Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Six Good Innings by Mark Kriedler

In early August, I finished reading Six Good Innings: How One Small Town Became a Little League Giant by Mark Kreidler. Kreidler was a sports writer for the Sacramento Bee for a number of years and appeared on the radio on Sports1140 with the Rise Guys. I stumbled across this book while browsing on Amazon.

The backdrop for the book is Toms River, New Jersey. Toms River became a little league powerhouse. In the 1990s, its team made it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, three times in five years, finally bringing home a historic world championship victory in 1998. This success created expectations that they could get back again. As a side note, I saw some of the 1998 game between Toms River and Japan on the ESPN Classic channel by accident as I was flipping channels.

In 2006, the Toms River Little League team advanced farther in the competition than any team had in recent years. With most of the key players returning, expectations for 2007 were very high. The book tells the story of the 2007 team as it fights it way towards Williamsport.

Jack had the opportunity to play in the Northern California Cal Ripken Tournament in 2009 and 2010. The book accurately portrays the pressure that the kids are under in these tournaments. The expectations of everyone involved can be unreasonably high. The story also highlights the role of chance; a lot of things have to right to win it all.

I enjoyed the book and give a sold B grade. I enjoyed it a lot more than the book about kids baseball that I read last summer.

The short story that I want Kreidler to write is the tale of his son's Davis California tournament baseball team getting caught using an illegal overage player in a major youth tournament in Southern California. They won the tournament, but got caught. Given the reverence with which he writes about baseball in this book, it would be interesting to understand the group psychology that took place. What were the coaches and parents thinking? It appears that it was common knowledge that the kid was overage. It would be interesting to explore the consequences on coaches, players, parents and the team.

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