Look, I’m going to be honest with you. This blog is about to get funky.
But it will not take my fingers or my MacBook from me.
So far I’ve been trying to fill the baseball void by writing about baseball. I’m going to continue doing that. But also, with every passing day of being locked in a 500 square foot studio apartment with zero sports but a full-time sports writing job, I’m going to dive deeper into just writing about, umm . . . anything.
Let’s get a barometer. My good friend Matt Ellentuck, who covers the NBA and WNBA for SB Nation’s flagship page, recently took a break from blogging about basketball to give you a play-by-play of his attempt to cut his own hair.
I’m not there yet, bless his soul. But I’m trending in that direction. If this goes on long enough, I’m going to get there, and then I’m going to get somewhere past there. I’m going to get to the point where writing bounces all over the map, each spot unrelated to the prior location, becoming the very person my college advisor spoke of when he told his class, “I hate blogs, because they let anyone be a published author” ... becoming the very person I pretentiously despised when I banged my fists on the table and yelled, “Yeah!” as my advisor let out those words.
So, uhh ... be warned, I guess, for the incoming rebranding of McCovey Chronicles: A San Francisco Giants Community and Also a Community for Other Random Shit and Stuff and Look at These Words.
Now, with that 300-word disclaimer in the proverbial rearview mirror, let’s talk about books.
That same advisor who railed against blogs once told his class that he learned one lesson from his failed first marriage, and subsequent successful second marriage: “It was a mistake to marry someone who didn’t love books.”
Now I’m not trying to marry any of you (no offense), so there’s no judgement from me if you don’t like books. Okay, there’s a little judgement, because you got 350 words into an article that’s explicitly about something you don’t like. But other than that . . .
I, like many of you, have found myself with a lot of time to read, what with the coronavirus outbreak A) keeping me indoors, and B) taking away the 2-6 hour chunk of time in the evening reserved for SPORTZ! I’ve even spent some of that newfound reading time reading! Imagine that.
I don’t have a Goodreads account, but I do have free rein at McCovey Chronicles, so here, read about my books.
Books I’ve recently read
Tanking to the Top (Yaron Weitzman)
I was just finishing up this book when I started social distancing.
If you’re a fan of the NBA, and specifically if you’re a fan of the often-hidden minutiae of building a successful (and also unsuccessful) franchise, this is a good spring for you. Weitzman’s book on the Philadelphia 76ers came out a week ago, and Ethan Sherwood Strauss’ The Victory Machine, about the Golden State Warriors, comes out on April 14 (you can read my review here).
The subject material for this book is fantastic, as the “Trust the Process” Sixers are one of the more unique and unprecedented franchises in sports history, led by some of the NBA’s most interesting characters. Weitzman does exactly what I want out of a book like this, which is dig deep enough, and pull back the curtain far enough, that the reader gets a healthy dose of insight and information that wasn’t previously public.
Far too many books about athletes or teams read to me like collections of previously-published articles, and this, thankfully, is not that.
My favorite part was when Weitzman revealed that then-76ers guard Markelle Fultz, during a traumatic and challenging rookie year, found peace and comfort in going to Joel Embiid’s apartment to play Exploding Kittens.
Homie (Danez Smith)
This is a collection of poetry and, quite frankly, one of the best books of poetry I’ve ever read. It is deeply vulnerable and absolutely gutting, but also pocketed with moments of humor and pure joy.
Some really cool basketball people are putting together a publication unlike anything I’ve seen.
There’s a Vogue quality about it, in that it’s wildly aesthetically pleasing, full of thick, glossy pages, and as (or more) focused on photography than on words. It’s something halfway between a magazine and a coffee table book, and it’s outstanding.
I’m also reading the latest issue of Brew Your Own, a homebrewing magazine, if you were wondering what else was in that picture.
Books I’m currently reading
All the Little Live Things (Wallace Stegner)
I’ve been reading this book for a long time, because I keep getting sidetracked to read other things. We all have that book that we start and, seven books later, finish. This is that one for me, though it’s no an indictment of the book, which is fantastic (and moves about three times as fast as Angle of Repose, which is to say, still very slowly).
I’m really enjoying it. It felt pertinent to our world before all of this madness ensued, and now it feels . . . cathartic, but also slightly tragic.
At its heart, it’s the pull between a young pseudo-hippie who thinks they’re radical and world-changing by doing yoga and living off the grid, and an older curmudgeon who thinks its more for show than for substance, and perhaps that resonates with me because I seem to align myself with both sides, depending on the hour of the day.
Future Value (Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel)
When MLB was first suspended, I crowdsourced content ideas. User El Person recommended some book reviews, while user gianator suggested Future Value.
Done. I won’t spoil anything because A) I’ll have a real review, and B) I just started reading it, but so far I’m really enjoying it, and finding it pretty unlike anything I’ve read before, which is always a plus for sports content.
I’ll get a review of it up before the April 14 publishing date, so people can pre-order if they’re swayed by me.
Books I’m planning on reading
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
I’ve had War and Peace on my bookshelf for a long time. Specifically, I’ve had three copies of War and Peace sitting on three of my bookshelves for a long time.
It feels oddly poetic to read such a long book during a quarantine, so I figured now’s the time (and maybe Infinite Jest for dessert). When I finish the books in the above section, it’s go time.
And yes, before you ask, it is the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation.