I got a review copy of Steve Clarke's book "100 Things Blue Jays Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" last week, and I've been so busy, I hadn't gotten to doing a review until now.
I'm a sucker for baseball books and I love books like this, that you can leave in the bathroom, read a couple of chapters at random and put it aside until later.
Most of the 100 things are things you already know, and fitting in 100 little chapters in a book that weighs in at 256 pages doesn't allow for a lot of deep detail. Numbers 1 and 2 of the list are our World Series wins and they get a total of 7 and a half pages together, including a full page picture of Joe Carter celebrating, so you know you are getting the Reader's Digest version of the story.
There is a nice story about the start of Cito Gaston's baseball career (number 10) and a suggestion to take a tour of Epy Guerrero's baseball complex in the Dominican Republic (#24) which is something I'd like to go see one day.
The 3.5 pages on Ernie Whitt focuses mostly on his investment in the Mother's Pizza franchise (something I didn't know about, but then really don't care about either. How many of the other players had bad investments?) The last line, in the Whitt chapter, 'might very well be the most beloved player in the Blue Jays' history', surprised me. Most beloved? Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Tony Fernandez, John McDonald, Carlos Delgado all fall behind him on the list?
#18 Watch a game from the Stadium Hotel, yeah I should really do that one day. #27 Roger Clemens, 3 pages without the term PED appearing anywhere? # 45 White Lies talks about Tim Johnson's lies about being in Vietnam and also has a few paragraphs about John Farrell's dream job. #51 tells the story of Damaso Garcia's jersey bonfire. #93 is about John McDonald's Father's Day home run.
Maybe the most fun is #17, why Joe Brinkman hates the Jays. There was a time, back in the 80's, when Jays didn't have the best of reputations with the umpires around the AL. Perhaps much of that was because of Ernie Whitt. When you are catcher, you don't want to be pissing off the umpires, they have to deal with you all game long.
We did get a mention, under #44 Visit the Tao of Stieb and the Drunk Jays Fan (yeah sure, put them in the title not us):
Bluebird Banter, a member of SB Nation, serves as a high-calibre forum for Jays bloggers and fans to vent ther innermost feelings about the team. The content is as compelling as the site run by more seasoned writers and often has an edgier tone.
It's a fun read, you likely know most of these stories but I enjoy reading about these things. It would be a good book to give to anyone you know that wants to learn more about the team.
There is the odd mistake and a few typos. Mel Queen was 4-1 as Jay interim manager, not 4-11. Actually the whole History of Blue Jay Managers table is messed up, unless John Farrell really lost 8170 games for us. Maybe a few too many shots at JP Ricciardi. #29 The Blunders of JP Ricciardi, then #39 Ricciardi Passes on Tulo (which was talked about in the earlier one), then #52 JP Feuds with Adam Dunn. But no mention of the things he did do well. All GMs make mistakes.
It touches on most of the major events and players in team history. For you guys that know the history of the Jays, there won't be much new in here but with all the new Blue Jay fans jumping on this season, it can be a handy primer. It would make a good present for any friend or family member that you'd like to turn into a Blue Jay fan. I'm going to leave a copy at my parent's house, with the mention of BBB highlighted.