mr. blackandwhite

Book review: ‘A View from the Booth: Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti - 25 Years of Broadcasting the New England Patriots’
October 3, 2009, 11:00 am
Filed under: Books,The Pats | Tags: , , ,

Back in August (seems like forever ago) I read a most excellent book called, 'A View from the Booth: Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti - 25 Years of Broadcasting the New England Patriots,' written by Jim Baker and Chuck Burgess. I've been meaning to do a quick review of this book for a while now but I just keep getting too busy, somehow. Funny how that happens!

I started reading this book on my summer vacation, as the Patriots were preparing for their first pre-season game. It was a great way to lead into the brand new Patriots football season, and with The Pats celebrating their 50th season this year, enjoying a book about Gino Cappelletti and Gil Santos couldn't have been more appropriate. 

Now, onto the book, which I will describe as, MOST AWESOME. As a Patriots fan and a weekly listener to Gil and Gino's broadcast during Patriots games, I really enjoyed reading this book, which intertwines the history of the New England Patriots with the respective careers of broadcaster Gil Santos and player, coach, broadcaster and should be Hall of Famer, Gino Cappelletti (seriously, how is Gino not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.. People, WTF!!). 

The book describes Gil and Gino's background as youngsters, goes through the first steps of each man's early days as a broadcaster and as a pro football player and carries us all the way up to their time together broadcasting the Patriots' 2007 season (ok, that reminds me there's one chapter in the book that may give Pats fans a twinge or two while reading, but don't let it ruin the book for you!)

The book also provides a lot of great and often humorous insider stories about The New England Patriots and what goes on, and goes in, to producing a Patriots Football radio broadcast every week (I loved the stories about the team's superstitions). 

In reading this book I often laughed out loud at some of the stories these two legends had to tell about their days on the field as a player / coach and as broadcasters in the booth covering the games of my favorite team. Plus, the book includes Gil and Gino's Gormet Guide, a list of their favorite restaurants in each NFL city. You can't go wrong there, especially when Gino gives the reader permission when visiting the listed establishments to 'tell them Gino sent you'.

At under two hundred pages, 'A View from the Boothis a quick, easy and extremely entertaining read for any Patriots fan, or a fan of the game of Football in general. Check it out. 


Book Review: The Best Boston Sports Arguments
December 18, 2007, 8:00 am
Filed under: Books

I recently finished reading a very interesting book called The Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans (whew!). The book is written by two newspaper columnists that most Boston sports fans should be familiar with, Jim Caple of ESPN and Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald.

The book leans pretty heavily towards the Red Sox side of things, with 50 of the 100 arguments being geared towards the Sox. You could essentially call the book, ‘The 50 greatest Red Sox arguments, with some Celts, Bs and a few Pats arguments thrown in for good measure’.

Overall I liked the book. It’s an easy read, with each argument broken up into it’s own chapter, each of which are generally only two to three pages long. There are a lot of interesting facts and pleasant memories from Boston sports lore that are discussed in the book, as well as an occasional history lesson for readers who assuredly know the names of Boston’s greatest athletes but may not be all that familiar with some of their feats.

The book also does it’s job of presenting some arguments that people might disagree with as well. In reading the book, there were a few ‘arguments’ that definitely got under my skin a bit, though that might have been in part due to the general tone of the writing. The fact is, the book is not really a collection of arguments, but a collection of opinions in which Buckley and Caple tell you the way things are, and if you happen to disagree, well you don’t really know what you’re talking about anyway.

Your enjoyment of the book may depend a lot on your sensitivity to the, at times, condescending, ‘we’re professional sportswriters and you’re not’ tone of co-writers Buckley and Caple. If you are someone who generally likes to read sports columnists and generally agrees with what they have to say, then you will probably like this book. If you are someone like me, who tends to find sports columnists somewhat grating, you might not enjoy the book as much, but, then again, the book is called The Best Boston Sports Arguments, so I guess a somewhat confrontational tone should be expected.

One of the undertones in this book that continually got on my nerves was the general sentiment that all of the recent success of the current Boston Red Sox, culminating with their winning of the World Series in ’04, could never truly compare with the success of Red Sox teams from the now distant past, even though, that past ‘success’ was usually underscored by a very painful failure, (if that makes any sense).

Of course, this reeks of Buckley who has a well known obsession with nostalgia and ‘old tyme’ baseball. Anyone familiar with Buckley’s work should be able to quickly pick out the ‘arguments’ that were written by him. (Oh yes, he gets all of the Tony C arguments that you’ve probably read or heard from him a hundred times into the book.)

