Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review of "Throwback: A Big-league Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played," by Jason Kendall and Lee Judge

 Review of

Throwback: A Big-league Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played, by Jason Kendall and Lee Judge ISBN 9781250031839

Five out of five stars

An honest look inside major league baseball

 Many people complain that baseball is boring compared to other sports such as football and basketball. In one sense it is true, other sports have a time clock and there is a great deal more physical movement. However, if you truly understand the game, it will keep you riveted as you watch for all the subtle changes in strategy that take place as the game progresses and even from pitch to pitch. Defensive players will move a short distance from left to right depending on what pitch is coming, what the count is and how the batter is behaving at the plate.

 It is a truism that the catcher is the field general when their team is on defense. They not only call the pitch, they also direct the movement of the players as well as where the ball should be thrown. They have to know about how their pitcher is performing as well as how the opposing batters handle specific situations. It has been said that when Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey met a former opponent, he said, “I don’t recall your name, but you were a sucker for a high inside curve.”

 Kendall is a former catcher that played in the major leagues for over a decade and was a hard-nosed player. In this book he expresses those sentiments as well as giving the reader an inside look at how players conduct themselves. This includes a long list of the unwritten rules and how you should respond when they are broken. Short and long-term strategies for getting simple and crucial outs are also discussed. It is an excellent look into how players approach the game in general and Kendall in particular.

 Fortunately, this is not a book containing the dirty laundry, where the author spends a lot of ink pointing out the flaws and failures of teammates, umpires, coaches and managers. While those books appeal to the crud-loving fan, they don’t really tell you much about how players really do things to maximize their chances of winning. This one does.

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