23 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
When "Ball Four" was published in 1970, Jim Bouton was attacked by players, sportswriters, and the owners for revealing the secret, sordid underbelly of professional baseball. Which should be enough right there to get you to read this thing. But in "Ball Four," Bouton also reveals the humanity of baseball, the fear, the hate, and the fun, which makes it one of the classics of baseball literature and a must read.
Basically, "Ball Four" is a diary of the 1968 season written by a journeyman middle-relief knuckleballer. Before injuring his arm, and turning to the knuckleball, Bouton was a fireball pitcher for the New York Yankees. In his rookie season in 1962, Bouton won two games for the Yanks in the World Series. He played with Mantle and Ford. Then his arm went dead, and he found himself back in the minors, where he taught himself to throw the knuckler. The Yanks didn't think much of him anymore and traded him to the expansion Seattle Pilots (which left Seattle after a single year for...get this...Milwaukee), where he earned a spot as a spot starter and mopup long relief man.
The book reveals the personalities of the players and managers and owners. It tells what the players do on the road, in the bullpen, in the minors. It reveals the petty nature of the coaching staff, who are usually all old-time baseball men, not very clever, not prone to trying new ways. It talks about the dicey contract negotiations by players in the days of the reserve clause, when average players made an average wage.
Bouton travels in the world of boys. The players are mostly kids in their 20s, not educated, and spent their formative years in baseball. They like pranks. They like women, but they don't know either how to talk about them, or how to talk with them. Most of the time, they just try to look up their skirts. They drink. They sneak in past curfew.
But Bouton also works in a competitive business market. Pitchers hide their arm injuries for fear of being sent down. Players fume over bench time. Coaches think small, because to be creative and new means being out of a job. And baseball is all these guys have. They have nothing else to turn to.
Certainly in light of recent ballplayer behavior - think of the Pittsburgh cocaine scandals, Strawberry and Gooden, and the thuggish, drug-addled violence associated with football and basketball - "Ball Four" depicts a harmless and almost nostalgic view of baseball. But it still stands as a baseball classic for its honesty, its authenticity, and you wonder how much has changed since 1968.
In the end, the players, owners, and writers should have celebrated the publication of "Ball Four." Sure, it did spawn a string of subsequent tell-alls, and it did forever swing aside the curtain shielding the ballplayer from public scrutiny, but this is a modern age, and we want heroes with all their flaws. Who is it more fun to root for on the field, a straw dummy propped up by a marketing machine, or a man?