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home : columns : dave fjeld
July 5, 2020

5/20/2020 11:07:00 AM
Book reviews II
Reviewing books at this stage of the season - and COVID-19 game - is probably a little late. Now that spring is here and the governor has finally dialed back his Stay Home MN order to a Stay Safe MN order, people are ready to get out and about. We've been cooped up for the past two months as if we've been socked away in a two-month winter deep freeze - like 30 below zero with a minus 60 wind chill for 60 straight days.
If you didn't realize how much we missed seeing each other, all you had to do was take a stroll around the Square for Windom's Crazy Days-Quarantine Style event. I saw people milling around the Square and eagerly ready to talk with anyone and everyone.
I picked up take-out food at Plaza Jalisco on Friday evening and was one of five in the restaurant waiting for my food (yes, they were busy, which was great to see). Under normal circumstances there might have been a little chit-chat, but we were more likely checking our phones.
Not in these times. All of us were talking - about anything and everything. Just the opportunity to talk with someone was a much needed salve to a long social separation.
So, these looks at a few of my more enjoyable reads is certainly coming at the wrong time. However, you may find any or all of these as just the thing you want on a cold, rainy day where the only place you can be (again) is inside.
To review, I read:
•  "Play by Play: Calling the Wildest Games in Sports - From SEC Football to College Basketball, the Masters and More" by Verne Lundquist with Gary Brozek.
•  "Curveball" by Barry Zito with Robert Noland.
•  "The 1997 Masters: My Story" by Tiger Woods with Lane Rubenstein.
•  "The Last Stand of Payne Stewart" by Kevin Robbins.
•  "For the Good of the Game" by Bud Selig with Phil Rogers.
•  "Contrapasso" by Nathan Jorgenson.
I made a quick review of the first three books last week and here's a quick review of the latter three, with surprising emphasis on one.
The one novel out of the six books is a long, but entertaining read - "Contrapasso" by Nathan Jorgenson. I'm not a novel reader, but if Jorgenson has a new book out, I'm going to read it. He takes a little deeper look into life with this 600-pager. But in typical Jorgenson fashion, he has you in tears at one point; laughing hysterically at the next. As a teaser, a ladies' shopping tale after a visit to a certain restaurant is one of the funniest episodes I think I've ever read.
As always, Jorgenson has you wanting to read one more chapter.
Kevin Robbins' retrospect on the life and golf career of Payne Stewart was an interesting one, especially considering I've never read anything else on Stewart. He was a rather brash, young upstart early in his career and his antics didn't always sit well with the prim and properness of the PGA tour. But at the time of his tragic death, he had transformed himself into a more humble man whom many respected.
The one book I almost didn't pick up, "For the Good of the Game," surprised me. I was never a big Bud Selig fan, but his autobiography showed me a different side of him. Granted, he's sharing what he wants the reader to know and from his perspective only, but he comes off in a much better light than I had viewed him during his days as "acting commissioner for life," as Keith Olberman used to call him.
He is a baseball man, through and through, and he discusses some of the action he took during his commissioner days, especially some of the behind-the-scenes dealings with owners to get some important measures passed - very eye-opening.
But the one thing I had hoped to get from his story is an apology, or at least some small admission he may have been wrong, in asking owners to contract the Minnesota Twins back in 2001. I never got that and he only discussed that situation briefly. On the other hand, maybe the brevity of the topic is his way of indicating it wasn't his best moment.
If you're curious about Selig the man and the board room dealings of Major League Baseball over the past 50 years, this is a book worth your time.

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