04/09 Blue Jays Library in a Box: Baseballissimo

Tuesday, April 28 2009 @ 10:43 PM EDT

Contributed by: Matthew E

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 Chapters.ca 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.