St. Martins Press was apparently impressed enough by this blog to send me an advanced copy of Jason Kendall‘s new book, Throwback. (The book officially comes out May 13…thank you Michael for the copy.) Mr. Kendall has been called a lot of things in his playing career–tough, gritty, a man’s man, an asshole; and even got some flack in the media in 2010 for his divorce proceedings and subsequent accusations of abuse and addiction to adderal by his ex-wife. He allegedly destroyed his birthday cake in 2009 with the same bat he used to get his 2,000th hit! Some Pirates fans to this day have no love for the man because of his rookie hazing with fellow player Brian Giles and overall nastiness to the media. As a Oakland fan, I can attest that I had nothing but love for his game. He WAS a gritty, tough guy; sure. But that is what we admire in a town like Oakland that prides itself on its blue-collar, working class roots and take no prisoners attitude. Jason sums it up perfectly with this statement:
“…and for all you fans that thought I was an asshole, you were right; but I still respect you for loving the game.”
That is fucking GOLD right there.
The book is basically baseball 101. I expected a lot of cheap shots and shit kicking, yet there is very little of that here. There is, however, a lot of nuances or as I like to call it, ambrosia, that some of the younger players should read up on and even take to heart. Jason gets as pissed off as I do when someone misses the cut-off man. I love that shit. He analyzes and spews his opinions on everything from managers, pitch counts, bullpen committees, how younger players are sissies and EVERY baseball situation you could possibly imagine. Let me tell you something…if you think you know shit– you don’t.
Here are some of the highlights/insights:
Joe Blanton changed speeds better than anyone he ever caught.
John Lackey called him a “motherfucker” when he charged him on the mound.
Kendall’s thoughts: “You get in a fight in baseball? You might kick somebody’s ass, you might get the shit kicked out of you, but it just takes that one time to show that you’ll fight back. You get drilled at the plate and you think something is wrong with that? Go to the mound. You do that and word gets around that this kid will fight back.”
“I’ve charged the mound a couple of times, and I’ve been asked if I had a game plan: What was I planning to do once I got out there?
Easy–kick the shit out of somebody.”
The best bullpen he ever saw was in Houston with Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner.
Gary Sheffield knocked the crap out of him at home plate causing a concussion. (this later led to an episode of Sheffield slapping his helmet at the plate leading to Sheff getting his eye cut and some people would say his ass kicked.)
C.C. Sabathia is one of the greatest pitchers ever.
Hecklers: “Screw me? Screw you! I’ll kick your ass!
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to REALLY get into the ins and outs of the game. Very highly recommended…and I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the book: “Do not touch our stuff…If I walked into the locker room and found a reporter or clubhouse visitor by my locker and they had my glove on–especially my gamer– I’d probably knock him out. That’s me; but to be honest with you, 99.9 percent of all ballplayers feel the same way. If somebody was in my locker, I don’t know if I’d start the game because I’d be in jail; that’s my shit. Don’t touch my stuff…Even ballplayers don’t touch each others stuff without an invitation. That’s my locker: I’ve got my cell phone, keys, pictures of my kids in there. I’ve never seen anyone in my locker which is good; because that’s fighting shit.