Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review of "When the Braves Ruled the Diamond"

Normally, any baseball book will get a glowing recommendation from me, even if it falls a bit flat from my expectations.  In this case of this book about the 14 consecutive division titles by the Atlanta Braves, my recommendation is conditional - try the print version, not the audio book and if the reader is a hard core Braves fan, go elsewhere as there will not be any new material here.  But for casual fans and readers, this one is one to try if one wants to learn about this team that went on an extraordinary streak. 

When The Braves Ruled the Diamond: Fourteen Flags Over Atlanta” by Dan Schlossberg, narrated by Kyle Tait
Baseball, professional, Braves, championship, history, audiobook
Publish date:
March 22, 2016

304 pages

2 ½ of 5 stars (just okay)
The Atlanta Braves ended the 20th century and began the 21st century by accomplishing an astounding feat – winning 14 consecutive division titles, not counting the 1994 season in which no team awards were given as a player strike ended the season on August 12 that year. This book by Dan Schlossberg covers each season in which the Braves won a division title and also has stories about the most important people who contributed to the streak.

While the team won all these division titles, the team was a disappointment in the postseason, winning the World Series just once during the streak (1995) and not making it back to the World Series after 1999.  That is a good analogy to describe this book about the Braves as well – despite all the great material and a good narrator, the audio book fell short of expectations.

The book started with very good stories on the general manager who put these teams team together, John Schuerholz, as well as manager Bobby Cox, pitching coach Leo Mazzone, infielders Terry Pendleton and Larry “Chipper” Jones (the two players who were named National League MVP during the run) and pitchers Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.  While avid Braves fans or readers who read a lot about baseball may be familiar with most of the material, these chapters contain good information for readers who wish to learn about these men.  The summaries of each season of the streak also are good for readers who want to learn the basics about the Braves in each of those seasons.

As an audiobook, however, there were several issues. One of the most glaring came at points during some of the season summaries.  There were random facts stated in the middle of the chapter that interrupted the particular story that was being told.  For example, during one of the seasons in which Deion Sanders played for the Braves, it was noted that Sanders was the first man to appear in both the World Series and the Super Bowl in his athletic career.  However, at the time this fact was said, it interrupted the recap of the 1995 postseason accomplishments of the Braves and Sanders was not at all mentioned in that part.  This was not the only time the narrative was interrupted by an unrelated fact.  It probably would not be as glaring in a print version, especially if it was meant to be a photo caption or footnote, but it was not clarified as such in the audio version.

The other shortcoming of the book, in this reviewer’s opinion, was the needless repetition of certain facts over and over throughout the chapters about the GM, manager, coach and players.  By the time that part of the book is over, the reader will certainly know that the Braves won 14 straight division titles, that John Smoltz was the only player to be on all 14 of those teams and that the Braves were 9 ½ games back of the San Francisco Giants in 1993 to come back and win the division that year.  All were interesting, and the first is why the book was written – but it didn’t need to be repeated so often. 

Despite these negatives, I did finish the book, I did learn some new things about this team and do believe that it is a book that casual baseball fans will enjoy.  If one is a hard core Braves fan, or baseball fan for that matter, there isn’t a lot of new information.

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1 comment:

  1. I am always looking for reading new motivational novels. And this time I found his book thanks for sharing your review on the book. I will download eBook to read full story.