Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review of "Team Chemistry"

Looking for something a little different than the usual biographies and baseball history books, I decided to try this one when I saw it offered on NetGalley.  While there is a lot of history dialogue, it certainly is a different take on a different baseball subject. Here is my review of "Team Chemistry."

“Team Chemistry: The History of Drugs and Alcohol in Major League Baseball” by Nathan Michael Corzine

Baseball, professional, drugs, history, performance enhancing drugs

Publish date:
January 30, 2016

244 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (Excellent)

While the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) has been a source of controversy in Major League Baseball for nearly two decades, this issue is not the first time that the sport has been engulfed in issues with drugs. This book by Nathan Michael Corzine makes the case that PEDs are simply the latest in a long list of uses and abuses of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products by baseball players. 

Whether the use of the substances was for medical purposes, such as those used by Sandy Koufax, or for recreational use, such as the drinking of Mickey Mantle or the cocaine use by players in the 1980s like Tim Raines, Corzine writes of a long history of the use of many substances. The economics of the use of substances is also explored as fund from tobacco and alcohol advertising was a major source of revenue for the clubs in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Much like how the sport has evolved through the years on the field, Corzine writes about the uses of the various substances as an evolution as well.  From the alcohol and tobacco to marijuana and cocaine to PEDs, each era is chronicled for not only the use by players, but what was done by the game’s commissioners and owners to address the uses. That ranges from doing nothing to damage control due to bad publicity to proposing random testing.  Each topic is described in great detail and through excellent research and writing, the reader will learn much about the history of substance use in the game.

Readers may be tempted to try to judge whether one era of substance use was worse than another, like I did, and that would be a mistake. The book makes it easy to try to judge each player described, the closest to a negative aspect in it.  However, that doesn’t take anything away from the overall quality of the writing or the factual reporting.  Any reader who is interested the history of baseball should read this one.

I wish to thank University of Illinois Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying links:

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