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A Few Book Updates—and a Deal You Won't Want to Miss
Hi everybody. So we are now four weeks away from the release of WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL, and so many cool things are happening. I’ll have plenty to share over these next four weeks — probably more than you want, but hey, this is my life right now! I’m going to tell you about an amazing promotion we have going … but if you stick around to the end, I’m also going to give you a Director’s Cut exclusive that was cut from the book last-minute!
That amazing promotion? Well, Barnes & Noble has come up with a WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL super special secret sale (alliteration!). If you preorder the book in the next two weeks from B&N, and enter the cracking cool covert code (more alliteration!*), you will get TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OFF, a number so high that it automatically appears in capital letters.
*I mean, are you getting your alliteration money’s worth in this newsletter or what?
The secret code is (looks around to see if anyone is watching): CATCH25.
And, yes, if you preorder the book anywhere, including Barnes & Noble, even with that TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT discount, you are eligible to get the exclusive bonus stuff. All you have to do is sign up here.
You might have noticed over the last few months that I have asked you to preorder the book once or twice or 10,438 times. I should probably explain that because it’s kind of weird to ask you to buy a book days and weeks and months before it actually comes out (and before you even know if it’s any good). This will be a little bit of a book insider thing, but let’s give it a shot.
The book business — like every business — has dramatically changed in the last few years, with the internet and social media explosion. I don’t need to tell you that there are many fewer bookstores out there. Used to be — like when I wrote my first book, The Soul of Baseball, in 2007 — there were bookstores EVERYWHERE. This is mainly because there were all these national bookstore chains like Borders, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, etc.
All those places are gone.
Independent bookstores, thankfully, have been a bit more durable, but the challenges for indies are immense and get more immense every year.
So there are fewer actual places to buy books, to browse books, to hear about a new book you might like. Beyond that, the opportunities to spread the word about books is much more limited now. Yes, of course, there’s social media, but that’s a jungle as you know, and the field is so much more crowded. Trying to be heard over a raging sea of celebrity books and political screeds and authors who are super-good on TikTok is tough.
Fortunately, word of mouth remains the undefeated and undisputed champion of spreading the word. That’s what we’re going for here.
All of that leads to the staggering importance of preorders. They are more important to an author and a book’s success than at any point in bookselling history. It’s really quite simple: More preorders lead to bigger orders leads to more books being available on shelves and online leads to more people seeing, hearing about, talking about and considering the book.
My last book, The Baseball 100, was a surprising, amazing and wonderful success (thanks to word of mouth!), and I’m beyond grateful for that. But — and I wouldn’t expect you to remember this — for several weeks in the fall and leading up to Christmas, you COULD NOT BUY IT. They ran out at Amazon. They ran out at B&N. Local bookstores didn’t have it and couldn’t get it. This wasn’t anyone’s fault; we were still coming out of the pandemic and everything was moving very slowly. People did great work getting the books out as well as they did.
But, it’s also true, that book lost untold sales, and one of the reasons, as I understand it, is that everyone was kind of taken by surprise by the demand.
Preorders set the expectations for the demand.
So, yes, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to build up the preorders for WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL (thank you for your indulgence) … and you have been AMAZING. Remember the competition we had to break Mike Schur’s presale record at our beloved Rainy Day Books? Well, we actually DID break that record, incredibly. Hurray.*
*Come out to our event in Kansas City on Sept. 8 to help me rub it in!
Now we’re in the home stretch, and every preorder counts. If you think you will get the book, well, any preorder is a huge help.
If you like the convenience of Amazon, you can preorder here.
If you want to support your local bookstore, you can start here or call up the store or, best of all, stop in for a visit
If you want to save TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT, you can preorder the book here and just enter CATCH25 in the “Apply Coupon Code” box.
There are other options, too.
Four weeks left!
Thank you for reading all this. As a bonus for your preorder awesomeness, I’m including a little story, just for you, that did not make it into the book. This is like the exclusive content you can get for preordering the book.
As you might know, the book is a countdown of the 50 — but really 108 — most magical moments in baseball history. These include all sorts of baseball moments, on the field, off the field, you name it.
One moment I wanted to include, but had to cut, was this one surrounding Abbott and Costello legendary “Who’s on First” routine:
The Invention of Who’s Wife (1946 or so)
Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s on First” plays on a loop at The Baseball Hall of Fame. It has been reprised and updated by countless people. Jerry Seinfeld, among others, calls it the greatest comedy bit ever written.
The bit came directly out of 1930s vaudeville when wordplay was king. It was a time of sketches such as “Who Dyed” (about a dye factory with an owner named Who) and” The Baker Scene” (about a shop on What Street) and the 1931 movie “Cracked Nuts” where two men discuss battle plans over a map with the town of What.
First man: For your army to attack me, you proceed to the town of What.
Second man: What?
First man: That’s right.
Second man: What’s right?
First man: What’s right.
Second man: That’s what I said, What’s right?
First man: Well, I agreed with you, didn’t I?
Second man: On what?
First man: Yes.
Lou Costello was a huge sports fan, so he is almost certainly the one who came up with the idea of taking that sort of repartee and applying it to baseball. In 1938, Abbott and Costello first performed “Who’s on First,” about a baseball team filled with players that have funny names.
Costello: Can you tell me the guy’s names on the team?
Abbott: Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third.
Costello: That’s what I want to find out. I want you to tell me the names ... Abbott: I’m telling you. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third.
Costello: You know the fellas’ names?
Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?
Costello: I mean the fella’s name on first base.
Costello: The guy on first base.
Abbott: Who is on first.
Costello: Well, what are you asking me for?
For years, Abbott and Costello played around with the routine, added to it, streamlined it, expanded it, and even created entirely new sections. They were particularly happy with the “Naturally” section — this comes in after Costello, entirely flustered about the name of the first baseman, angrily asks if he can play catcher. When told yes, he comes up with a scenario where the batter bunts and he picks up the ball and throws it to first base.
“Now,” he asks, “Who gets it?”
“Naturally,” Abbott says, leading Costello to believe for a while that the first baseman’s name is “Naturally.”
But as great as Naturally is, I think the greatest addition to the routine, the one that put it over the top, involves salaries and the first baseman’s wife.
It goes like so.
Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money? Abbott: Every dollar of it. Why not? The man’s entitled to it.
Costello: So who gets it?
Abbott: Why shouldn’t he? Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.
Costello: Who’s wife?
Pure, unadulterated genius.
By the way, here’s the defensive lineup for the Abbott and Costello team. It’s notable that they never named a rightfielder:
First base: Who
Second base: What
Third base: I don’t know
Shortstop: I don’t give a darn
Rightfield: Unnamed. Frank Deford, when writing about the routine for Sports Illustrated, concluded: “All along, surely, the rightfielder in the routine was God.”