“Nine Bucks a Pound” by James Bailey
Fiction, sports, baseball, Twins, PEDs
February 20, 2014
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
In his follow-up novel to 2012’s “The Greatest Show on Dirt”, James Bailey explores the world of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) beyond the headlines. Del Tanner is a minor league baseball player struggling to move up in the Minnesota Twins organization. He is told that he needs to get stronger and when the weight room alone doesn’t seem to be helping; he and a teammate decide to experiment with PEDs. This decision ended up being much more than something that would help his hitting – it would touch many aspects of both his professional and personal life.
What I really liked about this book is that it puts a human face on a topic that comes across as black and white. Especially to those who are not baseball fans, those players who took these substances are bad and those who didn’t were good. Del’s trials and tribulations, which were both good and bad, show that it is a very gray area. The reader follows Del from the minor leagues to his award-winning rookie season with the Twins, his relationship with his long-time girlfriend Dana and his parents. These are what resonated with me while reading this book – Del’s decision had more effects than just an increase in his home run totals.
The baseball scenes in the book are well written as well. Whether is on the diamond, in the clubhouse or just in the mind of Del as he is trying to figure out the pitcher while in the on-deck circle, fans of the game will love both the action on the field and the interactions of the players with both each other and the press.
With excellent character development, a story that never stalls but keeps the reader moving forward and many emotional moments that range from elation to downright sadness, Bailey has written an outstanding novel that should be read by fans of not only the game of baseball, but also of human nature stories as that is the strength of this book – it puts a human face on an ugly issue in America’s Pastime.
I wish to thank Mr. Bailey for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I skim?
Were the characters realistic?
Yes. Both Del and Dana were portrayed as young people who were mostly happy with life but were struggling with inner demons. Del’s teammates were also realistically portrayed as a diverse but cohesive unit, whether he was in the minor or major leagues. The closest portrayal to being a bit of a stretch was the relationship between Del’s parents Gwen and Milo, but that is more than made up with the portrayal of Del’s relationship with each of them.
Pace of the story:
Do I recommend?
Yes. Baseball fans will especially like this story, but also for those who like books on current events that manage to put a more human element into the story will enjoy this story of a young man’s inner ethical struggle.