Literal Mailbag: The Politics of Glory by Bill James

When bored at work, I’ve been known to order things online that I don’t really need in order to spark up my life with a momentary flash of excitement. This usually happens on Fridays, and especially on the every-other-Fridays that I get paid. I’ll be sitting there, doing all sorts of important things—clicking and typing and uploading and submitting, and after a while, I’ll just be sick of it, you know? So I’ll hit up Etsy or Ebay for a minute or two (don’t tell anybody) and browse around looking for reasonably priced Nixon wrist watches or books or cool-but-not-overtly-hipster retro memorabilia of Seattle sports teams. The usual. And apparently I had one of those days sometime last week, because to my surprise, I was greeted this evening with a package containing the book The Politics of Glory: How Baseball’s Hall of Fame Really Works by Mr. Bill James as I arrived home. This was kind of news to me, as I had all but forgot about my little six dollar spending spree the week before. God, now I have to leave feedback. How annoying.

I was quite pleased to have received this book on this particular night. I’ve been planning on writing about my experiences in San Francisco last year when the Giants won the World Series, what with the anniversary of the event passing a couple of days ago and all, but that post feels to me like it might take some time. I’ll have to look at pictures and video and whatnot—rub some brain cells together in order to conjure up memories the best I can. I might even have to do research to recall certain key moments of Game 5 (spoiler alert: I think there were like, maybe two). This is not something I’m interested in doing tonight. As much as I absolutely love writing about quirky little baseball tidbits to an audience of tens, even twenties, it’s Thursday night, and I’d like to watch my Comedy Programs. So this Bill James book falling into my lap was perfect. My post subject was quite literally mailed to my doorstep. It was fucking meant to be, you guys!

So I bought this Bill James book, The Politics of Glory, and it came in the mail today. I believe I ordered this book as a result of a footnote by Jonah Keri in a Grantland piece about whatever baseball was going down at the time. I thought to myself, hey, I like Bill James, and I like getting all riled up about the stupidity of the Hall of Fame and it’s machinations, this book is for me! Ebay provided a reasonable price, and I ordered it. Done deal. Now that the book is in my possession, there are some details about it that I find to be lovely, despite the fact that I haven’t read it or even plan on reading it any time soon. First, The Politics of Glory, that’s one hell of a title. Next, this particular book used to belong to a library. The Pennington Library to be exact. They’re located in New Jersey. Imagine that. The dust jacket is still covered with a thin layer of protective plastic. There’s a Dewey Decimal Classification sticker on the spine that reads “796.367 JAM.” An old-school style checkout card and pocket are even inside the front cover. I find all of these details to be very charming. There’s something innately neat about owning a book that used to belong to a Library—maybe on some level it makes me feel like I stole the book and got away with it. Because I’m a goddamn romantic who studied literature and holds books and their institutions in high regard (seriously, fuck the Kindle), I can only hope the Library didn’t sell this book out of necessity, but rather due to excess, or a standard cycling process that happens regularly. I wouldn’t wish ill on the good folks in Pennington—you can believe that.

The book’s cover art is also very interesting, what with it’s American theme in red while and blue, and mitt with a baseball inside of it that reads “Vote for Rizzuto.” This makes me wonder a bit. I don’t know much about old Phil, but a career WAR of 47.2 isn’t doing much for me. I see he was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. The same year this book was published. Using a little bit of deductive reasoning, I have to believe that Rizzuto will be used by James as an example of the spurious dealings that go about in the Hall of Fame voting process. That, or Bill James totally loves him some Phil Rizzuto and all of you that have already read the book know that I’m being an idiot right now. I plan on finding this out, one vague and non-specific day when I’m finally diving into this thing and come across the parts that mention Rizzuto. I can’t wait.

A couple final observations before I go eat dinner and get ready for all of the Comedy (and yes, this post has taken a good chunk of time to write, making my big plan for brevity a totally shitty plan, thank you very much). Inside the back cover of the book, there’s a black and white photograph of James that looks rather 1990’s, and a mention in his bio that he lives “in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, Susan McCarthy, and three little ‘uns,” (emphahsis mine). Who doesn’t love that, huh? In a similar vein, the book is dedicated to “Rachel McCarthy James, who is a big girl now and can read books with no pictures.” Susan McCarthy James is no doubt one of the aforementioned “little ‘uns,” and that dedication is no doubt fucking adorable.

Enjoy Community, Parks and Recreation, and It’s Always Sunny everyone! I bet The Office will be terrible.

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2 thoughts on “Literal Mailbag: The Politics of Glory by Bill James

  1. Pete Sorice says:

    three comments:
    1- yes,The Office is pretty crappy these days.
    2- you’ll dig the book.
    3- Dennis is my favorite character on television.

    • Kyle says:

      I thought this weeks Office was a gradual improvement over the season’s general badness, but Always Sunny was incredible and out of control, as always.


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