This was the first or second book on the Jays that I ever got.
Title: Fungo Blues: An Uncontrolled Look at the Toronto Blue Jays
Published: McClelland and Stewart, 1985
# Pages: 220
Availability: I think this thing's been out of print for more than two decades. Chapters/Indigo doesn't even seem to admit that it ever existed. You can find it used, though; try Amazon.
Written By: Philippe van Rjndt and Patrick Blednick
Who Are: van Rjndt is a thriller writer. I've never read any of his stuff, but my dad has heard of him. Blednick is, or was, a hotel manager and has also been a correspondent for the Financial Post.
What It's About: It's an exploration of every aspect of the Blue Jays organization at the end of the 1984 season. van Rjndt and Blednick talk to players, front office guys, minor league guys, scouts, winter ball guys, broadcasters, whoever they can get a hold of.
How's the Writing? Irreverent. Casual. Repetitive at times. They have a tendency to not be satisfied with the common and useful phrase "he said". Both van Rjndt and Blednick are real writers, so I'm surprised that the writing reads so amateurishly. Maybe it's just that, like so many of the other books I've seen while doing this, it seems not to have been edited.
But it's still very readable. Not funny, exactly, but candid and amusing. In some ways you could say that van Rjndt and Blednick are the Drunk Jays Fans (www.drunkjaysfans.com) of the 1980s.
One fun thing about the book is to see what people like Bobby Cox and Buck Martinez have to say about their future plans, given how much we know about what they actually did end up doing. I wonder about the perspective that books like this give. I mean, I first read it in, oh, must have been 1986, and several time since, but I wonder how different the experience of reading it is for a fan who, say, wasn't alive at the time.
As Blue Jays books go, this is one of the more pleasant reads, and I know I'm going to read it again.
Sabremetric Corner: van Rjndt and Blednick are familiar with Bill James and use OBP in their discussion of players' contributions, which is pretty advanced for 1984. But really this is not what the book's about.
Anecdotes: The whole book is anecdote. How about van Rjndt and Blednick's ongoing series of skirmishes with Jays PR director Howie Starkman?