Is This a Great Game, or What? by Tim Kurkjian

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has penned his reflection of baseball after 25 years behind the typewriter and in front of the camera in his new book Is This a Great Game, or What?

I picked it up thinking it was an autobiography – which I am inherently skeptical about. But Kurkjian really doesn’t talk about himself – he shares stories of others in baseball that he has been a part of because of his role in the media. He’s seen a lot and knows a lot, but it’s not a collection bragging of “I did this and that.”

With a mix of admiration for the past and both skepticism and optimism for the future, Kurkjian weaves stories of players, managers and broadcasters together with a good amount of humor and insight, along with some editorials towards the end of the book to tell his own story.

The book does seem a bit disjoined at times – Kurkjian takes spends a chapter on 16 different topics, plus an introduction – and while the ingredients are the same for most all of them, the results end up mixed. Some are rooted in laughter, others in acknowledge the humanity of players and coaches that we as fans sometimes forget. Towards the end of the book, Kurkjian spends more time criticizing the current state of baseball, much along the lines of Dave Winfield’s Dropping the Ball. It’s never too heavy handed, nor is it weighted towards “the way it used to be.” However – there are some issues in baseball – particularly in sowing the seeds in the younger generations that Kurkjian feels needs to be addressed.

While the title is Is This a Great Game, or What? – the question is It This a Great Book, or What? – and the answer is that it’s definitely a good book, and worth reading to get another viewpoint on the game we love. It doesn’t rank as a must-read – but it will stimulate your thoughts about the current game, and give you a ton of stories of baseball personalities from the last 25 years to read about. You could condense some of his points and use this book in a decade or two as one take on the state of baseball in the early part of the third millennium.

Likewise – things will happen that will effect how we look back on Kurkjian’s book – for instance, Mark McGwire’s potential induction into the Hall of Fame, and of course the situation with Barry Bonds.

What do you think about Tim Kurkjian’s Is This a Great Game or What? by posting your comments and joining the discussion.

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