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Public Reaction Against Bouton versus Public Reaction against Canseco

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  • Public Reaction Against Bouton versus Public Reaction against Canseco

    Having read both Ball Four (which I absolutely adore) and Juiced (no comment) and after Jim Bouton's name appeared in the "biggest jerks" thread, I asked myself the question: Was the baseball outcry directed at Bouton in 1969 similar to baseball exclusion of Canseco from the baseball world today?
    It seems to me that Bouton is a generally nice guy, although his opinions lead him into trouble. Canseco on the other hand seems like a jerk who wants to get cash by any means necessary.
    However, was the sentiment similar against Jim Bouton when "Ball Four" came out? It did create a small scandal as for the first time ballplayers were portrayed as carousers, and Bouton mentioned the use of Greenies. Bowie Kuhn, commissioner at the time, even asked him to write a retraction.

    Could it be that Canseco is just a future Jim Bouton?

  • #2
    Oups, I meant to post this in the Book forum.

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    • #3
      I haven't read Bouton's work - but I have read both of Canseco's.

      Personally, I think Canseco gets an unfair rap. The impression I got is that Canseco was blacklisted from MLB, probably by collusion of the owners. He did what a lot of MLB players did.

      He probably would have had a HOF career. What did he owe the Player's Union, Owners, and MLB? Who really is the bad guy? In my opinion, both parties are guilty, but at least Canseco shed some light on the situation.

      Is he really so dispicable for making a buck writing the books? Are MLB (owners and players) the victims here? Really?
      www.glovedoctor.net

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      • #4
        People liked Bouton's book for whatever reason, I guess the titillation factor. To me he was stabbing the people he worked with in the back to make money.
        Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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        • #5
          People liked Bouton's book because it was funny, revealatory, and challenged the conventions of the day. Mostly because it was funny.

          (BTW, I stll have a ticket stub from opening day - which I attended as a young kid - at Sick's Stadium in Seattle - the only opening day in the Seattle Pilot's history. It was a fun season, even before Bouton wrote the book.)


          People don't like Canseco because he is the poster child for conspicuous consumption, the "me generation," and general excess. And he was obviously a snitch. However, I did like his first book. First, because he lived acros the street from my brother when he played for Oakland, and he was a pretty nice guy. My brother got tired of the ferrari alarm going off every night, but Jose - and Esther - were good neighbors. So a personal bias. But I also like it because I think it was ridiculous that accusations against just a couple of obvious steroid users - singled out for WHATEVER reason - seemed to sate the public's blood lust on the issue. When it was ABSOLUTELY obvious that at LEAST 50% of the league was juicing. (And I believe a sizeable percentage still are.)

          Finally, I liked his first book because basically, every word proved to be true.

          Regards,

          Scott

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          • #6
            I don't know if Bouton or his writing partner, Leonard Shecter, deserves credit for the final line, but it may be the most poignant last line in any sports book I've read. After hearing about a fellow ballplayer who had started the year at about the same level as him but ended it trying to hang on in an industrial league, and pondering if he would do the same when the time came, Bouton concluded:
            Yes, I would. You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.
            I was reminded of this final line by the Favre hoopla: he too seemed to realize that it's the other way 'round for him.

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            • #7
              Well remembered and quoted. That IS poignant, for sure.

              Thanks,

              Scott

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              • #8
                I think the times were different. Bouton and Shecter came out with this book on the heels of the 1960s, when baseball had tried to stay immune to a lot of the social change swirling about--and Bouton had been more aware of and attuned to that change than most players. At the time, Bouton seemed to be just cashing in, but if you look at his life and career, he is the type who would do this kind of book--and I don't mean that unkindly as I do with Canseco, who is part of a different generation and had a different attitude.

                Also, Ball Four is a beautifully put together book. Canseco .... let's just leave it at that.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Green View Post
                  Also, Ball Four is a beautifully put together book. Canseco .... let's just leave it at that.
                  What sticks with me as one of the central themes in Ball Four (having read it many years after its publication, so all of its "revelations" seemed kind of quaint by then) is how much the players can truly love playing the game. I haven't read any other book that does as good a job at showing you the day-to-day life of a professional baseball player.

                  I haven't read Canseco's book, but I can't imagine that it could convey any themes nearly as well as Bouton's book (or else it would be also be revered as a classic today!).

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                  • #10
                    Writing a book calling out teammates and opponents in a way that garners immediate and sustained attention and criticism is where the comparison stops with me.
                    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

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                    • #11
                      Before Bouton, books were straight-laced; ballplayers didn't tell or cuss in a book. Now, you've got to look up straightlaced in a dictionary because no one around knows what it means.

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                      • #12
                        I do agree with most of what is said abo, but i'm just wondering how the public and baseball world reacted to ball four in the 70's and if the reaction resembled the one we got for Juiced.

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                        • #13
                          Find a copy of Jim's follow up book, I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally. It chronicles his experiences in the first year or so after the publication.
                          3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

                          "Because as I learned in my years covering Frank McCourt: MLB owners do not see themselves as stewards of the national pastime. They see their teams as their property they can light on fire if they so choose." - Molly Knight

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Michael Green View Post
                            I think the times were different. Bouton and Shecter came out with this book on the heels of the 1960s, when baseball had tried to stay immune to a lot of the social change swirling about--and Bouton had been more aware of and attuned to that change than most players. At the time, Bouton seemed to be just cashing in, but if you look at his life and career, he is the type who would do this kind of book--and I don't mean that unkindly as I do with Canseco, who is part of a different generation and had a different attitude.

                            Also, Ball Four is a beautifully put together book. Canseco .... let's just leave it at that.
                            Exactly. In 1969, baseball players were still heroes. Bouton's book made them look like regular guys--often horny, sometimes drunk, sometimes oafish and a jerk. Bouton didn't say anything particularly mean about anyone, and his comments about the Yankees are quite tame by today's standards (and understandable--a lot of people get a small chip on their shoulder about the company that fired them). I can't speak to Juiced, since I haven't read it yet--although this thread makes me wonder if it's worth the read.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SABRSusan View Post
                              Exactly. In 1969, baseball players were still heroes. Bouton's book made them look like regular guys--often horny, sometimes drunk, sometimes oafish and a jerk. Bouton didn't say anything particularly mean about anyone, and his comments about the Yankees are quite tame by today's standards (and understandable--a lot of people get a small chip on their shoulder about the company that fired them). I can't speak to Juiced, since I haven't read it yet--although this thread makes me wonder if it's worth the read.
                              In Ball Four, what was most striking to me was the portrayal of the coaching staff & management of the Pilots. From Bouton's perspective anyway, it seemed the team was run by a bunch of bumbling old men, who only had jobs as coaches because they'd previously had jobs as coaches, not because of any actual competence at it. No scouting of the other teams ("smoke 'em inside"?), players were (and by most accounts still are) treated as children by a staff who's only rationale is "that's how it's always been" and team management who's only goal is to skimp on spending, not with any notion of actually winning games.
                              Clyde's Stale Cards - A blog about the international world of baseball cards.

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