Sunday, July 15, 2012

My books in June 2012

Göran Fiedler - Baseball für Fußballfans (Baseball for soccer fans)


Tonight (in my timezone) the Bucs face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in a tied series for the 3rd game. Milwaukee is also the hometown of the German expat and author of this book, Göran Fiedler, and who knows ... maybe he'll be even in the ballpark? It really could be and that makes today the perfect day to review his fine little book. 

You remember maybe how I mentioned before the epic fail of "Baseball for Dummies" which I bought and tried to read, because I wanted to know more about baseball than "When The Cutch hits the ball and it flies out of the ballpark, it's a good thing".  I wanted to get behind the mysterious numbers and blinking lights on the TV screen and learn to enjoy the game and not only fresh fried corndogs or the garlic fries at the west coast (so funny - the whole area around the ballbark smells like garlic at a game day in San Francisco). 

BUT ... as motivated as I was ... I could not wrap my brain around "Baseball for Dummies" - All the time big question marks popped up above my head and I was all "What? Why?  Who does what now .. when?" It was worse than ever and I gave up. I was stuck on a very beginner level and far away from understanding the game really. My lovely friends told me to forget about reading books and recommended just to go with them to the ballpark when I am in Pittsburgh next time (Playoffs - yes, I believe!) and watch the one or the other  game on TV / internet inbetween.  

Then by randomly looking around on Amazon I ran into a little book called "Baseball für Fußballfans" ("Baseball for soccer fans") and I thought  "That might work out."  I mean ... when I tried the other book I felt like a Indian cricket player trying to learn about soccer with wrapping his brain around the offside rule as first thing - impossible. But if somebody would approach baseball from an European perspective, I might have a chance?

I can happily announce: IT WORKED!  Perspective obviously does matter and baseball explained by a fellow German, who grew up with soccer just like me (and anybody else here), is suddenly not that complicated anymore. The book is really small and of course does not deep dive into all the special rules and exceptions, but it explains the basics fast, simple and easy.  And suddenly all the stuff that looked like weird rituals to me, all the funky terms, mystical numbers and strange moves make SO MUCH SENSE

I feel a little bit like I learned a new language over night and now watching a game is actually FUN. I can appericate that AJ Burnett throwing ball after ball and NOTHING happening is a big deal. I get why Neil Walker's hitting streak is pretty amazing although he does not bat spectuclar homeruns like Andrew McCutchen all the time.

Thank you Göran Fiedler for making the summertime fun and me feeling comfortable on the Pirates bandwagon! Let's go Bucs!

PS: Pssssst .... .you guys ... is it October yet? No? DAMN!  Because ... baseball is fine, but .... I LOVE HOCKEY! Let's go Pens!

The Bucs lost the game and with the game the series. Sad but no catastrophe. I just hope they find their rhythm soon again for the 2nd half of the season. 

Franklin Toker - Buildings of Pittsburgh


This is the first one of a couple of Pittsburgh books I will read and review over the next couple of weeks / months. It's not that I'm not interested in anything else anymore - I am and after the book I am currently reading I desperatly need a novel again -, but I'm working on a bigger Pittsburgh project (more about this at a later point) together with Gabrijela and in preperation for this I need to dive  a bit deeper and learn more about my favorite city and espcieally its architecture.

Franklin Toker is the knowledgable author of several books about architecture in Western Pennsylvania - some especially focussed on Pittsburgh. The "Buildings of Pittsburgh" starts at the Point and really goes building by building (a for downtown that can be taken literally) out into the neighborhoods and close by communities providing short descriptions and facts about every listed structure. 

It's very, very interesting, but not the type of book you just read from the first to the last page. It's more a book you carry around in your bag while walking Pittsburgh ready to ge it out when you need some background information that goes beyond what regular travel books have to offer.

Nevertheless I learned a lot by flipping through the book like the fact that our beloved 16th Street Bridge was designed by the same architects like the Grand Central Terminal in New York. I also realized that I really spent not enough time downtown this spring and did ignore successfuly some great places in our residential hood (Lawernceville), but the good thing about buildings is that they usually do not run away and I can check back next time.

Speaking of buildings going away or not:  I so hope the Produce Terminal in the Strip Disctrict will survive the Allegheny waterfrond development unharmed. The magic of The Strip is a fragile thing and the terminal is an essential part of it. I would really welcome any development idea for the building instead of tearing it down (partially) like for example making the parts that are not commercially used to a community center for the old residents and the new who will live at the waterfrond. We'll see what happens ...

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