Bryan Curtis of Grantland has a great story today about baseball books. About how there are so damn many baseball books. And more and more are published every year. Indeed, just by going through books published in 2014, one can read subjects spanning nearly every decade of baseball history. Go back decades and you find multiple books on any topic worth writing about and just as many on topics not necessarily worth writing about.
Curtis talks to a lot of people — myself included — about why that is. I think the biggest answer is nostalgia. People want to read about Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams even if they’ve already heard it all. That’s a dynamic I have tended to mock — aw, look at the Baby Boomers getting misty-eyed about their youth! — but I can’t lie: I was excited as hell to read Dan Epstein’s latest about baseball in the 70s and when we start getting carpet-bombed with books about 1980s baseball, I’ll read every one of them and shake my fist at the youngsters who just don’t understand how baseball was in its prime back then.
And then people younger than me will feel the same way about the baseball of their youth. Of the 90s and 2000s and steroid-era baseball. Curtis and I talked about it when he interviewed me:
McGwire and Sosa will be de-villainized, by their word processors or ours. “There’s going to be such a revision,” said Craig Calcaterra. In a recent talk at a bookstore, Calcaterra found that college students weaned on ’90s baseball don’t view that decade as the fall of the national pastime. It was their childhood. “They see it in very much the same terms that we saw Gaylord Perry,” he said. “‘Oh, look at that. Wasn’t it quirky that that happened?’ The sport always overtakes the tut-tutting of people in the media.”
It won’t be sepia-toned like a Mantle book may. But some guy in his 40s or 50s will pick it up, read it and shake his fist at his kids and tell them that baseball was so much better and simpler and pure back when they were that age.