One hit, one whiff: Costas's prescription to fix baseball is a tonic; Koufax bio falls flat

May 14, 2000

FAIR BALL: A Fan's Case For Baseball
By Bob Costas
Broadway Books, $21.95

If someone out there will only listen to him, broadcaster Costas
will tell the lords of baseball how to solve their problems.
Revenue sharing? Costas has a scheme for more equitably
apportioning both ticket and radio and television money. Runaway
salaries? He'd raise the minimum and cap the maximum.
Realignment? By transferring Houston to the American League,
he'd create two 15-team leagues with three five-team divisions.
No more Wild Card, the division winner with the best record
would get a bye. The DH? Out! It "provides a solution for a
problem that no longer exists": lack of offense. Pete Rose? Let
him in the Hall of Fame, but keep him out of the game.

Actually, in his role as concerned fan, the eminent commentator
makes some cogent points in a refreshingly no-nonsense--if
humorless--plea for sanity. He argues, for instance, that
"players and owners alike need to be less willing to sacrifice
the game's essence on the altar of commercialism." Lots of luck
on that one, Bob.

KOUFAX
By Edward Gruver
Taylor Publishing Co., $24.95

For four, maybe five years in the 1960s Sandy Koufax was not
only the best pitcher of his time but also possibly the best
pitcher of all time. In his career with the Dodgers he threw
no-hitters in four consecutive seasons, including a perfect game
in 1965. He struck out 306 batters in '63, 382 in '65 and 317 in
'66. He had records of 25-5 in '63, 26-8 in '65 and 27-9 in '66.
He accomplished all this while suffering from, first, a
circulatory ailment that almost cost him the index finger of his
pitching (left) hand and then, in his final three seasons, an
arthritic condition in his left elbow that caused him
excruciating pain and precipitated his early retirement at age
30.

The discerning reader may be excused for flinging this book
violently aside after happening on yet another description of
curveballs that drop off tables or fastballs that rise as if
they'd been thrown twice or, especially, "thick back muscles."
And enough already on the pitcher's faithful observance of the
Jewish holidays.

This is a relatively short book that could be half as long.

COLOR PHOTO: BROADWAY BOOKS COLOR PHOTO: TAYLOR TRADE PUBLISHING

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)