I’m sorry guys but I disagree with the ‘argument’ that the ’75 Red Sox were better than the ’04 team. Forget the nostalgia. Who’s got the rings? There’s no argument there in my mind. There’s just something about bringing home a big shiny piece of hardware that tends to make me think the ’04 team trumps ’86, ’75, ’67 and all the others going back to 1918 or so. But that’s just me. I’m not a pro sportswriter after all..

In the end, if you are a fan of Boston Sports, particularly the Red Sox, you really can’t go wrong with The Best Boston Sports Arguments. It’s a quick and easy read that is both fun and yes, at times even educational, and hey, arguing about sports is what half the fun is all about, right?

Book Review: Little League, Big Dreams
September 25, 2007, 8:00 am
Filed under: Books,Sports

I recently finished reading a very interesting and enjoyable book called Little League, Big Dreams, by Charles Euchner. I happened to finish the book, coincidentally, just about the time that the 2007 Little League World Series was wrapping up.

Little League, Big Dreams uses the 2005 Little League World Series as the back-drop to present the underlying theme of the book, what Euchner calls, ‘The Professionalism of Childhood’. In the book Euchner describes the hard work and sacrifice that these young baseball players go through (some may say, endure) in order to make it into the Little League World Series tournament.

There were a number of areas that struck me when reading this book. The biggest thing that stood out was the dedication and sacrifice that coaches, parents and, most importantly, kids are willing to make in order to win these Little League baseball games.

The book describes kids who are willing to sacrifice permanent, long term damage to their not yet fully-developed arms in order to win. High pitch counts (at times throwing close to, and sometimes over 100 pitches in a game), pitching on three days rest, and throwing the dangerous curve ball, whatever it takes to win. It describes the coaches who demand this of their players and the parents who allow it all to happen.

Is it worth it? Is it worth having a 12 year old kid cause permanent damage to his arm to win a Little League baseball game? It is suggested at one point that Little League baseball is burning out the arms of talented kids who could potentially become big-league pitchers some day. You want to know the reason for the demise of pitching in today’s game? Take a look at what’s going on in Little League.

The book also spends a lot of time describing Little League coaches; grown men, some of whom are former big-league players themselves, treating Little League baseball as if it were the big leagues, and demanding the same types of sacrifices from their young players. Do these men take things a little bit too far over ‘a kid’s game’?

Focusing on teams from Hawaii, California and the Carribian nation of Curacao, Eucher describes the ideology of each team and the various methods that are used in order to get into the tournament. He describes kids giving up an entire summer to baseball, 6 days a week of training and practice, ‘every day but Sunday’ for an entire summer (sounds like fun?) He describes the different types of Leagues that are out there, Cal Ripken Baseball, PONY League, various travel teams, and how they are basically used as a training ground for the real goal of winning the Little League tournaments that will get your team into the World Series.

The quality of play in Little League baseball might not be as high as the competition a team will face in a PONY League or Cal Ripken League game, but those leagues have nothing that compares to the potential fame and fortune of making it to the Little League World Series. Do they show the PONY League World Series games on ESPN or talk about them in the newspapers sports pages?

Euchner also spends time on the business of Little League: the sponsorships, the money, the endorsements and the media attention that goes into these games. There’s big money to be made on Little League baseball.

I should also point out that the book is not a cover-to-cover inditement of Little League. Euchner spends time describing the history of Little League baseball, where it all started and how it got to where it is today. He describes the setting of the Little League World Series tournament itself and the fun and enjoyment that the kids have simply being there. How, even with a giant spotlight on them, kids are still kids having fun.

If you have an interest in baseball and want to get a different perspective on the sport, a focus on kids emulating grown-ups, (grown-ups who are playing a kids game,) or if you are a parent who’s child is taking part in organized youth sports, I think you will find Little League, Big Dreams to be both an interesting and enlightening read.

As I was reading it, I found myself asking, what would I ask my kid to do to win a baseball game? What would I allow? It’s easy to sit back and say, ‘I would never allow my kid to sacrifice their health over a Little League baseball game,’ but in the heat of the moment, with the game on the line, would one more pitch wind up becoming just two more? Don’t be surprised if you find you are asking yourself those very same questions.

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The Last Nine Innings: A book review
November 9, 2006, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Books,Sports

I don’t normally do book reviews here but I recently finished reading a very interesting and extremely enjoyable book entitled, The Last Nine Innings by Charles Euchner.

