, ersatz home run kings.
All too frequently, sports autobiographies offer little more than light reading, providing nothing revelatory. Schmidt's book, with Waggoner (Divots, Shanks, Gimmes, Mulligans and Chili Dips: A Life in 18 Holes), is an exception-it is the peerless third baseman's honest examination of his own career in particular and of major league baseball in general. A markedly self-critical ballplayer who became a first ballot Hall of Famer, Schmidt discusses his own strengths and weaknesses as a hitter and a fielder and how a midcareer adjustment made him a more complete player as he continued to pile up personal honors and carry his Philadelphia Phillies to a pair of World Series appearances. Equally noteworthy are Schmidt's analyses of some of his competitors and teammates, including Barry Bonds and Pete Rose, two of the sport's most controversial figures. Along the way, the author explores the effect of free agency, the game's financial makeup, and the impact of steroids while offering an intriguing suggestion about revising the selection process by which players are chosen to enter baseball's hallowed sanctuary in Cooperstown. For general libraries.-R.C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 28, 2006
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