One of the only baseball blogs (to my knowledge) in the blogosphere that focuses on the Montreal Expos. Okay, mostly baseball in general, however with Montreal Expos references to be found within!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst - book review

I was actually following Dirk Hayhurst on Twitter before I was aware he had a book out. I was following him for the reason that he was a member of the Blue Jays organisation. And then at some point I saw he had replied to someone who had praised his book. Naturally, this piqued my interest, seeing as he is still an active player.

Given the title, I was expecting more of an inside look into the game. For what it is worth though, it is that, and more.

The book starts off with the end of the 2006 season. From there it quickly jumps to the following off season, and the not so glorious life that comes with being a minor leaguer. That being, training in a facility that is skimpy on heat, lighting, and Gatorade. And living with his grandmother. Living with his dysfunctional family is not really an option, as he fears being beat up by his drunken brother.

Baseball of course to Dirk is an opportunity, an opportunity to hopefully provide a better life not only for himself, but his family. That being if he is able to make it to the big leagues. And at the very least work his way up the minor league levels. Although he can still use his baseball position to do well in the community.

Life in the minor leagues is not easy. Pretty much nothing is handed to the players, and they have to earn their way up the ladder, or else catch a break if they get called up to replace an injured player.

Dirk trying to go above and beyond a baseball player, and using his position for good is exemplified early on. He is working at a community centre that provides meals for the homeless and needy. His job is to pass the food tickets to people. He ends up having an exchange with a homeless man. He gives him his baseball card, only to see the man tear it up right in front of him. What use is a baseball card to a homeless man? Dirk went on to give his boots to the man, as his were soaked from the wet slushy weather outside. Although not in the book, as it chronicles his 2007 season, he went on to win the Community Player of the Year when pitching for the 2008 Portland Beavers (Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres).

During the 2007 season, he spent most of the season with the Double-A San Antonio Missions, prior to that though he started off with the Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm. According to his stats he did play a couple games in Triple-A with the Portland Beavers, but that was not written about. It was mostly the ins and outs of minor league life, going from A Advanced to Double-A, along with the pros and cons. Mostly being cons.

Prior to the 2007 season, Dirk explains how he had thought of quitting baseball, but in the end returns, hoping for greener pastures (MLB playing time), and also it gets him away from his family (who he loves, but it is not exactly the best family scenario).

So generally, getting the less glorious tale of minor league ball, all the while still getting baseball insights (pre-game rituals, food and living situations, fans begging for balls, the different stadiums and setups, etc. Good stuff for baseball geeks like me.) makes for a quality read. And with the baseball off season upon us, no better time to pick it up!

Also, check Dirk out at his website, or his Twitter feed.