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"Flip Flop Fly Ball" Book Review

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Good thing he's not an actual centaur.
Good thing he's not an actual centaur.

My sister knows me. She bought me this book for my birthday and it was a great read.

The author, Craig Robinson, is an Englishman that fell in love with baseball 5-10 years ago. He loved the "order" of everything, from three strikes to four bases to nine innings, how an individual matchup helped the overall team, the non-uniformity of ballparks, and more specifically, the New York Yankees.

One of his first thoughts - that he shares with many non-Americans - is why it's called the "World" Series when 97% of the teams play in the U.S. Regardless, his passion for the game is evident from the first sentence. Although the book is full of "charts, drawings [and] photos," I stayed with it for the stories Robinson told, of which there were three. The first was during a trip to New York in 2005 when he attended his first game (Yankees vs. Twins), another when he took the quintessential American road trip, traveling around the country to see various ballparks, and another when - denied a visa to the U.S. - he lived in Toronto for a summer and bought season tickets to the Blue Jays.

Even though the book is primarily graphs, I skimmed over them to get to the next essay I liked the story so much. Here's a snippet from when Robinson attended a Mariners-Red Sox game in Seattle -

Every so often I'd see a Sox fan who particularly took my disfavor, and I'd snarl, "Look at that douchebag with the douchey face and douchey cap and that douchebag Pedroia t-shirt."

[My friend] Claire would then look at me like I was nuts and say, "She's about six years old, Craig!"

He had clearly become a true Yankee fan.

But the graphs were often informative and engaging on their own. Some were very un-scientific, like why a centaur would make a bad third-baseman, how high would a stack of pennies equaling A-Rod's 2010 salary reach (about 3300 miles), which ML team was most represented via caps in Europe (Yanks first, Rockies last), and an overhead view of every ballpark and a handful of parking lots (purely for aesthetic purposes). Others were far more numbers-based, such as how often the best regular season team won the World Series in the Wild Card era (thrice), the difference in ticket prices and payrolls, and the day-to-day batting average of Ted Williams in 1941.

Other fell somewhere in between, like a map showing all the franchise relocations over the years and a chart showing the history and success of expansion clubs.

It's a rare book that can intrigue both hardcore and casual baseball fans. But Flip Flop Fly Ball does that, and I suggest you pick up a copy.

(FYI, the foreword was written by SBN's own Rob Neyer.)