Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: WORTH THE WAIT: TALES FROM THE 2008 PHILLIES by Jayson Stark (Triumph Books, 2009)

This is a pretty decent summary of the Phillies' run to the 2008 World Series title, in very much the same spirit as similar books published by Triumph about other championship teams. Stark (of ESPN -- but I remember when he was just starting out in the local Philly media back when I was in high school) basically "retrofits" several of his columns from the season and knits them into a game-by-game narrative of the NLDS, NLCS, and World Series. There is a drawback to this approach, in that we don't get adequate background on how the team was built or sufficient detail on the progression of the 2008 regular season. Stark touches upon a few "key turning points" of the latter, such as the benching of Jimmy Rollins and Brett Myers' trip to the minors, but, absent a more substantial narrative of the season, you don't get to witness these events in full perspective. Stark is also enamored of arcane baseball trivia (which he tongue-in-cheekily headlines "Useless Information"), some of which is literally trivial and some of which is not (e.g., the Phillies' 24-6 finish in '08 is among the hottest finishes in baseball history, comparable to that of the 1914 "Miracle" Boston Braves). Unfortunately, he doesn't always distinguish clearly between the two. Still, this is an enjoyable read for Phillies fans; though not as detailed as THE TEAM THAT WOULDN'T DIE, Hal Bodley's book about the 1980 Phillies, it is better-written, and the seams aren't nearly as visible. I'd have to rate it behind Frank Fitzpatrick's book on the '80 team, however, due to the aforementioned lack of background detail.

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