Extra inning baseball book reviews for 2020: How to make the Dodgers-Yankees rivalry become historically dull, dim-witted and disappointingly vapid … but not out of left field

Dodgers yankees 2019
In Aug., ’19, the Yankees came to L.A. to face the Dodgers in a highly-publicized interleague matchup. And MLB made them wear these ridiculous uniforms, starting with Dave Roberts and Aaron Boone exchanging the lineup cards. Photo by Richard Mackson/USA Today.

Dodgers vs. Yankees: The Long-Standing Rivalry Between Two of Baseball’s Greatest Teams

cover
The author:

Michael Schiavone

The publishing info:
Sports Publishing/Skyhorse
$24.95
288 pages
Released June 30, 2020 (after original promised release dates of May 5 and June 2)

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com
At Powells.com
At Target.com
At Indiebound.org

The review in 90 feet or less

Who can really tell what the future brings at this point? “Past performance is no guarantee of future results” could be the motto of what the 2020 MLB season comes to be, if it actually comes to be. Yet if they make it to late October week and discover a Dodgers-Yankees matchup in the World Series awaits — is it best three-of-five now with six DHs per side? — that would seem to give odds makers a reason to feel some validation, for whatever they seem to be espousing at this point in time based on no idea who else will opt out of playing, who becomes sick and … the world’s future condition in general.

The Dodgers currently launch as as a 15/4 favorite to win it all, just ahead of the 4/1 Yankees by VegasInsider.com, while at Vegas.com, it’s the Yankees (3/1) over the Dodgers (6/1). There’s Forbes.com citing something called SportsInformationTraders.com that has the Dodgers (+375) with an edge over the Yankees (+450). At BetOnLine.ag, they are co-favorites at  +400.

14682a_medSo now in anticipation of this projected occurrence, if we were to calculate odds on whether this latest book from Michael Schiavone actually gives us something to advance our education and/or entertainment of the history of the Dodgers-Yankees rivalry – it goes back to the 1941 World Series, most recently to that 1981 strike-plagued campaign, and then a few inter-league meetings that resulted in some oddly-dressed version in 2019 – they would be far longer than the 1,000-to-1 we’ve already seen pinned on chances that the Orioles, Tigers or Marlins have in winning the 2020 title.

The low-bar expectancy is solely based on Schiavone’s 2018 travesty, “Dodgers: 60 Years in Los Angeles,” which is summed up in a back-cover blurb by Molly Knight as a “must-read for not only Dodger fans but for anyone interested in how America’s pastime went national.” This gives its content some benefit of the doubt based on an opinion by the author of the equally dubious “Best Team Money Can Buy” mess of a book about the Guggenheim Dodgers a few years ago that is nothing more than a scripted press release than any sort of journalistic endeaver.

Nonetheless, because it involves a title focused on local history, and we assume readers could often be swayed only by that fact, we dug into it, process it and came up with our conclusion:

In what reads like a high school term paper without the proper footnotes, regurgitated from publications by a writer in Australia who admits to being a fan of the team since the 1988 World Series, we’re left with something that fans of the franchise may quickly want to pour through, but again, what’s fresh about it?

With this latest book landing in this time and place in our history, we suggest efficiency in extracting that paragraph above and placing it … let’s see … right about here … bring the left side up a bit … OK, that’s it. It perfectly frames our dismay again.

How it goes in the scorebook

Repetitiously pedestrian. Irksomely insulting. Listless laziness.

We keep books like this in our collection, actually, as cautionary tales.

Don’t do it this way. You set a low bar, and don’t even reach that by over-promising and further underachieving.

And we should have surmised as much based on the fact Knight’s previous moldy praise of “Dodgers: 60 Years In Los Angeles” is also included on the back of this one.

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Consider the possibilities of what could be done in offering a fresh perspective about the 12 times that the Dodgers and Yankees have met up in the World Series. How would you pitch that to a publisher?

= New interviews with players and historians, famous people and those not so famous;
= Comparison it to rivalries from other sports and how it stands in the greater consciousness to generate some discussion;
= Historical photos accessible through public libraries or team files at the very least;
= Box scores, statistical charts, “Did you know?” pullout boxes, famous quotes from each World Series encounter …

All the kind of stuff you’ll find in modern media outlets from Los Angeles and New York if and when this matchup occurs in a few months. Otherwise, you gain as much historical perspective from reading a newspaper’s Page 1 blurb of the Yankees’ 1953 World Series win asking you to turn 20 pages inside for more information.

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No idea what Schiavone looks like.

Maybe we expect too much from someone apparently ill prepared for such a project. From his bio — Schiavone, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Flinders University and a PhD from the Australian National University, once did something called “Sports and Labor in the United States” which was longlisted (is that an accomplishment?) for the 2016 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, and he is working on the forthcoming “Wrestling and American Society” — we shouldn’t be holding a high bar.

Yet, in today’s struggling world of book publishing, if an author can neither entertain, explain, inform nor persuade, what else is there to offer a reader? Recycling the works of others far more capable and proficient on this subject isn’t doing anyone a service.

il_570xN.1107633860_9kta

At best, the work here can only be fodder to use in an argument that that existing generic Wikipedia posts about the Dodgers-Yankees rivalry are a far more functional read. At worst, the author could have offered some personal anecdotes about processing this historical clash of the titans, and even have fun pointing out how strange (and strangely ugly) it looked to see the Dodgers in all white and the Yankees in all black when they had to do that Players’ Weekend meeting in August, 2019.

This book does none of that. We are to presume the author didn’t even know that happened. Here’s a refresh of recent history:

2019-players-weekend-dodgers-yankees

Instead, we are promised in the preface a question to be answered — “The Yankees domination over the Dodgers always intrigued me. Were the Yankees so much better than the Dodgers? Were the Dodgers ‘chokers’ when it mattered most? Or was it simply the case that the baseball gods were actually malevolent and favored the team that would be later known to its detractors as the Evil Empire over the boys in blue? In the following pages, I will provide a history of the Dodgers-Yankees rivalry and try to answer the question that has mystified me for so many years.”

And by the finish line of this dredgery, we are left with this:  “In the end, the Yankees were just that damn good.”

That’s followed by three pages of biographical notes — come on, middle school kids, it’s now time to show your work — and the list of reference books already done on this subject are reminders of what we’ve missed. Most notably Roger Kahn’s “The Era, 1947-1957,” in 2014, Michael Leahy’s 2016 book “The Last Innocents,” and Jason Turbow’s “They Bled Blue,” in 2019.

“And I would be remiss if I did not mention my recently updated book on the Dodgers covering the team’s time in Los Angeles, ‘The Dodgers: 60 Years in Los Angeles’ (Sports Publishing, 2020).”

As we are remiss in failing to note that it has been updated, if not upgraded.

After Schiavone did his first book, the fansite DodgersDigest.com included this in a Q&A:

no-image-provided
We still have no idea what Michael Schiavone looks like.

Q: Do you plan to write any more books in the future? Would you consider writing an addendum to the book to cover 2018-2019 and round out the decade?
A: There will be an addendum to the book if the publisher wants it; it is not up to me. As for anymore books, there are talks about me writing a new baseball book; one that is Dodger related. Quite simply, if my publisher is happy with how The Dodgers: 60 Years in Los Angeles sells I will be writing another Dodger related book. If they are not happy with how The Dodgers sells, there will not be another baseball book from me. So, please buy my book so I can write another one!

We beg your pardon.

 

 

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