The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball
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The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball

3.5 130
by Frank Deford
     
 

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"In men like Traveler and Alcazar we find the beating heart and struggling soul of baseball..." -Jeff MacGregor, Sports Illustrated; author of Sunday Money

Howie Traveler never made it as a player-his one major league hit and .091 batting average attest to that. He was cursed with that worst of professional maladies, the ill fortune of almost.

Overview

"In men like Traveler and Alcazar we find the beating heart and struggling soul of baseball..." -Jeff MacGregor, Sports Illustrated; author of Sunday Money

Howie Traveler never made it as a player-his one major league hit and .091 batting average attest to that. He was cursed with that worst of professional maladies, the ill fortune of almost.

Now after years of struggling up the coaching ladder, Howie's finally been given his shot: as manager of the Cleveland Indians. But America's pastime has changed. Whether Howie can spot a small flaw in a batter's swing won't matter if he can't manage his superstar outfielder Jay Alcazar, a slugger with enormous talent (and an ego to match).

No crisis on the field fazes Jay and no woman off the field ever rejects him. But one night at the hotel Howie sees something at Jay's door he wishes he hadn't...and it leaves Howie with an impossible choice.

From six-time National Sportswriter of the Year and NPR commentator Frank Deford comes a richly detailed, page-turning tale that takes you deep into America's game. From the dugouts to the tabloid scandals, from the lights of the field to the glare of the media, The Entitled is the great novel of baseball's modern era.

"The Entitled is a baseball masterpiece, like The Natural and Field of Dreams; the difference is the plot and the characters depict the true inside world of baseball. Frank Deford writes like he played in the majors for ten years. If you have a passion for baseball, this is a must read." -Mike Schmidt, Baseball Hall of Fame

"Frank Deford is not just an immensely talented sportswriter, he's an immensely talented American writer. The Entitled is his wise and pleasurable portrait of a Willy Loman-like baseball manager finally getting his chance in the Bigs late in his career." -David Halberstam

"Engrossing...Readers are exposed to a richly textured understanding of baseball and, no less, of estrangement, ambition, mendacity and the search for one's destiny-notwithstanding the cost in human or financial terms." -Library Journal

"I loved The Entitled and could not put it down. It was a great read from start to finish with characters that reminded me of the many people I've known and played with-pure baseball." ——Lou Piniella, Manager, Chicago Cubs

" The Entitled contains all of the keen insider knowledge one expects of America's premier sports journalist. It also displays Frank Deford's gifts for dialogue and intricate plotting and his poignant grasp of character. It proves once again that Deford can play at the highest level in any league." -Michael Mewshaw, author of Year of the Gun

"Deford scores another hit with this novel of athletes behaving badly...tackles timely and provocative issues without flinching." -Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402212550
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
03/01/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Entitled

That Night

So, for Howie, it was, at last: neither resignation on the one hand, nor anger on the other. No, it was sim¬ply awful, horrible disappointment that tore at him. That it all must end this way. No, not this way. Any¬way it ended would be a calamity, because despair would follow, and Howie understood himself well enough to know that he didn't possess the creative resources to really ever overcome that despair.

This is the way he put it, over the phone, to Lindsay: "I'm a dead man, sweetie. I know I won't get outta Baltimore alive."

Howie was, after all, a practical man. Whenever one of his regulars would go onto the disabled list, all the writers would flutter around him, asking how the team could possibly manage until the wounded star returned.

"I don't deal with the dead," Howie would reply. That concluded the discussion. Ask me about the ones who could suit up. You play with what you had. And now it was he who was the dead man, because he was positive that he was going to be fired in Baltimore, and that would mean the end of his life in baseball, which was the only existence he had ever known.

There was a singular blessing. Because his demise was so clear-cut, he had, for the short term, found a certain calm within, so by the time he got to Baltimore he was concerned mostly with how, when the inevitable happened, he must display dignity upon his leave-taking. There would be no grousing. He would, in fact, thank the Indians for giving him the opportu¬nity to manage in the major leagues. He would wish the team and the organization well.

