Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager

Overview

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights follows 2004 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa through a three-game series with the arch-rival Chicago Cubs. Bissinger chronicles the process by which the manager leads his players to victory and distills the essence of the game from locker room and front office to dugout and field of play.

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Overview

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights follows 2004 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa through a three-game series with the arch-rival Chicago Cubs. Bissinger chronicles the process by which the manager leads his players to victory and distills the essence of the game from locker room and front office to dugout and field of play.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bissinger eschews the usual method of writing about baseball in the context of a season or a career, choosing instead to dissect the game by carefully watching one three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs in late 2003. The Pulitzer-winning journalist and author of Friday Night Lights had unprecedented access to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, as well as his staff and team, and he used that entr e to pick La Russa's formidable baseball brain about everything from how he assembles a lineup to why he uses certain relievers. As the series unfolds, Bissinger reveals La Russa's history and personality, conveying the manager's intensity and his compulsive need to be prepared for any situation that might arise during " `the war' of each at-bat." Typical characters-the gamer, the natural, the headcase, the crafty old timer-are present, but Bissinger gives new life to their familiar stories with his insider's view and cheeky descriptions (e.g., "Martinez's response to pressure has been like a 45-rpm record, a timeless hit on one side, and the flip side maybe best forgotten"). Bissinger analyzes each team's pitch-by-pitch strategy and gets the dirt on numerous enduring baseball questions: What does it feel like to have to close your first game in Yankee Stadium? Who knew about players using steroids before the current scandal hit? Do managers tell their pitchers to throw at hitters? Mixing classic baseball stories with little-known details and an exclusive perspective, this work should appeal to any baseball fan. Agent, David Gernert. (Apr. 5) Forecast: La Russa will make appearances tied in to the book's promo, and there will be a press conference for the book at spring training. Both should help this book rise to the top of this season's baseball book flood. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Baseball writing at its best should not be merely about championship games and record-setting feats. Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) takes in a three-game series between the rival Cubs and Cardinals, with enviable access to the baseball mind of St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, once a wonder boy among the generation of old-style "gut" managers and now an elder statesman to whiz-kid sabermatricians. For all fans of Bissinger's work and of pure baseball. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Is baseball a game? Not by this first-rate account of a battle of titans, in which a pampered star player insists that he's a "performer" and the manager-hero employs the strategic skills of a warlord. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, writes Vanity Fair contributing editor Bissinger, is "a baseball man" who proudly owns the appellation even though it "has become increasingly pejorative today because of the very stodginess it suggests." There's nothing stodgy about La Russa, even though he has revealed some very old-fashioned leanings against the use of performance-enhancing steroids and for winning performances by free agents who play their own stats-racking games against the better interests of the team. Bissinger's account ranges widely over La Russa's four decades in baseball: He started off as a player but, realizing he wasn't star material, began to badger his managers to tell him their secrets and took up the trade while still in his 20s. The bulk of his story, though, is devoted to a three-game series between the Cards and their nemesis, the Chicago Cubs, in August 2003, as the Cubs were racing their way to a long-awaited bid for the national championship. Bissinger takes care to analyze La Russa's decisions as they're being made on the field, drawing on La Russa's storied command of baseball statistics and history and his uncanny ability to match batters to pitchers, figure out opposing managers' signals, and such. Throughout, La Russa takes on the lonely countenance of a knight errant battling forces beyond his control, especially the unwillingness of players to exert themselves; as Bissinger writes, "La Russa calculates that, for today's players, winning is 'third orfourth on their list behind making money and having security and all that other BS.' "Even so, La Russa turns up results, as readers will discover-and, of course, he took the Cards to the World Series in 2004. A real treat for scholarly baseball fans, and a better management book than most on the business shelves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565119765
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 8 CDs, 10 hours
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Buzz Bissinger

BUZZ BISSINGER is the author of Friday Night Lights, a classic about the obsession for football in Odessa, Texas. Formerly a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer, he has won the Pulitzer Prize and the Livingston Award, among other honors. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

JEFFREY NORDLING has been working on stage and screen for 20 years.

