Monday, December 10, 2018

Review of "Roy Sievers"

It is not uncommon for me at the end of the year to find books that were sent to me awhile ago but never were read or reviewed.  So, with apologies to the publisher hoping that they agree with me that it's better to write a late review than to not review a book at all, here is my review of "Roy Sievers"


 
Title/Author:
Roy Sievers: ‘The Sweetest Right Handed Swing’ in 1950’s Baseball” by Paul Scimonelli

Tags:
Baseball, professional, biography, Senators, Browns,             White Sox, Phillies

Publish date:
November 30, 2017

Length:
220 pages

Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (good)

Review:
Unless a person is an avid fan of baseball in the 1950’s, chances are he or she has not heard about Roy Sievers.  He enjoyed a productive hitting career playing mostly on losing teams, most notably the St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators.  It was for the latter team where author Paul Scimonelli became a fan of Sievers and was the inspiration for this biography.

Drawing off memories, numerous interviews of former teammates and even with Sievers himself, the reader will learn much about Sievers’ career, both the highs and the lows.  While Sievers never led the American League in major offensive categories, he was often compared to some of the other stars of that era such as Mickey Mantle and Eddie Matthews.  Of course, playing for second division teams didn’t help him gain attention from most fans, but his offensive prowess was well-respected throughout the game. The interviews with other players and people involved in the game illustrated this.

It should also be noted that Sievers had injuries that threatened his career, most notably a severe shoulder injury that impaired his ability to throw from third base (his natural position) or the outfield.  By overcoming these setbacks to become one of the most respected players in the game says much about the character of Sievers as well as his ability.

The book an easy, fast paced read that at times jumps around from topic to topic but is a very good source of information for the state of the sport in the 1950’s. Aside from Sievers, no topic is explained in great detail, but does explain the point well enough that a reader who wants to learn more will have his or her interest piqued.  Recommended for fans of baseball in that decade.

I wish to thank McFarland for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
Paperback

Buying Links:
www.mcfarlandpub.com – 800-253-2187


 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Review of "How 'Bout Them Cowboys?"

The Dallas Cowboys are one of those sports franchises that even non-fans of the sport know about. So, any book about them would be of interest to many people. This one, written by Gary Myers, covers a lot of the history of the team but mostly revolves around owner Jerry Jones.  Here is my review of "How 'Bout Them Cowboys?"


Title/Author:
How ‘Bout Them Cowboys? Inside the Stars and Legends of America’s Team” by Gary Myers
Tags:
Football (American), Professional, Cowboys, history
Publish date:
October 9, 2018
Length:
288 pages
Rating: 
3 ½  of 5 stars (good)
Review:
Love them or hate them, anyone who knows anything about professional football knows about the Dallas Cowboys and their colorful, successful history. This is especially true since Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1988 and immediately fired the only coach the team had to that point, Tom Landry. This book by Gary Myers takes the reader inside world of Jones at various times through his ownership of the team.
The reader will learn much about what makes the owner tick. There is an extensive section about what really happened to the “friendship” between Jones and head coach Jimmy Johnson. Myers explains why Jones fired Landry and yet made the legendary coach one of the first inductees into the Cowboys’ Hall of Fame. The extent of Jones’ reach into the football operations of the team after Johnson left is illustrated in a section about what happened in the draft war room of the team when Jones’ son Stephen and the rest of the Cowboys staff did NOT want to draft quarterback Johnny Manziel when Jerry was absolutely certain that the Cowboys would take the talented but troubled quarterback from Texas A&M. 
This is not to say that the book is only about Jerry Jones, although at times the book does read like it should be a biography of the owner. There are some passages that are about other times and people important to the history of the franchise. There is a very touching chapter on life after football for five star players for Dallas from the 1970’s and 1980’s – Tony Dorsett, Ron Springs, Robert Newhouse, Dennis Thurman and Everson Walls. The story of their friendships and health issues was powerful reading and it was my favorite section of the book.
However, the placement of this chapter and other sections that didn’t center on Jerry Jones seemed puzzling – it was like the book was supposed to be all about Jones, then it was realized that there had to be material on other aspects of the history of the franchise, so they were stuck in wherever they might fit.  This gave the book a disjointed feel, which was a shame because the material and stories, whether on Jones or others, was excellent and informative. There was even some humor in the book.  This line about how Bill Parcells became interested in coaching the Cowboys was very funny – “Parcells and Jones have different recollections of who played matchmaker, although they agree it was not Yente from ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ “
As a football fan who falls into the “hate them” category mentioned at the beginning of this review, I still found the information in the book excellent, but as a great read, it fell a little short. While this book would certainly be of interest to Cowboys fans, anyone who is interested in Jerry Jones of the history of the Dallas Cowboys would also enjoy this.
I wish to thank Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)
Buying Links:


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Review of "Hockey Fight in Canada"

Sports fans have many different ways to channel their inner "nerd."  Some will do so by playing fantasy games. Others will pour over advanced statistics in their favorite sports.  For me, my inner sports nerd is exposed by reading books on the business side of sports. It is that reason that I was intrigued by this book on the recent massive contract paid by Rogers Communications for the Canadian broadcast rights to the NHL. It was a great book for this release.  Here is my review of "Hockey Fight in Canada"



