The complete title of this book is “The Curse: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! … Or Do They?” It was published in 2010, and was written by Andy Van Slyke with Rob Rains.
I have had this book in my possession for over a year, and I didn’t get around to looking at it until now. I’d like to explain why. It’s because of the words “The Curse” in the title. I’m tired of hearing about “The Curse”, and that’s why I didn’t pick up this book until now.
I am, however, glad that I did pick it up. I enjoyed reading Mr. Van Slyke’s book.
First, a word about the authors. When I first picked up this book, I thought I might have heard the name Andy Van Slyke, but I really couldn’t place it. So I did some research. Andy Van Slyke was born (in 1960) and raised in New York State (Utica and New Hartford, respectively).
Andy Van Slyke was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979. He played for the Cardinals from 1983 to 1986. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987 and played for them from 1987 to 1994. In 1995 he played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies.
During his playing years Mr. Van Slyke won five Gold Gloves and was a three-time All-Star selection.
He coached for the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2009, and co-authored “Tigers Confidential, The Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Season”.
Co-author Bob Rains is the sports editor of St.Louis Globe-Democrat.com, an online daily newspaper.
So, it is clear to me that neither author has any direct ties to Chicago or to the Chicago Cubs.
It has been said that Andy Van Slyke was as well known for his wit as for his baseball ability. With that in mind, here are a few quotes from and about Andy Van Slyke:
- “Every season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to try to do is eliminate the Grand Canyon.”
- “I have an Alka Seltzer bat. You know, plop plop fizz fizz. When the pitcher sees me walking up there they say, ‘Oh what a relief it is’.”
- “My biggest problem in the big leagues is that I can’t figure out how to spend forty-three dollars in meal money.”
- “They wanted me to play third like Brooks (Robinson) so I did play like Brooks – Mel Brooks.”
Without giving too much away, I could describe this book: “The Curse – Cubs Win! Cubs Win! … Or Do They?” as existing within the category of “sports fiction”, and as being about the Cubs finally breaking their 100+ year drought and playing in the World Series.
This might be a good book for the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney, The new GM, et al, to look at.
I do think it’s worth asking: Why would two guys with strong ties to St. Louis and no ties to Chicago, write a book about the Curse of the Chicago Cubs?
One thing I couldn’t help but notice as I was reading: All of the fictional bad guys in this book have Italian surnames. And none of the fictional good guys have Italian surnames.
Also, the authors attempt to establish a familiarity with Chicago by dropping the location names “Wrigleyville” and “Rush Street” repeatedly. As a fourth generation Chicagoan, my feeling is that this only establishes their “UNfamiliarity” with my home town.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “He grinned when he thought about the former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Marge Schott, who wanted to know one time how come she was paying people – scouts – when all they did was watch baseball games.”
- “The players came and went, but the fans remained.”
- “It’s easy to cheer for a winning team. Try coming to games and finding a reason to cheer when the team is 30 games out in August. Let’s see who has the best fans then.”
- “I figured if they were younger than 25 and already in the majors, chances are they will be protected. If they are older than 32, chances are we don’t want them, or we will be able to look at them separately.”
I enjoyed reading “The Curse….”, even with the aforementioned reservations. And as I also mentioned previously, this might be a good one for the Ricketts family and Chicago Cubs organization to look at.
I thank Joe Aiello and Ascend Books for providing me with a copy of “The Curse…” to read and to review.