Dirk Hayhurst's Out of My League was one of the best books I read last year and will rank pretty highly on my All-Time Best Baseball Books list if I ever start having such a list. The book follows Dirk's adventures and misadventures on his way from the AAA Portland Beavers to pitching in the Bigs with the San Diego Padres. It's hilarious, profound, inspiring, and did I mention hilarious?
So when I heard that Hayhurst was putting out a short book of "deleted scenes" from Out of My League, I knew I'd be all over it. At just about 200 pages and $5 from the NOOK Store, I couldn't say no. And if Wild Pitches lacks the strong narrative structure and coherent storyline of Out of My League, it more than makes up for it in hilarity. In fact, it's worth the cover price just for the chapter on Dirk's obsession with playing baseball in Japan. I won't spoil it, because it's magnificent.
I should emphasize here that I'd totally recommend reading Out of My League first, or it'd be like watching the deleted scenes of a movie before actually watching the theatrical cut. And then I'm absolutely recommending this book, short though it is. On his blog, Hayhurst has suggested that he'll be doing more eBook length stuff along with a forthcoming full-length book (which I will be reading, along with the short stuff).
The nature of this book is certainly more episodic and random than Out of My League, but the format lends itself to the inclusion of very cool stuff like the quality chapter written by the fetching Mrs. Hayhurst about the vagaries of being (and being referred to as) a player's wife, and a great one describing Dirk's typical day (okay, not typical) working at Circuit City during the offseason (remember, we're talking about a minor leaguer at the time, not making huge money).
All in all, I guess I can see why the chapters were cut from Out of My League, but it's more a case of keeping a tight narrative for it than there being any lack of quality in what was cut. I liked the length of Out of My League, and this is a fine way to trick me into reading a longer book. I still need to double back and read The Bullpen Gospels, because Hayhurst has turned into a can't-miss author for me.
I should also mention that the last few dozen pages in the book consist of journal entries from when Dirk was playing for the AAA Beavers of Portland (the dearly departed Beavers, boo-hoo), in which capacity he probably played for a crowd including my family. That's cool.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that Hayhurst's language is rather more colorful than your average Christian man's, but to me it reads as authentic rather than offensive. But if reading the f-word with regularity would cause you offense, you may want to reconsider reading him. You'd be missing out, though, and it may be that you're just uptight. Just sayin'.
I was really planning on posting this earlier this week and then pounding out a review for A Short History of the World, but that's not going to happen. Lousy work, keeping me busy and making me avoid my computer at night. I'm also closing in on the end of So You Created a Wormhole, and I've just started shift-reading The Trouble With Physics along with it. I think my reading pace is better than last year's, so maybe I'll get back to my book-a-week total this year.