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My original intent was to get March out of the way early. Somehow it didn't quite work out that way.

And now April's almost gone. I wonder when I'll get the next one of these done? Sorry 'bout that.

Title: Baseballissimo

Published: McClelland and Stewart, 2004

# Pages: 348

Availability: Son of a gun if it doesn't seem to be in print. First book I've done that isn't out of print. Readily available on and Amazon.

Author: Dave Bidini

Who Is: Bidini is the rhythm guitarist with the band the Rheostatics. He's also written books on Canadian rock music and on hockey, and I've seen articles by him appear in this newspaper or that magazine.

What It's About: It's only kind of about the Blue Jays. Mostly it's about Bidini's summer with an Italian minor league team, the Nettuno Peones. But he spends a lot of the book musing on his Italian heritage and his history as a baseball fan, which includes some discussion of the Jays' '85 season, the '87 season, the '89 playoffs and Roberto Alomar's home run off Eckersley. (He also finds time to explore the history of baseball in Italy.)

It's a funny thing about baseball books. They may all be about baseball, but there are a lot of subcategories. Books about baseball history, as-told-tos, books on minor league ball, on Japanese baseball, on stats, annual books like Prospectus, books on the Negro Leagues... Baseball's pretty fractal.

How's the Writing: Really good. Bidini's a funny guy, and paints an affectionate portrait of the Peones. He's become one of those authors where I'll read anything he writes even if I couldn't care less about the subject matter.

I caught Bidini using the same trick as Alison Gordon: he has a lot of characters to introduce to us, and in order that they stick in our minds more easily, he gives them all nicknames. I don't like all these nicknames, no matter who the author, but I have to admit that they serve their purpose.

I am absolutely going to be rereading this one again. Recommended.

Sabremetric Corner: Not a whole lot of stats in the book, but then, how many of us would be able to put stats from Serie B Italian baseball in proper context?

Anecdote: Somehow the part that sticks in my mind is the part where it turns out that Fabio from Milan isn't actually from Milan.

04/09 Blue Jays Library in a Box: Baseballissimo | 12 comments | Create New Account
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Mick Doherty - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 12:58 AM EDT (#199078) #
Baseball's pretty fractal

Now THAT would be a great book title!
robertdudek - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 04:15 AM EDT (#199083) #
Off Topic ....

I was perusing one of my favourite sites - baseball-reference - and discovered this little tidbit: Jason Frasor ranks 5th all-time in relief appearances as a Blue Jay!

Frasor, who in years past has been bounced unceremoniously to AAA, may be on the verge of becoming an elite reliever.

I don't think it will be too difficult to name the four ahead of Frasor on the list, but I'll let the readership have a crack at it.

pooks137 - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 04:35 AM EDT (#199084) #

I would guess:

Tom Henke, Duane Ward, Dan Plesac and Paul Quantrill

Jeremy - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 10:27 AM EDT (#199089) #
I think it's Ward, Henke, Timlin and Quantrill
Magpie - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 11:38 AM EDT (#199097) #
Jeremy has the four pitchers, and almost has them in the right order as well (Quantrill would be 3rd in RelApps).
Magpie - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#199098) #
I am making use, of course, of my handy dandy 2009 Media Guide.

Here's a fun fact. In the all time Top 10 for various pitching categories as a Jay, Roy Halladay was listed in a tie for 10th in one of the categories. One month into the season, and he has dropped off that partiuclar list. Which category is this?
China fan - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#199099) #
D. King - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#199100) #
Magpie - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#199102) #
Doc is 3rd in ERA at 3.52 coming into the season, and not going anywhere. (Stieb and Key are at 3.42, and Wells is a t 4.06>)

Alas, the Official Media Guide is not going to list anything semi-obscure rate stat like HR/9...
Dewey - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#199103) #
Your column seems to have been high-jacked, Matthew.

Bidini's book always ticked me off a good bit, because it's so obviously a rip-off of a book by Tim Parks some years ago (2002?) called *A Season with Verona*,  in which he quite enjoyably relates his experiences travelling with an Italian soccer team throughout Italy.  It's about soccer,  and about Italian soccer fans' fanaticism.  I don't really consider Bidini's  a baseball book, however.
China fan - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#199110) #
Magpie, I thought the ERA top-ten list might include relievers.   I guess the minimum-number-of-innings threshold is fairly high for the ERA table?
Magpie - Wednesday, April 29 2009 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#199112) #
The Jays Media Guide uses 1000 IP as the cut-off.

The category we're looking for, seeing as how I'm going out for a few hours, is Games Pitched. Coming into the season, Escobar was 9th (301) - Halladay was in a three way tie with Jim Acker and Jason Frasor for 10th with 281. Frasor now has 10th to himself, Doc is 11th, and Acker is off the list as well.

I devoutly hope, of course, that Doc is able to pass Escobar this season.
04/09 Blue Jays Library in a Box: Baseballissimo | 12 comments | Create New Account
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