Blogging from A-Z – Book review: ‘Intentional Walk’

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “I.” (I’m blogging the alphabet in April. Read the details at Suzy & Spice here or the Blogging from A-Z page here.)

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BerkmanGraphicCardinal red runs through my family’s veins. Well … at least most of them.

For me it’s Dodger blue.

And when I say “me,” I mean Me, Myself and I. As far as I can tell, I am the one and only Dodgers fan in my family. (It started in the mid-1970s with Steve Garvey; I was in junior high.)

A couple of years ago, when our two teams met in the playoffs, things got a little tense at Mom’s house. (Bruce and I watch games there because she’s the one with the TV.) I had to watch in frustration as yet another Dodgers team fell just short of a World Series berth. Oh, well; I’ll always have 1978 (that’s the first year they won the pennant after I switched my loyalty from the Reds).

But once the Dodgers are out of a pennant race, I become a true-blue Cardinals fan and my mother and I can be lovey-dovey again. 🙂 (Bruce just sits on the sidelines and keeps his mouth shut – mostly – because he’s a fellow who knows what’s good for him.)

IntentionalWalkCoverI knew that my favorite Cards pitcher, Adam Wainwright, team manager Mike Matheny and left fielder Matt Holliday professed to be Christians, but I hadn’t realized that the team was known for having several Christians on its roster – until I saw Intentional Walk on the BookLook Bloggers list. Although I jumped at the chance to read the book, it has taken me a couple of years to get around to writing the review. (Don’t judge me. The BookLook folks don’t; they just won’t send me another free book until I post this review!)

Written by Rob Rains, the book is subtitled “An Inside Look at the Faith that Drives the St. Louis Cardinals.” In it, I learned the faith backgrounds of several players and crew members.

It didn’t go deep, though.

The book, while interesting, is uneven in spots and at times seems to have been written by a high school student who spent a few weeks doing research and then strung some interesting facts into a book report for senior English. The writing is a bit unsophisticated, and I’d like to have gone a little deeper with some of the stories. (I probably would’ve given the student a C+ … maybe a B-.)

Each chapter is a mini-bio of a particular player and his faith walk. And each chapter begins with a Bible verse, but many times I was left scratching my head as to what the verse meant to the particular player or how it related to the summary of his faith. The author did a poor job of connecting the dots. (Did he just pick a bunch of verses that sounded good and slap them on each chapter?)

But at least one reference made sense: “Kolten Wong’s faith is with him every day – his favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 3:6, is tattooed onto his back.” This revelation is in the middle of the chapter on James Ramsey and Wong, who at the time (2012) were just team prospects – they weren’t playing in St. Louis yet.

Despite some foul balls (sorry, I can’t help myself), the book does score on some levels.

The prologue alone is worth the price of admission. It gives insights into Matheny’s character and includes a letter he wrote to parents of a Little League team he managed in the late-2000s, after he retired as a player. In it, Matheny outlines what he expects of the players and their parents. I like his honesty:

“I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents. … I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans.”

He outlines his three main goals for the team, then says, “We may not win every game, but we will be the classiest coaches, players, and parents in every game we play. The boys are going to play with a respect for their teammates, opposition, and the umpires, no matter what.”

And the chapter on broadcaster and former pitcher Rick Horton talks about a dark period for the team in 2002: the deaths – four days apart – of broadcaster Jack Buck, who had worked for the Cardinals nearly 50 years, and 33-year-old player Darryl Kile.

The story of Matheny’s reaction to Kile’s death is poignant. Matheny, a catcher at the time, was extremely close to pitcher Kile. I’ll let you read that story for yourself.

This is a decent book that gives an inside look into some Cardinals’ lives. I wouldn’t say Rains knocked it out of the park, but he didn’t strike out, either. (Sorry; I have a sickness.) It was a pleasant enough read, well worth the $2.99 on Kindle or, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Cards fan, maybe the full price for a hard copy at Christianbook.com ($11.99) or Amazon (paperback starting at $7.80).

I just wish it came with a box of Cracker Jacks.

BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze) sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in receiving free books for writing unbiased reviews, visit BookLook here.

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Tomorrow: J is for ‘juvenile’ (or Type 1) diabetes.

Follow me on Twitter: @OakleySuzyT

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One thought on “Blogging from A-Z – Book review: ‘Intentional Walk’

  • Friday, April 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm
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    In all good conscience, I can’t cry foul ball with your puns because I’m just as punny myself.

    By the way, it turns out that I can’t gift an audio book like I had hoped. I could gift the e-book copy if you want though. Or if you’re willing to wait, I can try and get a code for the audio book for you. It just might take a while for me to obtain one. Either way, I will see that you get a free copy regardless.

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