There would be no backbiting. Of course, yes, he would, in passing (only in passing, you understand), recall how well the team had done under his aegis his first year on the job. He would not embellish that fact, but he would mention it (in passing) so as to remind everyone that just because Howie Traveler was a busher, he had shown that he could damn well man¬age a team in the big leagues. He had proved that. It was important to leave the media bastards with that. Especially the talk radio bastards, those who spewed venom for a living, and those amateur venom-spewing bastards who just called in.

When he got to Baltimore and found the time, Howie was going to write down what he wanted to say, and then commit it to memory so that he would display extemporaneous eloquence in his last public appearance.

In the meantime, he tried to pretend that he was not dwelling on what everyone knew. The pallbearers were assembling. Not only the columnists from the Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal, but, as well, the lead columnist of the Columbus Dispatch had signed onto the press manifest this trip, ready to dress up his obituary on the spot for the enlightenment of central Ohio fans. After all, a road trip offered the kind of time¬table general managers preferred for these proceedings. Fire the manager away from home. Let an interim manager-in this case, the team's trusty old reliable, Spencer "Frosty" Westerfield, the bench coach-handle the next series, in Chicago, and then have the new man on hand, prepared to assume command- "take the helm," as the papers would have it-when the team returned to Cleveland, ready to start fresh, turn a new leaf, salvage the season, restore the damage that he, Howie Traveler, had indisputably done.

Never was anything so pat. So Howie just waited for Moncrief to fly in from Cleveland and fire him. Of course, everybody knows that baseball managers are, as it is written in stone, hired to be fired, but this was cold comfort when you were the manager in question and this was your time to be eighty-sixed.

O'Reilly, one of the newspaper beat men who liked Howie and drank with him sometimes, told him that Diaz was already in Cleveland, working out his deal. Nobody could locate Diaz, but O'Reilly said they knew he was there. This figured. Even when the Indians had hired Howie, the season before last, there had been a lot of speculation that Diaz would get the job instead. Diaz was surely Jay Alcazar's man, and if Juan Francisco Alcazar, El Jefe-The Chief-could not put out his best for Howie (which this season he evidently chose not to) then it would be just a matter of time before Diaz was brought in. So this is where it stood, Diaz working out the details of his contract, whereupon, that buttoned up, Moncrief would pop over to Baltimore, via Southwest Air, and, with the saddest, most sympathetic expression he could man¬age to put on, basset-faced, he would tell Howie that he was toast.

Once there was a basketball coach named Cholly Eckman, and when he got a call from the owner, who told him he was "going to make a change in your department," Cholly said "fine." Then, as Cholly recalled, it ruefully occurred to him that he was the only one in his department.

Nowadays, though, what general managers tell man¬agers when they fire them is that: "We have decided to go in another direction." Unsaid: that direction will be up, whereas you, you dumb sonuvabitch, have been taking us in a direction that is most assuredly down.

So now, Howie put on the best smile he could man¬age, of the sort he assayed when he had to take a staged photograph at a charity auction or some such thing. "I wish I could think to say something really clever wise-ass when Moncrief tells me that," he said.
He had arrived in Baltimore and was eating dinner (as best he could) with his daughter.

"Don't, Daddy," Lindsay said. "Just be classy, like always. Everybody with any sense knows it's not your fault. Go out with style, and that'll help you get another chance."
Howie took his hand off his Old Grandad, reached over and laid it on hers. Lindsay was his only daughter, only family now, really. How adorable it was of her, how thoughtful, that she had come up from Washington, where she worked as a lawyer for some arcane House subcommittee, to see him. She had just showed up, knowing what an incredibly difficult time he was going through. She had been standing there when Howie came out of the clubhouse after the game tonight. The Indians had beaten the Orioles, 6-4. Alcazar had gone three-for-five, with a monstrous home run and then a two-run double in the ninth that won the game. He'd been dogging it all season, it seemed, but now that he knew Howie was shit-canned, he was suddenly a hitting fool again.