Title/Author:
Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Faceoff over the NHL” by David Shoalts
Tags:
Ice Hockey, professional, business, broadcasting
Publish date:
September 29, 2018
Length:
224 pages
Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
“Hockey Night In Canada” has been a Saturday night tradition in the country for over 60 years.  The government-run Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) had the broadcasting rights for decades, but in 2014 Rogers Communications paid 5.2 billion dollars to gain the exclusive broadcast rights for NHL hockey games for the entire nation, including “Hockey Night in Canada.”  How this deal did not go exactly as planned for Rogers, as well as the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes by all parties involved are told in this excellent book by veteran Toronto sportswriter David Shoalts.
There were many reasons given by the author as to why the CBC lost the rights to “Hockey Night”, but the biggest seemed to be complacency. Since the program has been such a staple in the country and was aired on the one broadcasting network that covered the entire nation, it was figured that they would simply be awarded the next contract.  Like all other television networks, CBC was losing viewers as more people looked to cutting the proverbial cord and view programs on other platforms. Rogers was experiencing similar issues, especially with a drop in cable subscriptions, but was confident they could satisfy the wants of the NHL to expand viewership of its product on other digital platforms. This eventually became a winning strategy as Rogers beat out not only CBC but the other major Canadian broadcaster, Bell Canada.
When Rogers won the contract, it controlled all aspects of hockey broadcasts in Canada, with many games broadcast on its SportsNet regional networks. However, in a deal reached with the CBC, the latter was allowed to continue to broadcast “Hockey Night in Canada” but Rogers called all the shots – they collected all the revenue from advertising as well as forcing CBC into other concessions.
These concessions included a major change in the on-air talent. Popular (at least with viewers) long-time host of “Hockey Night”, Ron McLean, was replaced with George Stroumboulopoulos.  While he was considered more “hip” and the set for “Hockey Night” had been modernized by Rogers, Stroumboulopoulos never seemed comfortable in his new role.  McLean had not disappeared, however, as he still teamed up with Don Cherry on the very popular “Coach’s Corner” segment.  However, even that was affected by Rogers as they cut the amount of air time for the very popular coach and, like with any other topic, Cherry wasn’t afraid to air his opinion of the situation.

Complaints about “Coach’s Corner” was just one of a myriad of issues Rogers had with its contract. The information about all the other problems and issues that affected the ratings and telecasts was compelling and made the book a very lively read about a topic that normally would not be considered exciting reading material.  In a very short summarization of the first two years of the contract, Rogers’ ratings over all its services for hockey would depend on two factors – the success of the seven Canadian teams in the league (in 2016, none of the seven teams would qualify for the playoffs and the ratings tanked) and more specifically, the success of the Toronto Maple Leafs. To illustrate the power the Maple Leafs have on the broadcasting fortunes in Canada. The 2016 draft in which the Maple Leafs selected Auston Matthews drew higher ratings than any series in the playoffs that year, including the Stanley Cup Finals. 
Information like this is why any reader who enjoys reading about sports business or broadcasting will thoroughly enjoy this book. It is a fascinating look at the cutthroat nature of negotiating for broadcasting rights for live sports, which are still in high demand today.
I wish to thank Douglas and McIntyre for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:
E-book (PDF)
Buying Links:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review of "Tooth and Nail"

Having not read a book on boxing for awhile, I saw this one about a female fight doctor. Since that is one aspect of the sport that is rarely mentioned, I thought I would give it a try - turned out to be a pretty interesting book.  Here is my review of "Tooth and Nail"



Title/Author:

Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor” by Linda Dahl

Tags:

Boxing, memoir, medicine

Publish date:

July 24, 2018

Length:

304 pages

Rating: 

3 ½  of 5 stars (good)

Review:

Linda Dahl, an ear, nose and throat physician practicing on New York’s Upper East Side, was not happy with how her life was going. She couldn’t connect with her patients, she had gone through a divorce and felt intimidated around me. So, looking for some other outlet, she applied with the New York State boxing commission to be a fight doctor. Her stories of being one of the few females in a male-dominated sport are told in this memoir.

While her marriage didn’t last, it did have one significant event that changed her life.  She watched a match between Shane Mosely and Oscar de La Hoya at the urging of her then-husband, who was a huge boxing fan.  Dahl then saw how boxing became a way to connect with others after being inspired by Mosely’s courage and survival instincts in the match.  Having felt out of place throughout her medical career, she decided to take a chance by applying to become a fight doctor.

The mood of book changes frequently, as Dahl expresses not only her highs for her times in the ring and her encounters with famous boxers, but also her lows and frequent times of self-doubt.  Her stories about her encounters with Mike Tyson and Vladimir Klitschko were the best, and her job performance in the ring was always considered top notch by fighters, trainers and commissioners alike.  Moments in the ring and in the presence were the best parts of the book.

However, that isn’t the case as Dahl’s self-doubts about her ability, her communication skills, especially around me, and even her sexuality cast a pall on the book that at times made it feel like too much of a self-pity party. While these parts of her personality were needed to tell her complete story, it felt like this was too much of her life. One way she overcame this was by channeling her “inner Dom” after talking with a female patient at the New York practice. I won’t deny, I was thinking that this might lead the book down a very different path, but it did not do so.  Instead, what that lead to was Dahl wearing more revealing clothing to fights at which she worked.  That was interesting and did have the desired results for her – she became more assertive, especially around men.

Overall, this is a very interesting memoir that boxing fans will enjoy.  It is more than just a book on the sport, though, as readers who are inspired by women who overcome odds to be successful in male-dominate professions will also want to read this book.


Book Format Read:

E-book (Nook)

Buying Links: