Thursday was one of those “good news, bad news” days. The good news: I received a copy of Joe Posnanski’s “The Machine” in the mail from Harper Collins (I’m still not entirely sure why this happened, but at least it made me feel important). The bad news: I already bought the book a couple days after it came out. (Actually, I bought two books on that trip to Barnes & Noble: “The Machine” for me and Dan Brown’s latest for my wife; as luck would have it, her mother had already picked up the latter title, making this the single most pointless trip to the book store ever.)
Okay, so the “bad news” is only bad for me. For everyone else, it’s good, because it means we’re gonna be having a contest and a giveaway – and who doesn’t like the opportunity to win free stuff?
Alright, here’s the deal: there’s a quiz on Sporcle where the object is to name the eight regular starters for the Big Red Machine. (Posnanski linked to it earlier this year, and if memory serves, this quiz was my introduction to Sporcle, which means I should both bless and curse the name of Joe Posnanski. God only knows the total number of hours I’ve wasted on that amazing site.) Take the quiz and email me your time at email@example.com. The reader with the fastest time on that quiz wins the book. Easy as that.
As for the book itself, it was an interesting and entertaining read, focusing largely on Reds manager Sparky Anderson and his four biggest stars: Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez. The most fascinating part (aside from the implication that Ken Griffey Sr. was a remarkable player who Anderson and The Machine kept from reaching his full potential) was the way Rose and Morgan were portrayed. Fans today “know” those two in particular – Rose as the unapologetic gambler who bet on baseball and Morgan as ESPN’s number one color commentator – and Posnanski paints vivid pictures of the people they were back then.