Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Readers: Your Chance to Write a Book that will Make Pirates Fans Cry

I just finished David Halberstam’s “Summer of ‘49”, and though I would only recommend it to serious baseball fans with an ardent appreciation for history, it is worth a read if only to better understand a truly interesting point in baseball/America’s history. Attendance was soaring as society wanted to forget WWII and return to their beloved game, integration was changing the face of the game, television was altering baseball’s nuances both on the field and in the contract negotiations, and first-generation immigrants like DiMaggio were proving that baseball really could be a game for everyone.

I love books that pick a certain point in time and reflect on what was occurring at the time that had long-term implications. I was fortunate enough to have lunch recently with David Maraniss, author of biographies about Lombardi and Clemente, and we chatted about the book he is working on that details how the 1960 Olympics sparked the modern era in sports, examining how television, doping, Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, The United German Team, and other factors had a colossal effect on the modern sports landscape (editor’s note: I apologize, that was a Dan Patrick-sized name-drop. If you listen to Dan Patrick’s radio show, you know what I am talking about. “So I was shooting hoops with Tiger yesterday…”, “So I was on the course with MJ and…”).

Anyways, I began thinking about a particular point in time that might be worth an exploration: Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, Braves vs. Pirates. I know, I know – painful to think about. But consider that each team was in the EXACT same position that year, and then consider what transpired…

Pittsburgh Pirates: 14 losing seasons
Atlanta Braves: Twelve Division Titles, a second and third placedivision finish, 1 World Series, 2 World Series losses, reached 2ndround of every MLB playoffs in the 90's.

Obviously a drastic change occurred in and around that fateful series in 1992 that caused such a discrepancy between the directions each club headed. Could you in fact say that this series perhaps marked the beginning of The Modern Era of Baseball, i.e., the Era of Free Agency and Small Market Futility? Or are the Pirates just simply a glitch in the system that suffered not from some cataclysmic shift in the baseball universe, but instead from their own horrific mismanagement? The answer is, as always, likely somewhere in between. But still, I’d love to see someone tackle it more thoroughly.

E-mail us with your thoughts at doubtaboutit@gmail.com.

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