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Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review

Juiced and Other Sporting Reads

The old expression "where there is smoke there is fire" may be the applicable wisdom as regards: "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big" by Jose Canseco (ReganBooks / HarperCollins, $25.95,  304 pages).

If nothing else, the book's title is one of the more eye catching ones of  recent years.

Claims and charges and carping commentary characterize Canseco's tome: Dubbing himself the "Godfather of steroids in baseball," the former baseball's tar says: "I single-handedly changed the game of baseball by introducing them (steroids) into the game.


"By the time my 8-year-old daughter, Josie, has graduated from high school, a majority of all professional athletes -- in all sports -- will be taking steroids. And believe it or not, that's good news.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that intelligent, informed use of steroids, combined with Human Growth Hormone, will one day be so accepted that everybody will be doing it. Steroid use will be more common than Botox is now. Every baseball player and pro athlete will be using at least low levels of steroids. As a result, baseball and other sports will be more exciting and more entertaining.

"Are players the only ones to blame when Donald Fehr and the other bosses of the Major League Baseball Players Association fought for years to make sure players wouldn't be tested for steroids?" he wrote, adding: "Fehr had to know the truth."

"There was a huge double standard in baseball, and white athletes like Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson were protected and coddled in a way that an outspoken Latino like me never would be," he wrote. "Canseco the Cuban was left out in the cold, where racism and double standards rule."

Canseco aims a lot of his venom at his former  Oakland teammate Jason Giambi who got bigger and bigger. "Giambi had the most obvious steroid physique I've ever seen in my life. He was so bloated, it was unbelievable. There was no definition to his body at all. You could see the retention of liquids, especially in his neck and face."

You pays your money and you takes your choice. There are wild charges in "Juiced." But the book has much food for thought and some of the things it has to say cannot be dismissed or ignored. 

On a more inspirational and uplifting note there is "The Boys of Winter" by Wayne Coffey (Crown, $23.95, 272 pages), a celebration, a flash back a quarter century to the "Miracle on Ice" - the triumph of the USA hockey team over the favored Soviets. Terrific reading!    

HIGHLY NOTABLE:  "Grand Old Game of Baseball" by Joseph Wallace (Abrams, 744 pages, $29.95)  - -the kind of book to occupy a place of prominence on your coffee table - facts and fascinating illustrations culled from the archives of the BB Hall of Fame.

From the same publisher "101 Reasons to Love the Yankees" and "101 Reasons to Love the Red Sox". Both priced at a hefty $22.50 and a skimpy 122 pages. The former written by Ron Green, Jr., and the latter by his brother David. Gimmicky tomes but worthwhile browsing, both books are heavy on illustration and strangely familiar content.

"Clubhouse Lawyer" by Frederick J. Day (iuniverse, $29.95, 484 pages) is a highly insightful book into Law and the world of sports. The author is a lawyer and a highly knowledgeable sports fan - he knows his stuff in both areas and serves up telling commentary on many a legal battle.

"The American Indian Integration of Baseball" by Joseph Oxendine (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95, 328 pages) is a bit over-priced but a highly readable and well researched account of the presence of American Indians on pro baseball fields from the time of Louis Sockalexis in 1897.

If you want to know how your favorite team got its nickname - and other interesting things about sports franchises - pick up a copy of "Yankees to Fighting Irish" by Michael Leo Donovan (Taylor, $14.95, 192 pages, paper). As the author notes: "This book exists because no nickname is an accident. And every nickname has a story." Donovan tells the stories well.

BOOKENDS: "Surf Like a Girl" by Rebecca Heller (Three Rivers Press) is a slim paperback but has the info needed for surfing so you don't look like a schlep in the water or on the beach."   Go for it if this sport is your thing.

 

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
 

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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