Baseball Is Just Baseball:
The Understated Ichiro

Blue Rider/Penguin, 2012

Excerpt

I agonized all spring 2001 about whether to get cable TV. I didn’t want my then eight-year-old daughter, Natalie, to get hooked on the Cartoon Network, but I wanted to watch the Mariners, who were off to a brilliant start—not just winning the overwhelming majority of their games but playing a new (for them), beautiful brand of baseball: sacrifice bunts rather than three-run home runs. I went so far as to call the cable company, get estimates for packages, and two times scheduled appointments for installation, only to cancel both times.

A week and a half into the season, I was listening to the A’s-Mariners game on the radio; after a few innings, I couldn’t stand it any longer and, though at the time I didn’t drink (complicated story), I went around the corner to a sports bar. Oakland’s Terrence Long was on first base. The next batter singled to right field, and when Long tried to run from first to third (a relatively routine maneuver), Ichiro Suzuki—the first Japanese position player in the major leagues and who, like Madonna or Cher or Pelé, went only by his first game—threw the ball on a low line drive from medium-deep right field all the way to the third baseman, who easily tagged Long out.

The bar erupted, the announcer went berserk, I felt that weird tingle down my spine I get about twice a decade, and for the next twenty-four hours the only thing anyone could talk about was “The Throw.”

 

Awards

  • Paperback bestseller in Japan

 

Reviews

Baseball Is Just Baseball is an ethereal joy unto itself.”–James Norton, Flak Magazine

“This book is deliciously wonderful. It looks nice, it feels nice, and it is filled with nice things.”–Powells.com

“There’s a scene in Downtown 81, wherein a hooker asks Jean-Michel Basquiat if he’d ‘like to go out.’ Basquiat replies, ‘I’m already out.’…If, like me, you [find this remark] funny and clever, then you’ll probably dig Shields’s little book.”–Mike Seely, Tablet

“Shields has located a charming narrative inside the roar of Ichiro Mania.”–James Martin, FFWD Magazine

“Through his introduction and quote selection, Shields turns Ichiro’s comments into Eastern wisdom, revealing a person who values Zen qualities such as simplicity and harmony and who revels in challenge, not achievement.” —ESPN.com Insider

“David Shields’s. . . . sense of postmodern irony is so advanced that I cannot be sure whether or not he is serious.” –Robert Lipsyte, The New York Times