- Aug 1, 2001
you know ESPN wants him. and what ESPN wants they usually get
So my announcement is that I will take the next 18 months or so to write a book for Simon & Schuster about the life and impact of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
Exactly. The great ones can use a seemingly minor or uninteresting person or story as an opening for a much wider and more interesting exploration. I'm sure many people responded with a collective yawn when they learned that Michael Lewis was going to write a book about the Oakland A's, or Buzz Bissinger was doing a book about a high-school football team in a Texas backwater town. Joe is really psyched about doing this, so I see no reason not to expect a great read.Certainly a surprising announcement. Paterno has never been all that compelling to me, and football has never been Poz's strong suit.
At the same time, college football is fertile ground for someone as perceptive as Joe and Paterno is a good vehicle for telling a larger story about how the game and the business of college sports have changed over the decades. To whatever degree Joe is going to delve into recruiting practices, booster clubs, player compensation - basically the whole awkward marraige of big-time sports and publicly-funded higher learning - sure, I'm absolutely excited to read Posnanski on all of the above. He's obviously demonstrated an ability to be critical of Major League Baseball while maintaining a clearly-stated passion for the game. If he brings that balance to college football this will be a great read.
MUCH bigger. This announcement has a "big whoop" feeling to it. So he's writing a book about Joe Pa. He wrote a book about Buck O'Neil and the Cincinnati Reds. Didn't need announcements for them. I agree with Lose, he can't stay away from the blog completely, but he probably won't write 4-5 columns a week, either. And that is a shame.Damn. Disappointing. Not because he's writing a book on an old football coach, its a subject I don't care about but am sure he will write a fine book about that I will read, but because the teases had me thinking bigger.
That's not really true at all, or, at least, it's no more true than saying that a painter doesn't deserve credit for a portrait because he's not the subject of the portrait. "I Was Right On Time" was Buck's book. "Soul of Baseball" was Joe's portrait of Buck - Joe takes a compelling character in Buck and shows how he interacts with people and the effect he has on them. There's also quite a bit about what Joe learns from Buck, which is something that probably wouldn't have come through as clearly with another writer. Buck is a fascinating person, sure, but lots of people are fascinating people.Soul of Baseball was great, but it was Buck's book.
I can confirm that (note the avatar). My wife used to travel to KC for business a few times/year, and every time Buck saw her he knew exactly who she was and made her feel like an old friend.The beauty of S of B was that, in the first few pages, Pos said that if you met Buck 1 time, you felt as if you were best friends. After reading the book, I felt that I was good friends with Buck.
JoePA is a big-time philanthropist who has given a ton of money back to Penn State -- and not for sports, either, but libraries, museums, charities, etc. A friend of the family had JoePA as a professor and said he was the best professor she had. And he graduates something like 80 percent of his players, he stresses academics, even today. Makes the players wear suit/sweater and ties on campus, like discipline.
The guy sold me on a playoff system when I was in the sixth grade, and this was years before the Penn State-Nebraska debate, soon followed by the Michigan-Nebraska debate, soon followed by the BCS. The Steelers wanted to hire JoePA as head coach in 1969, and they were supposedly close, but they eventually had to settle on Chuck Noll.
In short, while the NY Times and SI have done very in-depth profiles on JoePA in the past, there's a lot to tell, and many different directions it can go. And if JoePA happens to retire while writing the book, it could be like Buck O'Neill, documenting the end of era for someone the likes we might never see again. I'll pick up that book in a heartbeat.
I know plenty of people espouse this sort of humility and not really mean it, but I choose to believe Joe is genuine.My awards are in a cupboard under a sink in my basement, and it's important to me that they stay there. They day I really start believing I'm any good at this stuff, I fear, is the day I stop trying hard enough.
The differences between Simmons and Pos keep growing every day. I would also bet he's being genuine and his humility is evident in his writing as well as his apparent actions.I know plenty of people espouse this sort of humility and not really mean it, but I choose to believe Joe is genuine.
Pretty much completely disagree. The sound wasn't the greatest and I'm sure someone is working on that but it was two guys talking baseball and that's what I want out of a baseball podcast.This podcast - or Pozcast, I guess - is the first thing I've ever seen from Posnanski that I would call a failure. It just didn't seem like much thought or care went into it at all, which is surprising because if there's one word you would never use to describe Joe Pos it's lazy. Even by the lax standards of podcasting it was really undercooked.
You've got a potentially interesting guest there in Michael Schur/Ken Tremendous but Joe didn't ask him about any of the things that make him interesting. About 40 minutes was spent on a general 2011 season preview, a subject on which Ken T. doesn't seem to have much more to say than the average SOSH poster or Posnanski blog reader.
By his own pre-emptive admission Pos is not great on the radio but I thought he'd put a little more into his podcast. Hopefully in the future he will. This really wasn't anything more than a college radio sports show.
I disagree as well. Two very knowledgeable and passionate baseball guys talking about baseball? What a novel idea.Pretty much completely disagree. The sound wasn't the greatest and I'm sure someone is working on that but it was two guys talking baseball and that's what I want out of a baseball podcast.
Jim Fregosi absolutely may be right here too. There are real issues with Ultimate Zone Rating. But I will say one thing … we only ever hear from people like Fregosi on this topic. That is to say we are constantly hearing from baseball people who know how to measure defense better than some statistic like UZR. We are constantly hearing from people who, through well-honed powers of observation and years of visual training, can determine a player’s range and skill and defensive production better than UZR. They don’t need any statistic to tell you who can or cannot play defense. As the headline says, you can take your UZR and … And you know who we never hear from on this topic? That’s right: UZR herself.
Q: Thank you so much for joining us. I understand this is your first interview.
UZR: Well, I’ve been jumping from mother’s basement to mother’s basement, and I really have not had any free time.
Q: So you’re saying …
UZR: I’m saying that the human mind is better for writing poetry. The closest thing I’ve ever come to poetry is this: “Hat … Pat … Sat.” I’m still thinking a name for it. The human mind is better for literature, for music, for art, for comedy. The human mind is better in billions of different ways that I could never conceive. The human mind is especially better at narrative.
But by being better at narrative, the human mind can and will shift things to make them fit. The human mind will find trends in randomness, and stories in fog, and that’s one of the beautiful parts. I can count better than you can. I don’t mean that in a bragging way. I just can. I can count better, and I can ignore unnecessary data better, and I cannot be influenced by beauty or awkwardness. If you have one day to determine if a guy can play defense, or a week, or a month, you are better off to use your eyes because I need more than three days. If we have five years of data, I’m pretty sure I’ll beat your analysis every time.
Q: Do you understand why people take shots at you?
UZR: Sure I do. I sometimes spit out numbers that don’t match up to what the eyes suggest. It’s not personal with me. But it is personal with baseball fans, and it should be. They are watching the game with love. And they don’t want to be told that their eyes are misleading them, that they might not see the game as well as they think, that their hero doesn’t get to nearly as many balls as they believe.