And then there was Lindsay, standing outside the clubhouse. Howie almost cried. Funny, too. He didn't instantly recognize her, for she was there, amidst a covey of other women, who were there to consort with his ballplayers. Howie could forget sometimes that Lindsay was a grown woman now, and more than that: as pretty (well, almost so) as the sort of women ball¬players would take out on the road. Lindsay Traveler had more style, though, than those sort of women. Howie didn't himself necessarily possess style-for one thing, to his eternal despair, his legs were too short, and he had a lumpy face-but he recognized style when he was within its penumbra.

Somehow, Lindsay-she, a lousy minor league ballplayer's daughter-had learned to dress in that way chic ladies of fashion do, with the ability to choose clothes that manage to work so perfectly that they count twice-once for how they look and then again because they proclaim to the world: this lady knows what's best, what's right, what's stylish, so don't even try to put one over on her.

What People are saying about this

Lou Piniella
I loved The Entitled and could not put it down. It was a great read from start to finish with characters that reminded me of the many people I've known and played with—pure baseball.
Michael Mewshaw
The Entitled contains all of the keen insider knowledge one expects of America's premier sports journalist. It also displays Frank Deford's gifts for dialogue and intricate plotting and his poignant grasp of character. It proves once again that Deford can play at the highest level in any league. (Michael Mewshaw, author of Year of the Gun)
Mike Schmidt
The Entitled is a baseball masterpiece, like The Natural and Field of Dreams; the difference is the plot and the characters depict the true inside world of baseball. Frank Deford writes like he played in the majors for ten years. If you have a passion for baseball, this is a must read.
David Halberstam
Frank Deford is not just an immensely talented sportswriter, he's an immensely talented American writer. The Entitledis his wise and pleasurable portrait of a Willy Loman-like baseball manager finally getting his chance in the Bigs late in his career.

Meet the Author

Frank Deford is a six-time National Sportswriter of the Year, Senior Contributing Editor at Sports Illustrated, commentator on NPR's Morning Edition and a correspondent on the HBO show RealSports with Bryant Gumbel. In addition to being the author of more than a dozen books, he has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters and has been awarded both an Emmy and a Peabody. Two of his books, Everybody's All-American and Alex: The Life of a Child, a memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis, have been made into movies. Sporting News describes Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media" and GQ simply calls him "the world's greatest sportswriter." Deford resides in Connecticut with his wife, Carol.

