Bookshelf review — for your convenience: Damn Yankees

May 8, 2012

[Note: My spring baseball roundup appears on and is reposted here as individual reviews for your convenience.]

Former Sports Illustrated executive editor Rob Fleder assembled his own literary All-Star team for Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World’s Most Loved (and Hated) Team.

The roster includes such “players” as Roy Blount Jr., Dan Barry, Jane Leavy, Charley Pierce, Will Leitch, Colum McCann, Daniel Okrent, Frank DeFord, Bill James and Tom Verducci, among others.

Not everyone is enamored of the Bronx Bombers, which is refreshing. Some take issue with the team for being too good, or too cocky, or too conservative (they were among the last teams to sign a black player). Blount and Pierce, being “outsiders” (the former was born in Indianapolis but grew up in Georgia, the latter is a staunch New Englander), can be expected to be a bit on the “negative” side, while Leavy, a Mantle fan since childhood, writes about her favorite player’s home run relationship with a Red Sox pitcher. McCann recalls how he indoctrinated his Irish father into the ways of the national pastime via the Yankees. And Nathaniel Rich sticks up for his favorite NY team, the Mets, as he discusses the almost symbiotic relationship between the rivals’ fans and whether the word Schadenfreude is really appropriate.

Some contributors, merely by dint of being writers, have had problems with the team, as players who might be heroes to others have different feelings towards the media. Kudos to all the participants for sharing their personal feelings on the topic.

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