by Doug Glanville
Was there a Doug Glanville-splosion a year or so back? I feel like I remember Doug suddenly bursting onto the scene with a book and a bunch of TV appearances on CSN until he got his job with MLB Network or whoever. Now he’s got a tie and a Twitter account and everything somebody needs to be successful in media.
But before all that, he was the spindly center fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies whose appearance in All-Star Baseball 2000 looked like a bony offseason scarecrow wielding a bat. He glided through the post-Dykstra years, chasing down fly balls amidst a sea of increasingly pathetic teams we didn’t recognize because they didn’t have wild hair or swear on TV or go crazy, eventually.
Yet in the end, it gave Doug enough material to write this book, as well as the occasional “this-guy-right-here-this-is-the-guy” tweet. Of course, he also played for other teams, but explain to me why that matters before the end of this sentence.
On a day like today, when heat latches on and dry humps you into submission, the idea of curling up with a good book is about as appealing as an extra thick milk shake after a triathlon. But we here at TBOH aren’t asking you for your opinion, so maybe turn off the false chuckles of Daily News Live and read something for once in your miserable life.
“[Lenny Dykstra] was one smart cookie on the field and in the clubhouse.”
–Doug Glanville, The Game From Where I Stand
So you read that on page three and you’re just like, “Hmmm.”
I don’t have to go into the enchanted cove of insanity that Lenny Dykstra has lived in for the past few years. When you see him in “Whatever It Takes, Dude,” or on an old episode of Letterman or something, he sounds like a rational, though gritty, gamer. Hints of his eventual mind-shattering insanity may have been evident to some, but to the rest of us, it was somewhat despairing to see his era in Philly end. Plus I was six in 1993, so I assumed all adults were as responsible and home-by-6pm as my parents.
As I wondered what the Phillies would look like without any of the ’93 guys, eventually, it got that way, and all we had left was Todd Pratt, and each of the other positions slowly filled with new guys.
Then along came Doug Glanville, and we were like “Yaaaay!” At least we would have been, had it not been for the slate gray, tepid, lukewarm baseball that flows through that mid ’90s-2005 generation.
So Doug maybe isn’t the most prolific Phillie, or even baseball player, to get a press release about. When word spread of his book, it didn’t set the internet on fire. Nobody erupted in week long giggle fits over it, though it got read.
But you aren’t getting a look at the Phillies on these pages, you’re getting Doug Glanville’s job descriptions of a position very few people get. Which is interesting, but how many times have we read about the difference between the Major and Minor Leagues? What life is like in The Show? If you’ve read a book written by a current or former MLB player, this is almost tiresome news. What we need is somebody like Milton Bradley or John Rocker to write a book about what it’s like to be insane, or an asshole. But like insane people, assholes don’t always consider themselves an asshole, so that day will never come. And in the mean time, we get fair, decent human beings like Doug Glanville, his New York Times musings, and his harmless Twitter account.
However, the stream of consciousness style with which all portions of Doug’s life are touched is most evident in his baseball metaphors. At one point, he’s waxing on about his challenges hitting the curveball, and then somehow goes into how life “threw him a curveball” in the chronic illness of his father.
This is a guy who cares about baseball, a lot. He mentions the “soul” of the game multiple times, most notably when describing Opening Day (“It is the renewal of the soul of the game”) and steroid usage (“…I pray for the game’s soul.”)
Doug opens the window for us common folk, letting us breathe in the air of a Major League career. He gets into steroid use, and playoff baseball, and some of the stuff other guys wouldn’t touch, and he does it with the same grace that used to lead him around the outfield grass. Its no secret the guy is a literary talent; you get the feeling he’d been planning on writing a book at some point regardless of his career. So if you want a collection of thoughts from a decent guy, this book was written by the right person.