Second Verse, Same As the First
Forgive another WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL aside here (or skip ahead to the baseball!) but something pretty wild happened yesterday.
As I wrote last week, the book made the New York Times Bestseller List for the third straight week. That’s an incredibly tough thing; obviously getting a book on the bestseller list at all is a huge deal for us authors, but having it on the list three weeks in a row — especially this time of year, when so many mega-books are coming out each week — is a level above. I’ve been lucky enough to have bestsellers before, but none of them stayed on the list for three weeks. It was a really sweet moment, and Margo and I celebrated with a delightful meal of Pho, which I only recently learned is pronounced “Phah,” though I feel a bit like a poser when I order it that way.
Anyway, that was that. Though I try to avoid it, I cannot help but do that author thing and check in on my Amazon bestseller number every now and again, and I saw it drop into the 500s, 600s and 700s, which is still amazing, but not really in bestseller territory. It was one heck of a run, and I’m in the clouds about it.
Then, yesterday, I got an email from my editor, John.
The book is on the NYT bestseller list for the FOURTH straight week.
It should be said that the New York Times list is mysterious; the Times guards its secret process the way Coca-Cola guards its formula or the way Bill Belichick guards his defensive game plan each week. So I couldn’t tell you exactly how WWLB made the list again, but I have an idea: independent bookstores. All around the country — and it makes me so happy, my eyes actually fill with tears — independent bookstore owners and managers and salespeople have been saying to readers, “Hey, do you like baseball? Did you ever like baseball? Do you know someone who likes baseball? This is a pretty cool book for you.”
I love independent bookstores so much. I’ve gotten to see a few new ones on this tour so far, and I will see more, and I’d love to just travel the country, independent bookstore to independent bookstore. Alas, I have a football book to write first. Anyway, I just have to pause here to again to tell you how blown away I am by your support, by the way you have been spreading the word about WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL, by the stories you’ve shared about your own love of baseball. A New York Times bestseller for four weeks? A sports book? A baseball book? We might have to go out again for Pho. And I’ll pronounce it “Phah,” because I should.*
*For a while, I tried hard to start inserting the British “cheers” into my daily vocabulary. I love that word so much, and I especially love using it in the “Oh, don’t mention it,” sort of way. Like if you hold the door for somebody and they say thank you, you just say “cheers.” Or if you tell someone to keep the change, and they thank you, you just say “cheers.” It’s beautiful and so much more elegant than “Oh, don’t mention it.” But, so far, anyway, I’ve just not been able to make it a daily part of my conversation — I forget to use it, or I use it awkwardly, or maybe it doesn’t sound as good in an American accent, I don’t know. But I’ll keep trying.
I imagine most of you skipped ahead to here — in which case you missed a spectacularly uninteresting aside about the pronunciation of the delicious soup “Pho” — so let’s get to the already-finished first round of the MLB postseason.
There have now been eight series played in the best-of-three, wild-card round — four last year, four this year — and seven of them have been sweeps. The only series that went the distance was last season’s Padres-Mets series. It’s WAY too early to call this a trend, but I do think it’s interesting that so many of us railed against the one-game wild-card playoff because it felt wrong to put so much importance on just one game … and essentially these best-of-three playoff rounds are kind of like one-game playoffs. Wednesday’s games were, in almost eerie ways, near-exact duplicates of Tuesday’s games. At the end, they felt almost entirely unnecessary. We knew all we needed to know after Tuesday.
Now to the recaps — I’ll be talking a lot more about the losing team in each of these because I’ll need to save some winning team talk for the previews coming up.
Texas 7, Tampa Bay 1 (Rangers to face Baltimore)
First example of “second verse, same as the first:” The Rangers beat a lifeless Rays team 4-0 on Tuesday in front of a small crowd, thanks to a terrific start from Jordan Montgomery and scoreless relief.
The Rangers beat a pretty lifeless Rays team on Wednesday in front of a small crowd, thanks to a terrific start from Nathan Eovaldi and scoreless relief.
There was more talk about the size of the crowd — 20,198 this time, less than half of the average of Wednesday’s other three games — and, look, it’s true that the Rays were given the worst time slot at 3:08 p.m. ET, and it’s true that the game time wasn’t even announced until a couple of days before the series started, and it’s true that Tropicana Mall and Auto Show is a lousy place to watch a baseball game … but this was a terrible look for the Rays, and it was a terrible look for baseball. If we were talking simply about disappointing attendance numbers, that would be one thing. We’re not. We’re talking about HISTORICALLY LOW crowds, lowest since the Black Sox threw the World Series. Someone in the sports industry sent me this photo yesterday:
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