Posts Tagged ‘moral game’

The Summer of 43: R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball and the Redemption of America’s Game (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

July 14th, 2012

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE ABOUT: The Summer of 43: R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball and the Redemption of America’s Game (Kindle Single)

Kindle Purchase Price: $1.99
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Book Description
Publication Date:July 4, 2012
The summer of 2012 has become the Summer of 43—as in the summer of R.A. Dickey, the 37-year-old knuckleball pitcher who wears Number 43 on the mound for the New York Mets.

As his knuckleballs flutter and drop through the strike zone, befuddling batters and producing a 12–1 record by the All Star break, Dickey has become one of the greatest feel-good stories of baseball history: the man who found redemption, after years of adversity, by mastering one of the strangest and most difficult pitches in the game.

But it’s not just his own redemption that R.A. Dickey has discovered. After the Days of Steroids—the era when baseball went brazen mad and lost itself in a noonday sin—America’s game has needed a new narrative. Baseball has been desperate for a better storyline, a new shaping tale. Baseball has needed, for those who love the game, a way to signal its own redemption and its return to the hearts of baseball fans.

A little faith in God—and thereby, a little faith in himself—coupled with years of work, and R.A. Dickey’s surrender to the mysteries of the knuckleball has given the man another chance at the greatness that eluded him early in his career. Given baseball itself another chance, for that matter, and promised us all that second chances really do come around in this life.

In “The Summer of 43,” the widely published essayist and poet Joseph Bottum takes up this story with verve and skill. The bestselling author of “The Gospel According to Tim” and “The Christmas Plains,” he is, as the essayist Andrew Ferguson has noted “one of America’s most gifted writers, with a perfect ear and a matchless style.” And in his account of R.A. Dickey, Bottum uncovers both the tragedy and the comedy of baseball—and the joy of a story like R.A. Dickey’s.

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com Review
Having penned the popular Kindle Single The Gospel According to Tim (Tebow), Joseph Bottum knows his way around the nexus of faith and sports. In The Summer of 43, he would have us believe that baseball is a moral game. Who knew? At one end of the spectrum, I suppose, are those comedians who insist that performance-enhancing drugs should be mandatory for all athletes, and at the other, there’s Bottum’s taxonomical assignment of various pitches into “moral categories.” All of which brings us to one R.A. Dickey (the number 43 of the title), whose increasingly unhittable knuckleball has taken Major League Baseball circa 2012 by storm, providing–Bottum argues–the long-awaited antidote to a decade-plus doping story that brought baseball all the way to Congress. Nevertheless, Bottum’s passionate essay is more than a purist’s screed on “steroids, the sin against which R.A. Dickey is throwing his knuckleball this year.” It’s also a lofty testament to the dizzying emotional and metaphorical heights that some fans still find in the game. –Jason Kirk

Product Details
File Size: 113 KB
Print Length: 25 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B008HS2X98

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Grand slam July 6, 2012
By Dr. Syntax
Format:Kindle EditionThis is a wonderfully descriptive, authoritative picture of the mysteries of the knuckleball and the resurgence of #43’s career after concentrating on regularly hurling that flabbergasting pitch. A fascinating story very well told.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Art of Baseball July 6, 2012
By Denise L. Wiktor
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified PurchaseI love baseball, have loved it since I was young and would hang with my father as he puttered and listened to baseball. He would watch golf on TV but never baseball, it had to be listened to. Of course that was a time when baseball commentary was king. Joseph Bottum’s essay is more for the fan of the ART of baseball, not the mere statistician. So for me the description of the Miamiacs and their stadium I loved. It is also about the paid of the steroid scandals and how it has made us doubt who is playing. Only a pitcher, it seems to me, can avoid that and we get a animated description of how the knuckle ball and one pitcher can give us faith in the game again, to redeem it.

I do take one exception, in the part where he describes “Before 1998, only fifteen players over the previous hundred years of baseball had managed 500 home runs in a career.” he fails to mention the one bone of contention I do have with statistics, which there are more games in a season that there used to be so the record (with or without drugs) has more of an opportunity to be broken.

I enjoyed the essay and I think that anyone who likes the sport of baseball, the art of baseball will enjoy it too with the colorful and descriptive passages, which, by his own admission, meander. The meandering gives context and emotion to the narrative. All for $1.99.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The intersection of faith and baseball in a compelling essay July 6, 2012
By Robert C. Ross TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified PurchaseJoseph Bottum has written a good review of his own essay, which appears for free on his Blog on the CatholicVote website:

“I’m not sure when the editors for the Kindle Singles elected me their go-to guy for any story about the intersection of sports and religion, but it’s fun to write on these topics: first Tebow and now Dickey. And the thesis is one I think I’m right to hold: ‘A fastball is a power pitch. A curveball is an artist’s pitch. And a knuckleball — ah, yes, a knuckleball is a pitch of faith.’

“Along the way, R.A. Dickey is showing us the 2012 redemption of baseball from the Days of Steroids: the era in which the game went brazen mad and lost itself in a noonday sin. If you haven’t been aware of Dickey’s story — and, even more, if you haven’t watched him pitch, throwing his fluttering knuckleball past the hitters of the National League — now’s the time to start. It’s like watching faith on the fly.”

After reflecting on his essay for 24 hours (and deleting my original ungenerous review), here is one explanation for why the editors made the choice of this essay:

First, Joseph Bottum is a wonderful writer, and this essay is as good as his earlier effort The Gospel According to Tim (Kindle Single) on the intersection between sports and religion. (For me, the baseball part of The Summer of 43 was stronger than the religion part, whereas in The Gospel According to Tim the faith part was stronger than the football part.)

Second, the baseball parts of the essay are absolutely superb. Bottum summarizes several of the major scandals that have so rocked baseball over the past several years, most dealing with drugs and the hypocrisy of owners and to a certain extent the players. He is absolutely brilliant describing the various basic pitches, especially the knuckleball, that most unpredictable of all pitches, and the one that has garnered some of the best quotations that exist in the long lore of baseball.

Bottum also writes a compelling summary of Dickey’s past career and makes a strong case for why and how Dickey’s faith has enabled him to grow from a marginal pitcher into, at the moment, one of the very best in baseball. And, he shows how fleeting that excellence may be, especially with a pitch that is so unpredictable, not only for the hitter or the catcher, but for the pitcher as well.

Fate always plays a part in baseball; as Bottum writes in this same blog entry: “Dickey was close to a disaster [in a game the Mets stole from the Phillies], giving up a career high of 11 hits and 5 runs in 7 innings. Not, in other words, the Dickey we’ve been seeing–who just had one of the best months of any pitcher in baseball history: 5-0 for June, with a 0.93 ERA and the first back-to-back one-hitters in 25 years. In the event, for the second time in three starts, his teammates’ heroics in the ninth brought a win for the Mets’ reliever and saved Dickey from recording what would have been his first loss since April 13.”

There is a great deal of interest here, not only for folks who may not know too much about baseball, but also for folks like me who have been a baseball fan for over 50 years.

Robert C. Ross
July 2012

PS: I’ve substantially revised this review, and have re-purchased the essay — it resides in my memory, like many other essays Bottum has written.

It is well worth following Bottum on his blog, and taking a look at some of his poetry. I’ve purchased a copy of his The Second Spring, which is a collection of twenty-four poems set to fairly simple music. For folks without tin ears, they probably are easy to sing, but for me, they are much more fun to recite aloud. Some of them are set in Appalachia, and these sound particularly good on my hikes in the Ramapos. R.