It was written 50 years ago by Jim Brosnan but is really one of the greatest baseball books ever published. The title's a reminder that the season has the more than occasional awful day -- a reminder to fans like me who want to see the Orange and Black go 162-0, then have to endure a total buttkick like the one today in Denver.Ubaldo Jimenez tied the Rox record for wins in a season today with 17, Owen Perkins of mlb.com notes in his game story.
He's now tied with the illustrious trio of Pedro Astacio, Jeff Francis and Kevin Ritz (!!!???)
Amazingly, there hasn't been a 20-game winner in the MLB since 2008 when Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb got 22 each. This guy could get 25 wins, which no one has gotten since Bob Welch got 27 for Oakland back in 1990. The Big Unit got 24 in 2002 for the most in the NL during the decade; Zito got the highest in the AL for the decade that year with 23.
But back to "The Long Season," which I read when I was an adolescent and have re-read at least half a dozen times since along with "Pennant Race," which chronicles the Reds winning the pennant in 1961. Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post agrees with me -- it's a great read even half a century later.Here's part of the review -- "The Long Season" gives pleasure on any number of levels. It conveys, as no other book ever has, the dailiness of baseball, with its season that not merely is long but provides an endless, often inexplicable succession of ups and downs. One day in 1958, pitching against the San Francisco Giants, Brosnan gave up a homer that "cleared the back wall of the right-field bleachers, at the 425-foot mark, causing sportswriters to go dashing out of the press box with a tape measure." In 1959, with the game on the line, he faced the same batter again: "Did he hit it out again? He did not. He tapped it right back to me, like a good little boy, and we had a double play to retire the side." As he says: "This game will drive you batty." Or, as he writes a week later:
". . . Man, that's the way it goes in this game. You make your pitch, and if it's the right pitch, it works . . . most of the time. If it's the wrong pitch, you find out soon enough, and they tell you soon enough, also. If you don't believe them, they send you somewhere else so they don't have to listen to you; and so that you can ponder by yourself the misfortune that has struck you. Etc." Baseball is a tough game and, as that passage indicates, a merciless one as well. A couple of bad appearances -- in which, as is often the case, you make all the right pitches but don't get the right results -- and you're in the doghouse, or the minors, or on a plane to join another team.