Monday, August 16, 2010
On Doug Glanville’s ‘The Game From Where I Stand’Posted by Alec Rogers
Although misleadingly titled, Doug Glanville’s The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View is still an enjoyable book for a baseball fan seeking a comprehensive account of a baseball player’s existence. Rather than a searching analysis of the game and its current issues, it’s a memoir of a player who was "just good enough" to make a career playing professional baseball. While recounting his career, Glanville tells his reader about every detail about players' lives on and off the field.
Glanville played major league baseball for nine seasons, mostly with the Phillies and Cubs, and briefly for the Rangers. He also attended spring training with the Yankees but did not make the team. Glanville was a lifetime .277 hitter, but without much power or the ability to take a walk. He was also a clean player during the steroid era, and his 78 lifetime OPS+ is a partial reflection of that. Hard work, smart play, good defense and speed accounted for his ability to make a living playing the game.
Want to know what it's like to buy a car or rent an apartment as a big leaguer? It's different from what you and I know. What time do players arrive at the park before a game and what do they do there before or in between games? Glanville tells us. He even explains why Montreal was one of the players' very favorite cities to visit and why they were disappointed when that city lost its major league franchise after the 2004 season.
His career gave Glanville a good vantage point to "see it all." He was never at the center of the game, but was around it for a long time during an interesting period. He’s also very observant and reflective, which comes through in the book. Recounting his career, you’ll learn all the details about a player’s life from glove contracts to dealing with groupies. No detail is too small for Glanville’s eye.
Some things about the book grate a bit. Granville has an engineering degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Penn is an Ivy League school. If you don't know these two facts before, you certainly will by the time you're finished with the book. Because Granville didn't get a lot of big moments, those he did get are recounted in exhaustive detail that would take a thousand pages in a memoir of top-notch player. He even lists the pitchers off whom he hit a home run and the circumstances in an appendix. Still, Glanville is all too aware of his shortcomings, which he also faithfully catalogs, and his overall assessment of his playing career is balanced.
One of the most interesting threads that emerges from Glanville's account is how vulnerable players feel at all times, knowing the talented pool of younger players just waiting to take their roster spot. This was probably more warranted in Glanville's case; but no matter how talented, every player knows that he's a blown knee away from ending his career. Reaching free agency in good enough health to receive that big multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract is naturally of paramount importance—something to keep in mind when a home town favorite looks to ink the best deal he can.
Perhaps the most interesting question is why anyone would read the memoirs of a career OPS+ 78 player. The answer is that anyone who loves the game has wondered from time to time what it’s like to live the life of a ballplayer—not just at a given moment but the full experience. Glanville’s book provides a thoughtful and comprehensive picture.
Alec Rogers is a Washington, DC area attorney who retains an affinity for his hometown Detroit Tigers