John Feinstein is a prolific writer who has a knack for embedding himself into whatever tribe he is writing about at the time. His "Civil War" about the history of the Army-Navy football rivalry is a classic. In this new volume, "Where Nobody Knows Your Name," he tackles the world of minor league baseball at the Triple-A level. His approach here is to focus on a handful of individuals and to follow their fortunes throughout the 2012 baseball season. He chose several ballplayers, several managers, some front office men, an umpire and a broadcaster. Chief among the baseball personnel highlighted are players Nate McClouth, Chis Schwinden, Brett Tomko, Scott Elarton, John Lindsey. Also featured are managers Charlie Montoyo and Ron Johnson, umpire Mark Lollo,and front office legend Dave Rosenfield.
The dynamic that comes across loud and clear in this book is that the Triple-A level of baseball is a place of constant movement. Young prospects almost ready for the major league level are waiting for the call to move up to "The Show." Veteran plays who are rehabbing from injuries use the Triple-A level to get ready to return to the big club as they come off of the disabled list. Former big leaguers who are trying to make a return to their glory days labor in conditions well below what they have become accustomed to in terms of travel, hotels, food, pay and the size of the crowds. Injuries among players in the parent club often generate a phone call to the Triple-A manager to send up a player as a temporary replacement. Movement of players - showing up as "agate" in newspaper account of transactions - is constant. A case in point is that the Pawtucket Red Sox, winners of the Governors' Cup as Champions of Triple-A baseball in 2012, used over 70 players during the 144 game season.
If you are a fan of Feinstein, you will enjoy this book. If you are a fan of baseball, you will find this book fascinating. What a great time to bone up on baseball just below the major league level as we are only a few days away from the first pitch of the 2014 season.