MUSINGS FROM THE MARGINS
Disclaimer: This is not a book review. I don’t write book reviews. I don’t like book reviews.
Unwittingly, during the winter months — usually soon after the final out of the World Series — when I can’t watch baseball, I read about it. A lot.
I started reading earlier than usual this year after exploring my local bookstore for potential options where I found two intriguing titles: The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski and For the Good of the Game by Bud Selig.
If possible, I try to buy the hard copy of the book. I like physical books. It is just a preference of mine. I also tell you this because it explains the title of the post, “Musings from the Margins.”
My books are not collectors items. They cannot be passed on to another baseball fan. They are dog-eared, coffee-stained, underlined, highlighted, words are circled, arrows point to the margins referencing ideas, connected sources to like subjects and so on. My personal book collection begins as a educational tool, but once I begin reading the pages it morphs into a notebook and a resource. It’s not surprising to find scattered, random musings in the margins throughout most of my titles. By the time I am done with them, they are rendered useless.
Posnanski’s new book is a breathtaking 880 pages and Simon and Schuster calls The Baseball 100 a “magnum opus … an audacious, masterly book … a one-of-a-kind work … [an] epic and often emotional reading experience … engrossing, surprising, and heartfelt, The Baseball 100 is a magisterial tribute to the game of baseball …”
Expected, right? I mean, Simon and Schuster is the publisher. They want to sell books.
But, wow, with a description like that, I can only imagine baseball fans will have high expectations when they crack this one open. I know, I did.
But as I stated in the disclaimer, I am not here to judge the content or the editorial. What I will do is share my thoughts on the players, games and events written about in the book.
I hope you will join me on this journey and add your thoughts and feedback in the comments section. I hope we can build a healthy community and open the floor to some great debates we explore Posnanski’s list of top 100 players.
Posnanski’s list begins with Ichiro Suzuki. If Ichiro had started his career in the United States at age 20, I feel sure he would have broken Pete Rose’s hit record (4,256 regular season hits and 4,354 hits including postseason), wrote Posnanski.
Technically, Ichiro compiled 4,394 total hits (combined regular/postseason hits from Japan and U.S.). Posnanski added, ... those years in Japan don’t count but they do give us a pretty good idea of how good Ichiro would have been if he had started in the United States.
The most eye-opening statistic that I learned about Ichiro through Posnanski: Nobody ever hit singles like him. He led the league in singles 10 years in a row. Two players in the history of the game have had 200 singles in a season. One is Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 (225 singles). The other is Ichiro Suzuki in 2007.
The second stat that caught my eye: Ichiro won a Gold Glove and made the American League All Star team every year over the first 10 years of his Major League Baseball career. In addition, Suzuki won the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Award in his first season in the majors. But the interesting note is the fact that Ichiro did not make the All Star Team, nor did he win a Gold Glove or MVP honor over the final 10 years of his career (plus, a two-game stint in a final “goodbye” appearance in 2019 with the Seattle Mariners). He never collected 200 hits in a single season. He never hit over .300 again. For as good as he was the first 10 seasons in the MLB, Suzuki was equally average over the second half of his career. I do think it is fair to note that Ichiro was much older than most at the time. He started the final 10 years of his MLB career at age 37.
He will be on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2024.
So, is he a Hall of Famer?
MUSINGS FROM THE MARGINS
THE BASEBALL 100 BY JOE POSNANSKI
The Baseball 100 treats readers to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Chapter by chapter, Posnanski invites readers to examine common lore with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard. The epic and often emotional reading experience mirrors Posnanski’s personal odyssey to capture the history and glory of baseball like no one else, fueled by his boundless love for the sport.