C - Eli Whiteside/Chris Stewart *
1B - Brandon Belt
2B - Jeff Keppinger *
SS - Brandon Crawford *
3B - Pablo Sandoval
LF - Cody Ross
CF - Nate Schierholtz
RF - Carlos Beltran
(You could of course switch Beltran and Schierholtz around, I just personally think Nate should be in center. Just me. Also worth noting that C, 2B and SS are still really weak offensively, and I'm not sure that's enough - but it's a fairly decent team on the corners of the offense. You could also put Belt in left field, get Aubrey Huff back in the lineup, and sit Cody Ross.)
That leaves these guys on the bench:
Aaron Rowand: $13,600,000
Miguel Tejada: $6,500,000
Aubrey Huff: $10,000,000 or Cody Ross $6,300,000
And no, I haven't even discussed Barry Zito yet.
All of this is according to ESPN, by the way. For those mathematically inclined, that's roughly $25-30,000,000 on the bench in three guys. The entire Kansas City Royals roster is paid $35,000,000. (The Yankees? $196,000,000. Baseball is great.)
And ... I'm okay with this spending. It stinks that the Giants offense is woeful and that there is $30,000,000 being spent on guys who aren't contributing, but to quote every reality show ever made, it is what it is.
I have been a fan of Drew Magary for quite a while, mostly from the
two online websites he writes his cheeky, sports-focused columns for Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber.I then read his first book, Men With Balls, a satirical "how-to" guide for, potentially, emerging athletes.
Magary always has a great way with words, but he's always been focused around the same basic subjects. (Read Deadspin for some of those saltier topics, if you'd like.) So, when I heard he'd written a novel, based on the discovery of a drug that essentially cures mortality, I was both excited and a little nervous. When I got an advance copy to review, I was thrilled and devoured it in no time at all.
On a darker side, many are morally outraged by postmortals and both a disturbing cult and a faction of gangster thugs emerge to protest this in a myriad of ways. All the time, John Farrell (our protagonist) is trying to sort things out, and haunted by an impossibly beautiful, curvy blonde he keeps seeing...
If there are gaps in the book, it's mostly by the format - we don't ever get to know Farrell all that well, to the extent that when his sister becomes an important character later in the book, I was surprised to learn (or remember) that he even had a sister. He's not a fully fleshed out character, though mostly he really doesn't need to be.
Mixed with more global insights (the world, for instance, quickly runs out of fish) and a larger comment about why mortality might not be so bad after all, The Postmortal is a delightful, often horrifying book from a truly talented writer. I'm looking forward to much, much more.
He left behind the foundation of a novel, titled The Pale King, which though incomplete was edited together by his friend and editor Michael Pietsch. It should be stated first and foremost that whatever one may think of the book (and what I think follows and is, essentially, the point of this post) that the editing job here is a masterwork. It is clear, both from the content and the notes that Wallace (DFW from here on out) left that Pietsch had very little to work with, and what he's sewn together does make sense and shows how much promise the book had.
Now, a challenge is somewhat of a hallmark of DFW - I started Infinite Jest three times before it hooked me for good, and anyone who has a book with 300 pages of footnotes isn't exactly a beach read author. But The Pale King is a challenge primarily for two reasons:
- It is completely unfinished, with no overarching arc and a truly incomplete story
- It is about the I.R.S. and boredom and includes pages and pages of text that I think would have been edited out in a later draft. To say that it is slow at times is a mammoth understatement.
DFW stated that he hoped to wean out about 90% of the chaff -- of course, editor Pietsch wanted his fans to read his work and appropriately didn't throw anything away. That leads to things like a repeated phrase (squeezing his shoes) way more times than would ever exist in a complete novel, and chapters that are wandering, aimless and often unsatisfying.
The book follows employees of the IRS office in Peoria, IL and some of these anecdotes are masterful while others are engaging and give hints that vintage DFW story lay ahead. In particular, a lengthy chapter towards the end between Meredith Rand (the office hottie) and a coworker who seemingly has Aspergers or something similar is one of the best chapters in the book, utterly compelling, hilarious and tragic (which somewhat defines DFW at his best). There are also "author notes" from 'David Wallace' one of the characters in the book but also, based on his description, not necessarily supposed to be the author. We learn, among other things, that there are two David Wallaces starting at the branch on the same day which causes some issues ... but we don't get much further.
And there are many other characters with secrets, personality issues and in some cases psychic abilities that all hold so much promise. For that, and for many sentences and chapters that made me feel like I was truly reading what DFW would have sent to the bookbinder, I really did love those parts of the book.
However, in assessing a true grade here, I can only ask two things:
- Would I give the book a different rating if it was written by someone besides DFW - indeed, an author I knew nothing about?
- Would I give the book a different rating if it was, in theory, a completed work?
In both cases, the answer is affirmatively YES. On its own, this book is an inconsistent mess. would probably have given it a 5.0/10.0 which is about as low as I can go with a book I actually finish. But, with the obvious, open caveat that this is a biased grade, I'll give it a 7.0/10.0 on the DFW scale. This is also because at the very end, Pietsch includes notes from DFW to himself about where he was going - a fascinating insight that I'd love to see from every author, and particularly here. I won't spoil them for folks who will read them, but make sure to read them if you do pick this up.
For fans of his work, it's a must-read - because it's his last. All others likely need not apply.
RIF! Reading, It's Fundamental.
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