• Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember

    Posted by on September 11th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    I just finished reading “Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember” by John Feinstein.

    For those not aware, with this book, Feinstein details the 2007 season for the Yankees Mike Mussina and the Mets Tom Glavine – as well as the how last year went for their teams.

    I truly enjoyed this book.

    The first tip towards the fact that I enjoyed “Living on the Black” was that I read it – the entire book. And, that’s saying something for me since the book is over 500 pages long. I don’t think I ever read a book that was 500+ pages long. I just don’t have the attention span for it. Well, if I did ever read something that big before it was probably because I was forced to read it in school – and I don’t remember it because I’ve already erased the memory from my mind.

    Now, it’s not a perfect book. In fact, I found many editing errors in the text.

    On page 172, it refers to the Trenton Thunder as being the Yankees Triple-A farm team. On page 211, it refers to the Yankees bullpen at Yankee Stadium being in right field. On page 407, it refers to WFAN’s Yankees reporter as being “Sweeny Murdy.” And, on page 478, it refers to the Mets and the Nationals as being tied for first place with one game left to go in the season.

    And, we know these are statements are incorrect. Yet, poor editing aside, it doesn’t take away from the great story-telling that Feinstein does in “Living on the Black.”

    With this book, he does a great job at bringing us inside the heads of Mussina and Glavine. I was amazed to see that Glavine actually ‘lost’ his change-up during the season – and to see what he had to do in order to recover it. And, I was elightened to see how Mussina struggled with his confidence last season – and how much that impacted his season.

    Oh, and as a Yankees fan, you also get to enjoy reading through how the Mets choked in 2007.

    I could see where some might not enjoy all the detail – almost game by game at times – in this book. But, again, for me, thanks to John Feinstein’s enjoyable style of writing – where it’s just like a ‘normal’ person talking to you and not someone trying to show you how smart they are, etc. – the game detail was not an issue.

    I was very happy to have a chance to read this book. As a Yankees fan, it gave me a new appreciation of Mike Mussina. And, as a baseball fan, it provided me with some great insight on Tom Glavine too. Feinstein shows you that they’re people, just like you and me, even though they’ve both won so many major league games.

    With the baseball regular season coming to a close, and October soon to come and leave in a flash, if you’re looking for something to extend your attention on the game – in a way that you can enjoy and learn some things as well – I highly recommend reading “Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember.”

    Comments on Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember

    1. September 28th, 2008 | 6:05 pm

      [...] Mussina proved me wrong this year – in terms of his ability to still pitch. And, in reading “Living on the Black,” I gained some further insight towards Mike as a player. And, through all this, he won me over – [...]

    2. MJ Recanati
      November 18th, 2010 | 9:42 am

      I actually just finished this book on Sunday morning, despite the fact that I bought it in August 2009.

      I really enjoyed it also and especially enjoyed it with the full hindsight of how Mussina went through the transition of a former power pitcher to more of a junkballer with the occasional 89-90 mph fastball during the 2008 season.

      I loved this book and appreciated the details about what pitchers work on during their bullpen sessions and some of the things that pitching coaches do that never get talked about on television.

    3. Raf
      December 29th, 2010 | 6:20 pm

      I picked this up today from Barnes and Noble’s clearance section. Cost 3 and change. Looking forward to reading it.

    4. December 29th, 2010 | 7:29 pm

      Three bucks? That’s a steal for this one. Great deal.

    5. Raf
      December 29th, 2010 | 9:05 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      It was $6, then B&N took 50% off of that. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been whittling down my book collection, but this was too good to pass up.

    6. Raf
      January 6th, 2011 | 12:54 am

      Mussina was a character, wasn’t he? I’m enjoying his recollections so far more than Glavine’s.

      I’m partial to cranky smart guys, which is why I’m enjoying the look behind the scenes with Mussina so much.

    7. MJ Recanati
      January 6th, 2011 | 8:00 am

      @ Raf:
      I agree, the Mussina parts are pretty great. I realize that as a Yanks fan I’m predisposed to being more interested in those Yankee-related sections but I also agree that Moose is just more interesting than Tommy G.

      That being said, there were parts of the Tommy G. story that were quite fascinating, particularly in the second half of the book when the Mets were choking away their lead in the division.

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