Biography

Award-winning journalist and bestselling author H. G. ("Buzz") Bissinger has an undeniable knack for capturing the rhythms of life in big cities and small towns alike. While working as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, he and two colleagues shared a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for their six-part investigative series on corruption in the city's court system. A year later, reports of "the winningest high school football team in Texas history" led Bissinger to the economically depressed and racially divided town of Odessa, where he followed the team in question, the mighty Permian Panthers, on their quest for the state championship. Upon its publication in 1990, Friday Night Lights became an instant classic -- a cautionary tale about the dangers of sports obsession that remains required reading in many American high schools. It was filmed in 2004 and inspired a critically acclaimed television show.

Bissinger shines at "immersion journalism." Granted unlimited access in the mid-'90s to then-mayor of Philadelphia Ed Rendell, he crafted a superb behind-the-scenes account of Rendell's uphill struggle to rescue the decaying city from economic decline. Published in 1998, A Prayer for the City became a New York Times Notable Book of the year. Then, in 2005, he parlayed his relationship with Cards manager Tony La Russa into the bestseller Three Nights in August, an intriguing view of major-league baseball filtered through the lens of a three-game series between the rival Cubs and Cardinals.

In addition to his bestselling nonfiction, Bissinger has produced in-depth articles for a variety of publications -- most notably Vanity Fair, where he works as a contributing editor. Among his best-known pieces are an exposé of Stephen Glass, the disgraced New Republic reporter fired for journalistic fraud; a probing profile of the merciless, mercurial radio shock jock Don Imus; and a poignant story about the life and death of the great thoroughbred racehorse Barbaro.

Good To Know

Some fascinating outtakes and fun facts from our interview with Bissinger:

"One of the inspirations for my becoming a writer was the baseball board game Strat-O-Matic. I started playing it as a kid when I was ten or eleven. The game featured individual cards for every player in the major leagues. The results were incredibly realistic and after each game I would sit down at my typewriter and type up a game story as if I was writing for the New York Times."

"My grandmother got her law degree from Syracuse University in roughly 1911 and later co-founded with her husband an investment banking firm on Wall Street known as Lebenthal & Co. My parents worked at the firm and so did my uncle. As for my grandmother, she worked at Lebenthal until her early nineties."

"I am the father of twin sons that were born in Philadelphia at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1983. They were 13 weeks premature. Gerry weighed 1 pound 14 ounces, and Zachary 1 pound 11 ounces. They were the first male twins to ever survive at Pennsylvania Hospital. They are thriving today. Talk about miracles."

"I am 5'6" and desperately wish I was taller."

In 1998, Vanity Fair published Bissinger's article "Shattered Glass," an exposé of the career of disgraced New Republic writer Stephen Glass, who was fired for journalistic fraud. The article was later adapted for the 2003 film of the same name.

Bissinger admits to having an "abiding hatred" for the blog-o-sphere. In April, 2008, he appeared on Bob Costas's television series Costas Now and launched an angry tirade against Will Leitch, creator of the sports blog "Deadspin."

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    1. Also Known As:
      H. G. Bissinger
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 1, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, 1985-1986

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
Preface xi
Foreword by Tony La Russa xvii
Prologue 1
GAME ONE
1 Fear Factor 17
2 Locked In 26
3 "I'm Gonna Kill You!" 41
4 The Peeker 53
5 The Pitcher's Tale 67
6 Praying for Change 85
GAME TWO
7 Gonzalez Must Pay 105
8 Light My Fire 121
9 Whodunit 138
10 Being There 156
11 Under Pressure 175
GAME THREE
12 D.K. 199
13 Thing of Beauty 216
14 Kiss My Ass 224
15 Three Nights in August 240
Epilogue 254
Postscript 264
A Note on Sources 269
Acknowledgments 271
Index 273
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2008

    A reviewer

    The book Three Nights in August is a book that tells about the preparation and stress to manage a Major league baseball team and have a normal life. Tony LaRussa is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and one of the best and most respected managers in all of baseball. In the book the cardinals are in a tight Central division race with the Astros and the rival cubs who are in town for a three game series. This series could help a team in the divisional race. If you thank being a major league manager is easy well you tell me that after reading what Tony LaRussa went through. This book is not only a look into what Tony LaRussa does before a big game, but what the whole cardinal club house is doing before a big game. Read this book and find out what one of the best managers I have ever seen. I loved this book and give it 10 out of 10. If you love baseball you may enjoy this unless you are a cub fan.

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