2012 Best Sports Book: Flip Flop Fly Ball

Best Sports Book:  Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson.  There are plenty of baseball trivia books available, but none quite like Robinson’s take on the American sport.  It combines a series of essays, infographics and illustrations on such a wide and weird set of topics that it becomes an unlikely, but fascinating, page-turner.  Robinson was born in Lincoln, England and didn’t really follow the game until a summer spent in New York on business 28 years later.  He became hooked (and a Yankee supporter) and his essays describe his evolution into a fan both in Europe and on subsequent trips across the Atlantic.  His non-American perspective influences not only his writing, but also the questions he asks and answers in his infographics.  He seems obsessed with stadiums, but he also delves into the history of teams and leagues as well as just off-the-wall stuff like the distance covered by all 716,083 pitches thrown during the 2006 season (8,138.5 miles from St. Louis to Mumbai), a day-by-day look at Ted Williams’ 1941 batting average (never below .300), and the number of times “O Canada” has been the only national anthem played at a game (40 interleague games between the Expos and Blue Jays).  The variety of questions is such that you feel compelled to see what subject he examines next.

Despite its wonderful content, unfortunately its design does not lend itself to reading while lounging on the couch with a game on in the background.  It’s an oversize book at 9.5″ x 12″ and hardbound so it doesn’t fit easily in one’s lap.  And you’ll need a magnifying glass or eyesight like Wade Boggs in order to read some of the miniscule font on most of the graphics.  Also, as with all trivia books, some of the information is dated and has changed since its publication following the 2010 season.  However, given those flaws, it is still a great read and worth the effort.

For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.

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