Monday, December 30, 2019

Review of "Travel Team: The Catch," by Rick Jasper

Review of

Travel Team: The Catch, by Rick Jasper ISBN 9780761383208

Four out of five stars

This is another installment of the series of books featuring the Las Vegas Roadrunners traveling team of highly talented teen baseball players. Like the others it has a moral but getting to it requires exposing a very unseemly side of big-time athletics, even at the amateur level.

 Danny Manuel is the centerfielder and the story opens with him making a sensational diving catch. It was so great that it goes viral and is replayed several times on ESPN. Danny is immediately raised to the level of star and with his father’s insistence, he quickly becomes a hot endorsement commodity for a sporting goods company. For years, a man called Pop Mancini had supplied the equipment for the Roadrunners in an agreement that was based on little more than a handshake.

 This leads to legal conflicts and a swelled head on the part of Danny. He begins doing things on the field with a flair in order to attract the attention of the cameras, but it also leads to the alienation of his teammates. It takes some serious difficulties before he learns how to rise above the pursuit of fame and fortune in order to carry out the task that leads to a Roadrunner victory.

 While it is true that money is soiling sports even down to the level of the amateur, it comes across as unseemly that this feature is put in a YA book about sports. There are some exciting moments and a big game at the end but getting there exposes some real self-serving sleaze.

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