The Last Nine Innings uses Game Seven of the 2001 World Series between The New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks as a dramatic backdrop to discuss the game of professional baseball as it is today.

The book follows each inning of the climactic game of one of the most exciting World Series to take place in recent years and on it’s way, describes some of the changes that have taken place in the game of baseball, such as the increased usage of statistics to help Managers make critical in-game decisions, the internationalization of the game that has come from the influx of players from regions such as Latin America and Asia, and the advanced training techniques used by today’s baseball players to keep their bodies in top shape over the course of a 162 game season. I found Euchner’s interview of Steve Finley and his description of the workout regiment Finley uses in order to increase his overall body strength and flexibility to be extremely interesting.

There were several parts of this book that I particularly enjoyed, such as it’s description of the ever increasing mix of statistics along with old-school gut feelings during games and how the two work together to shape the outcome of a game.

Euchner details the training methods and thought processes of the athletes that played in the 2001 World Series. Through player interviews intermixed with descriptions of the game’s action, he talks about what they are thinking when they come to the plate, their different swinging styles, hitting stances, and how a player will use the position of their hands on the bat to affect how and where a ball will land on a hit. He describes how a player positions himself in the field, and how, as a pitcher throws to the plate, fielders keep their bodies prepared to be able to run, catch, field and throw the ball in order to make the necessary plays to win the game.

The part of the book that I most enjoyed was Euchners’ descriptions of the thought processes and methods that dominant pitchers such as Curt Shilling, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson use when facing batters throughout the game. From training, pre-game preparation, and in-game strategies, pitch to pitch, Euchner describes what these great pitchers do in order to get strikes, or to get a ball to ground out or pop up to where they know their defense can catch it for an out.

Euchner devotes entire chapters to Shilling, Clemens and Johnson. As a Red Sox fan, it was great to read about Curt Shilling’s approach to every game, and how he goes into every game looking for perfection. He starts every game trying for a no-hitter. If someone gets on base, he strives for a one-hitter, and then moves on from there.

The Last Nine Innings was an enjoyable read that I think will fascinate both the casual baseball fan and the hard-core fan that never misses a game. Whichever group you happen to fall into, I can tell you firsthand that you will learn something from this book and after reading it, you will watch the game of baseball with a new insight and perspective.

For baseball fans who are waiting for Spring Training to arrive, this is a great book to help get you through the winter. Check it out if you get a chance.

American Soldier’s book is coming out soon!
August 26, 2005, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Books

I got an e-mail from American Soldier asking to help him spread the word about his upcoming book. This is the least I can do for him! Great news AS!

New Book Detailing the Everyday Life of an American Soldier’s Experience with The War on Terror from LBF Books

PITTSBURGH, PA , Aug. 18 - LBF Books to publish Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier (ISBN 1-885093-44-6 ). The book details the author’s experiences while deployed and back home, weaving a gut-wrenching, heartfelt tapestry of experiences and emotions unique to soldiers’ living and dying in this war. American Soldier’s work comprised of elements drawn from his critically acclaimed and widely read weblog (, aims to bring the grim, yet human face of war to readers everywhere.

The author, writing under a pseudonym to protect his identity, delivers a first-person account of the constantly changing world of an American Soldier attempting to balance both family and responsibility while enduring the reality of war. Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier chronicles the events engulfing modern day patriots, and the hardships he willingly endured to ensure safety and security of family and country left behind.

Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier is required reading for those looking for an intimate insight into the minds of fathers, husbands, and warriors serving in this war.

LBF Books plans to release Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier in December, 2005.

American Soldier & LBF Books will be donating a large portion of the proceeds to Soldiers Angels ( and Operation Troop Appreciation ( Both organizations are federally recognized programs that assist Troops abroad with care packages and items needed while deployed.

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My War
August 7, 2005, 8:48 am
Filed under: Books,Life in General,Weblogs

C.B. has a new post up over at My War.

Get over there and read it while it’s still available. (And pre-order his book while you’re at it.)

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R.I.P. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
February 21, 2005, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Books,Current Affairs

I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson for the first time several months ago. It was one of the best books I have ever read; laugh your ass off funny and totally, utterly insane. I fucking loved it.

I was extremely saddened to learn that Dr. Thompson has apparently committed suicide. What a waste. What a goddamn mutherfucking waste.

People will be writing much better and more eloquent eulogies and accolades than I possibly can.

May you find peace (and a good time) where ever you are Doctor.

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