Monday, October 26, 2009

If You Can't Watch It, Read About It

In the last month or so, I have read 2 really good sports books.  One is The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, whose other works include Moneyball and Liar's Poker.  The overarching story here is how the position of left tackle became a premiere position in the NFL and, as a consequence, in college ball.  But the real story, and the story the keeps you reading, is about a young boy from Memphis who is rescued from abject poverty and unspeakable neglect to become a highly sought recruit and a first round NFL pick at the position guessed it...left tackle.  The young boy is Michael Oher and he this year is starting as a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens.  This book touches on too many subjects to detail here (public education, college recruiting, the NCAA, poverty among them) and includes fascinating bits of NFL history.  Well worth the read.  And by the way, it has been made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock, coming out in November, I think.

The second book is The Match by Mark Frost.  This book recounts a 1956 golf match between amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward and professionals Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.  The writing is exquisite, which makes this book worth reading even if you have no interest in golf.  But if you like golf even a little bit, you must read this book.  Compelling storytelling and insightful mini-biographies of the main players lift it above the ordinary nonfiction yawn.  On top of all that, Frost gets into golf course design and the high-level's golf move from amateur to pro.  Really fascinating.   As for me, I most enjoyed the Hogan and Nelson stories.  Two admirable men and two incredible golfers.  My dad would have loved this book.

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