Are you lost now that The Last Dance has ended? Tired of watching old replays that at this point in the quarantine calendar have diminished considerably in significance? Don’t want to be judged any longer for watching post-game press conferences of your favorite team’s biggest wins from this past season?
If you answered YES to any of the previous questions, then by golly have I got a proposition for you! Give your strained eyes a break from their 87th hour of screen-time in the past week and instead get some ink under your fingers while discovering a newfound appreciation for the written word.
In hindsight, the iconic Christopher Columbus clip would never fly this day in age. Nevertheless, though I’m no LeVar Burton I’m here to provide you with three quick reads by former athletes that are all wildly entertaining for different reasons.
Let’s dive right in.
The Game From Where I Stand, by Doug Glanville
Published a decade ago, one of baseball’s most astute voices takes a deep dive into the life of a major league ballplayer. Glanville is an Ivy League graduate turned first-round pick and a phenomenal storyteller. I don’t think I’ve come across a sports memoir/biography written by an athlete that is as well written as this book.
Doug shares how his Penn education was actually a hindrance to his early playing career, what ‘dating’ life was like on road trips before cell phones, the often-overlooked complications that a mid-season trade poses for players and their families, his stance on PEDs, and much more. There’s no shortage of fascinating anecdotes about the highs and lows of being a professional athlete packed into this 250-page tale.
If you’re after intellectually stimulating stories that peel back the curtain in the life of a journeyman, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Don’t Put Me In, Coach…by Mark Titus
This is another book that falls into the ‘oldie, but a goodie’ category. Everyone’s favorite walk on wrote this book, published in 2012, about his time on the Ohio State basketball team. Titus has turned what began as a tongue-in-cheek inside look at the inner workings of a major DI college basketball program – his Club Trillion blog – into a laugh-out-loud funny read that you’ll want to finish in a single afternoon.
During his time at the end of the bench, Mark Titus got to play with, and gather hilarious stories about, seven future NBA players. Most notable among them are his childhood friends Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr., though Titus also played foil to the guy who he not-so-lovingly refers to simply as The Villain: Evan Turner.
From his time playing for the greatest AAU team of all time (no joke), to going to a magic show in Las Vegas with Greg Oden while everyone else hit the town, to knee-slapping interactions with the inimitable Thad Matta, and a trillion minor NCAA violations in between, you’ve got to give this one a read. Whether you care about Ohio State, college basketball, or sports at all, you won’t regret cracking it open.
House of Nails, by Lenny Dykstra
It’s no secret that Lenny Dykstra is an absolute psycho. That’s what makes this book such a page-turner. You’ll find yourself wanting to reach a stopping point, but the no-h*cks-given stories Lenny shares are just too good to turn away from. If you can survive the odd sales pitch for his nearly undefeated stock-picking system, you’ll be tilting your head in amazement at what you just read throughout the rest of the book.
Now, Dykstra is known for his inflammatory statements and embellishing a tale or two, but that doesn’t make this book any less enthralling. The book begins with a Nelson Mandela quote before the first chapter and outlines in detail Lenny’s friendship arc with Charlie Sheen. I never thought I’d ever write those two names in the same sentence for as long as I lived.
House of Nails came out in the summer of 2016 and details Dykstra’s time as a roided-up Met and Phillie in the 80’s and 90’s as well as diving into what was once deemed “baseball’s most improbably post-career success story” by The New Yorker. Then, the recession hit and he spent two-and-a-half years in jail.
This story is a roller coaster, so strap in and hold on for dear life.
Stay safe out there!