Book Review – “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled”

The new Phillies book, “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled” was written by Phillies beat reporters Jim Salisbury of and Todd Zolecki of “The Zo Zone.”  The book offers an inside view  of the much-hyped 2011 Phillies starting pitching staff led by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

As an avid Phillies fan, the two major things I look for in any book about the team are as follows: 1 – Does it tell me anything that I did not already know?  2 – Is it entertaining?  Both of those questions, I can answer with an emphatic, “Yes.”

The thing that really stood out in this book was the amount of behind-the-scenes details.  The authors provide a true inside look at multiple aspects of the game, including the modern day player-reporter relationship, front office dealings, personal lives of “The Rotation” and what really makes each person tick.

The Cliff Lee chapter was my favorite.  This segment gives an in-depth account of the initial Lee acquisition, the trade to Seattle and the re-signing of Lee.  There are verbal accounts from everyone involved including Lee, his agent, the Phillies front office staff and other involved parties.  An actual e-email sent to Dave Montgomery prior to re-signing Lee is even posted in the book.

After reading all about the gut-wrenching details and roller coaster of emotions involved in these trades and signings, I actually felt sorry for those people, including Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and especially assistant GM Scott Proefrock.  You will have to read it for yourself to believe it.  What these men went through with their families, co-workers and the press is much more intricate than it appeared in the news.

And those are exactly the kind of details that make this book truly stand out.  It includes everything you ever wanted to know and then some.

Even the month by month recount of “The Rotation” during the 2011 season goes above and beyond.  It not only provides statistics and baseball details, but the authors also bring the characters to life with personal stories and locker room banter.  For example, the veil of Halladay’s steel demeanor is slightly peeled back when his first game back in Toronto as a Phillie is recounted.  And did you know that Lee made a bet with Kyle Kendrick that involved a belt and smacking each other with it?

What we do know is exactly how the story ends.  And that is the only issue with this book, which can hardly be blamed on the authors.  We all would have preferred the “happy” ending but it was just not meant to be.  Perhaps they can write that happy ending after the 2012 season?  I am sure every member of the 2012 rotation is thinking the exact same thing.

If you do not yet have a copy of the book, get it here!  Also, Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki will be signing copies of their book in various locations as follows:

•March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

•April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.



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