Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ultimate Cardinals' Record Book - Dan Moore

I asked for this for Christmas because I enjoyed Moore's work when he wrote for the Viva El Birdos website, so I figured I'd enjoy this. A choice based on writing style, more than any specific need for the book.

My dad opined it's fairly small for an "ultimate" record book, which is fair, but Moore's approach is to look at a general area of statistics, say single-season hitting records, and then pick a particular record and player, and discuss those in depth. So he spends a chapter discussing Mark McGwire hitting 70 home runs, or talking about the double-header where Stan Musial hit 5 home runs. Or Bob Forsch somehow managing to throw two no-hitters, despite generally striking out no one.

Interspersed in each chapter are small sections about other Cardinals' notable for one reason or another. Like Vince Coleman, who had one tool as a ballplayer - he was really fast - and used that to steal over 100 bases each of his first three years in the league, playing under Whitey Herzog. Or a section on Jim Bottomley, who was a great hitting first baseman on the Cardinals' teams of the 1920s (when the franchise first managed to actually be good after 25 years of flailing about).

Moore's style is easy to read, and he reined in the literary metaphors and references I was used to from his online writing*. Which was disappointing for me, personally, but understandable, and probably a smart choice in the larger picture. People are going to have certain expectations for a book about baseball team records. And Moore still seems to be having fun with it.

He worked in a sub-section about Ray Lankford, who I think is Moore's favorite player, and is underappreciated by Cardinals' fans, since his best years were wasted on mostly mediocre teams. I keep expecting him to get elected to the Cardinals' Hall of Fame in these games my dad and I attend, but I don't think he's even been listed as an option to vote for yet. I mean, Lankford is Top 5 in home runs for the franchise, ahead of even McGwire, he at least needs to be getting listed as a candidate.

'The no-hitter was impressive enough, but the story got more improbable still 10 days later when Jimenez beat the eventual Cy Young winner 1-0 again, blanking the Diamondbacks with a two-hitter. That year saw Jimenez post a 0.00 ERA against Randy Johnson and a 6.58 ERA against everyone else.'

* Moore wrote a post once about Skip Schumaker moving to second base, as some kind of Shakespearean play. Which didn't serve to make me any more enthusiastic about the Cards trying that, but was still a solid piece of writing.

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