Andrew S · Audiobook · Baseball · Classic · Fiction · In the Library · Sports

The Natural | by Bernard Malamud

The Natural by Bernard Malamud
(Perennial Classics, 2000, 228 pages)

Women – both problem and answer.

5/5 stars

Heather D · In the Library · Non-Fiction · Sports

The Matheny Manifesto | by Mike Matheny

The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old School Views on Success in Sports and Life
by Mike Matheny, with Jerry B. Jenkins
(Crown Archetype, 2015, 221 pages)

The Matheny Manifesto came about when a group of parents asked Mike Matheny if he would coach their youth baseball team. Being a Christian man, Matheny decided he needed time to think and pray about his decision. As part of his decision process he felt that he needed to express to the parents exactly what they could expect from him as their coach and also what he expected from them as his players and parents: all or nothing. He wanted to get everything out in the open so they could, in turn, see if they still wanted him to coach so he wrote them a five page letter. It wound up on the internet, went viral, someone called it a manifesto and then, voila, you have the Matheny Manifesto.

Matheny is the narrator in the book and he, of course, talks a lot about coaching both the youth ball teams and also the big leagues, but he also talks about his life as a ball player. He gives some great insight on how the game should be played at all ages.

Matheny’s powerful lesson of ‘do the right thing because it is the right thing to do’ was highlighted throughout his book. He stresses the importance of teaching this to children so they will have the tools to live honorably wherever life leads them. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate Matheny’s class and dignity and just how humble he is on and off of the field. This is an inspirational read that is well written and has a lot of food for thought.

In the Library · Medicine · Non-Fiction · Science · Sports · Ying L

Concussion | by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas
(Random House, 2015, 259 pages)

I really wanted to read this book before I see the movie. I was glad to find it on one of our library displays. It tells of the discovery of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in NFL players by Dr. Bennet Omalu. Dr. Omalu left Nigeria for the United States to become a pathologist. While working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh in 2002, Dr. Omalu performed the autopsy of famous football player, Mike Webster. After careful study of Webster’s brain, Dr. Omalu believed Webster suffered from dementia caused by repeated blows to the head similar to those of boxers. More examinations were done. Large accumulations of T-protein clumps were found in Webster’s brain, which affected Webster’s mood, emotions, and executive functions. Dr. Omalu concluded that Webster’s CTE was caused by concussions he suffered while playing football.

Dr. Omalu and his colleagues published the first paper on CTE in 2005. Over the next ten years, Dr. Omalu examined the brains of other deceased NFL players and found the same evidence. What’s surprising is that repeated mild concussions can cause CTE as well. Throughout the course of the investigation the NFL fought hard to suppress the truth. Many retired NFL players continue to struggle with cognitive and intellectual impairment, mood disorders, depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts. It’s heartbreaking to read stories of how these concussions destroyed football players’ lives and their families. About half of the book is devoted to Dr. Omalu’s personal life and how he achieved the American dream. I found that some of transitions between Dr. Omalu’s life and the concussion research were not as smooth as they could have been. Still, it’s a fantastic and captivating read. If you only have a moment, PBS has created a Timeline of the NFL’s Concussion Crisis. I highly recommend this book to people who are interested in medicine and contact sports and to the parents who will decide what sports their kids will play.

Here’s what happens when players’ helmets make head-to-head contact as described by Dr. Omalu on page 99:

Football players wear helmets, good protection for the skull. So it would be reasonable to think that the brain would be spared damaging impact… Anybody who knew anything about the anatomy of the head knew better. It was a simple matter of physics. The brain floats, is suspended in a kind of thick jelly inside the skull. If you hit the head hard enough, that brain is going to move, no matter what kind of protection you put around the skull. A helmet protects the skull. A helmet can’t keep the brain from sloshing around in that skull. If you hit your head hard enough, the brain goes bashing against the walls of the skull.

Biography · Heather D · In the Library · Non-Fiction · Sports

Molina | by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan

Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty
by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan
(Simon & Schuster, 2015, 259 pages)

I love the game of baseball and am a die-hard Cardinals fan so as soon as I saw the book Molina I knew it was a must-read for me. I was expecting to read a lot about baseball with a touch of Bengie Molina’s personal life. It was the complete opposite and I was wonderfully surprised.

It was enlightening to see Bengie not just as a World Series Champion (twice) and a Gold Glove winner (twice) but as a real human being. He goes into very vivid details of the triumphs and struggles he has endured in his personal life as well as in his baseball journey. Growing up in the Molina house meant that your life revolved around baseball. Bengie’s father, Pai, was a terrific athlete himself. As the boys (Bengie, Jose, and Yadier) grew older, Pai was their coach in little league and taught them everything he knew of the game. Along with teaching them the rules of the game, he taught them the rules of life which were all about love and respect. Bengie, Jose, and Yadier have taken these lessons to heart and they have led them to great accomplishments on and off the field.

Molina has a very close relationship with his parents, Pai and Mai, and his brothers, Jose and Yadier, whom he talks so highly of and tells some wonderful stories about. Reading this book you can see just how humble the Molina family is. The sacrifices made by Pai for his sons and the love, respect and support that they all show for each other is nothing short of inspiring. I think what amazed me the most was the fact that Bengie does not credit himself for any of his accomplishments but rather gives it all to Pai, Mai, Jose, and Yadier.

I highly recommend this book. You don’t have to know a lot about baseball to appreciate the compassion that this family shows towards one another and the desire to chase their lifelong dreams. Anyone who chooses to read this book will be touched.

Thank you to Bengie Molina for sharing such intimate details of your life with us so that we can come to know and love the three Molinas behind the mask! 🙂