I just finished reading the new book by Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Phillies beat-writer for the News Journal, Scott Lauber: “Phillies Confidential – The Untold Story of the 2008 Championship Season.”
And as promised, here is my review! To start with, if you are looking for a total re-cap of the entire Phillies 2008 season, from the moves in the off-season before hand, to Spring Training and through to the World Series, this is the book for you. It covers just about all the highs and lows of the season.
The book works as sort of a “conversation” between Lauber and Matthews. Lauber gives his take on the topic at hand and then Matthews comments on it; there are even different type fonts in the book so you can tell who is “speaking” at that particular moment. I thought this was a really great concept. The blogger and the announcer going at it, so to speak.
However, I have to say I was disappointed with the content. If you are a fan who follows the entire Phillies season each year, pitch by pitch, like I do, there is little new or unknown information here. As I said, it is a “re-cap” of the season; added to that are some interesting comments by Sarge as he reminisces about the 1980’s. Matthews also spends a good deal of time talking about his son, “Junior” (Gary Matthews Jr.), Tom Gordon’s son, the decline of African American’s in baseball and has an occasional mention of Barry Bonds. But beyond that, any information they give on the 2008 season has been written before in newspapers and seen on the television coverage. There really is no “Untold Inside Story” at all. And that was the part I was most looking forward to.
Every quote in the book has been published before. Every story, like the Jimmy Rollins benching and Brett Myers exploding at Charlie Manuel on the mound, have been seen and read before. There was no insider information, locker room tales or secret conversations. The book title is deceiving and that was really a huge let down.
If you love Sarge though, you will be entertained by his 80’s flashbacks and unique use of the English language. For instance, Mr. Matthews seems to be smitten with the word “butt” which he used repeatedly throughout the book. Phrases like, “booing your butt,” “feast on your butt” (the visual on this one is just great!) and “getting your butt booed” graced the pages, in what seems to mirror Sarge’s usual speaking style. And as he does when he is in front of a microphone, he repeats himself often. I read a segment about how Aaron Rowand and Jamie Moyer have great heart, and how Sarge was sad to see Rowand go; then, 2 chapters later, I am reading the exact same thing, some of it word for word. Same thing with the section on Geoff Jenkins’ batting style and how Sarge used to be his hitting instructor; turn a few chapters and you can read all about it, again. It’s like Déjà vu. I’m reading along and saying, “Hey, didn’t I just read this?” Apparently so.
I searched and searched to find ANY information that was new to me and finally came across exactly ONE story I had not heard before. Page 65: When Jimmy Rollins was re-habing his bad ankle, he played in a few extended Spring Training games to prepare to come back to the team. As he walked up to the plate to bat, the young catcher looked up at him and said, “They let you wear a Rollins jersey?” To which Rollins replied, “Yeah, they say I look like him.” Typical Jimmy – very cute.
So to re-cap the re-cap: buy this book if you are looking for a re-cap of the 2008 season with some Sarge anecdotes and historical flashbacks thrown in. If you are only looking for the “Untold Inside Story” part of the book, pass.
And for the football fans, I have also started a Miami Dolphins page, The Dolphin Pod! All Dol-Fans, and anyone else who wants to say hello is welcome!
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