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Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 130 reviews.
JPMAZ More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for something with exciting play-by-play, this is NOT the book for you.. If, on the other hand, you like a story that goes behind the scenes and searches out the inner workings of the characters, I think that you'll really enjoy "The Entitled." I bought this book because I am familiar with Mr DeFord's history with Sports Illustrated, and he uses his years as a sportswriter to craft a story that, like his magazine articles, I could not put it down until I reached the last page; then was more than a little disappointed that we weren't taken to the end of the season. (Read the book and find out just what I mean...)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for sparkling field play or dramatic at-bats, look elsewhere. There are better books for that found elsewhere. What this is about is human interactions, the privilege and entitlements we bestow upon our stars...whether they want them or not, and the courage it takes to sacrifice a life's works and dreams to do the right thing. Howie Traveler finds himself in the crux of a dilema. He sees something that he wishes he didn't and now must decide what to do about it. If he tells, he likely loses his job and career, as the manager of the Cleveland Indians. He would also tarnish the career of future Hall-of-Famer Jay Alcazar. Howie has sacrificed everything; his marriage, family, and personal relationships for baseball. His career as a player has been lackluster...he made the big leagues, but only briefly. He's bounced around from town to town in the minor leagues. Like many "almost was'," he eventually gets yhe opportunity to coach and manage and finds he's got a talent for it. After finally getting the chance to manage in the big leagues, he finds some success riding the back of Alcazar. Alcazar loves baseball and has an immense talent for the game. Thrust into the spotlight, he receives many of the rights and privileges that stars receive...prefered seating at restraunts, special treatment by management and lots of women. He doesn't necessarily want this, but neither does he turn it down. Jay is a Cuban immigrant, but has been raised since infancy, in luxury, by his aunt and uncle in Miami. As a young man of means, he decides to go to Cuba to find his mother and bring her to the U.S. What he finds there affects him deeply and he just isn't the same player the next season. Of course, Howie gets the blame for the poor performance and is on the verge of getting fired when the incident happens. This is an excellent book! There'a lot going on here and very little of it is actually about baseball. The author even includes topics for discussion by book clubs. I will say that a book club taking this on should probably include both males and females just for the differing perspectives. I hope you enjoy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a baseball fan myself but was immediately caught up in the story. Well writen and sadly relevant. Great insight on many levels. Highly recommend.
Hazel-LMS More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! I don't know anything about baseball- not a sports fan at all. This book just goes to show you that it doesn't matter what the subject is, doesn't matter if you know or care to know anything about the subject - if it is well written, it will be a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a great way to learn about baseball, with a blott that makes you think of your own values, hard to put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised after finishing the Entitled. I got this book part of the Free Nook Book Friday program. The ratings for the book aren't very good, but I thought I'd give it a chance, mostly because I am really into sports and never read sports books. This book is a very quick read, and I feel it should only be read by people who know baseball. The massive amounts of baseball references were both good and bad in my opinion. It added to the credibility of the author (I didn't know he was a Sports Illustrated author beforehand) and even had a few old school references I had never heard before. There were times that I felt there was almost too many references about baseball which took a away from the story just a tad. Overall, I felt a connection with the main characters in the short span of the book and liked the way in which this fictional story was tied into real life with the mentioning of Kobe Bryant and playing in the MLB. This book should definitely only be read by baseball or sports lovers because it is such a main theme of the book. Despite that, the story itself is a good one, just a quickie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this Free Friday book. Some of the reviews weren't so good, but to me it was a very good book about people and also, about baseball. I would recommend it to anyone. Free or not. And for those who don't like the Free Friday books you can go out to B&N search and either enter free or 0.00 and get tons of free books and not just on Friday!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frank Deford's story about a lifelong baseball guy who finally gets his chance to manage in the big leagues is a surprisingly good read. Deford is a fine article writer, but I wasn't sure if he'd hold up for a novel-length story. For me, he did a good job! Every single character is multifaceted. I found myself rooting for Howie, and angered by Howie. The "entitled" star player, Alacazar, I tended to dislike ... but then his redemptive side showed up. And I was angry with some of the ethical choices of several otherwise honorable characters. But then, that really is life, isn't it? Nobody's perfect, though we wish we were ... or egotistically think we are. My biggest issue with the book is how Deford jumps back and forth in the timeline. But ultimately, the jumps backward were needed to more fully understand the next events. So that issue became less distracting the more I read. Lots to chew on in this story, from the love of baseball to issues of race, sex, crime, integrity, loyalty, and honesty. Well worth the time to read. And thanks, BN, for making this quality read a Free Fridays selection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An authentic view of the off field lives of professional baseball team members.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best baseball books I've read. If you want action on baseball this is yours. And big thanks to B&N for putting this on free friday
counselorman More than 1 year ago
Great baseball human-interest story. Mr. Deford is my favorite sports commentator and his book did not disappoint. Although the story is more about family than baseball. An enjoyable read. Somewhat confusing at first, but everything becomes clear as the story unfolds.
Mike_Donehoo More than 1 year ago
Highly Recommended Baseball forms the backdrop for this well-crafted novel, and the backstory of most of the characters, but The Entitled is not about baseball. It is a serious and thought-provoking story populated by complex characters. I found no one either wholly virtuous or totally evil. My one quibble is Mr. Deford's back and forth time jumps, which I found very difficult to follow. If not for this, I would have enthusiastically given The Entitled five stars. It was one of my favorite reads this year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a sports story, so don't expect Tolkien-ish plot depth, but a good story none-the-less; aside from awkward timeline changes, this is a darn good read
Xyta More than 1 year ago
While I found the way the book jumped forwards and backwards in time a bit distracting, and the tendency to put two different characters' sentences in the same paragraph made following some conversations difficult, the story was quite engrossing and I just wish it went a bit further.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this novel. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
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