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Sports Corner

Gift books for the sports fan in your life

Playing With Fire

It’s Not About the Bike
by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins, $16

This book is over 10 years old, but still riveting and very well written (by Jenkins). It’ll bring tears to your eyes and doubt to your mind as you wonder if the Armstrong doping allegations of the 2000s are true. Was it about the bike? The heart? The cancer? The EPO? The determination? Or all of the above?


The History of Surfing
by Matt Warshaw, $50

Fat, big, with beautiful photos and well-written text – if the surfer in your life doesn’t already have it, this is the perfect gift. It’s so attractive and large even Jeff Spicoli couldn’t lose it.


Four Days in July: Tom Watson, the 2009 Open Championship, and a Tournament for the Ages
by Jim Huber, $24.99

In 2009, Tom Watson, nearing 60 years old, almost won the British Open. Right up there with Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters at age 46, Watson’s four rounds were wonderful. Sort of the Moneyball of golf where the less-talented, over-the-hill, plucky guy (almost) wins. But for golf fans, this is what it’s all about: brains, class and a deep respect for the history of the game. One of the greatest golf books ever.


Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders
by Peter Richmond, $14.99

Relive the Raiders’ heyday, when the guys were a bit smaller, the padding a bit softer, and the personalities exponentially larger, in a time before every little burst of flamboyance is scrutinized on Sports Center as if it’s the Zapruder film. These days, just like Renaissance Faire habitués, Raiders fans dress up and go, honoring the past. Maybe the Oakland team needs to find a new logo and let the past be the past.


Playing With Fire
by Theo Fleury and Kirstie McLellan, $14.95

Living with drug and alcohol addictions, being sexually abused by his junior hockey coach, constantly told that he was too small to play in the NHL, Theo Fleury played aggressively and successfully, scoring over 1,000 NHL points and playing over 1,000 NHL games. If the great Tennessee Williams had written about hockey, he would have created Theo Fleury.


The Ecstasy of Defeat:  Sports Reporting at it’s Finest
by the editors of The Onion, $21.99

Sometimes, waking up with a bad hangover the dawn after an especially terrible Giants/Raiders/Niners/Warriors/Sharks/A’s/Quakes defeat cleaves an existential gash in one’s mind that brings forth the realization that following spectator sports is ridiculous. By midmorning, a greasy, caffeinated breakfast has spackled over the deeper reality and soon we’re surfing Stubhub for more tickets. This book, chock-a-block with absurd hilarity, will keep a sliver of perspective on your bookshelf.


Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success: 12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance and Personal Excellence
by John Wooden and Steve Jamison, $26.95

Ultimately, competitive sports are about success. Lots of ex-coaches speechify in front of Rotarians. None of them have transformed their view into such a concrete philosophy as UCLA coach John Wooden. A great book to grab during a TV timeout during your fourth game of the day, when the artichoke dip is solidifying in your veins. Keep it within arms-distance so you don’t have to get up from the couch. But beware, it might motivate you.


All of these books are available at Books Inc. on Chestnut Street.

Steve Hermanos is the author of O, Gigantic Victory! Baseball Poems: The 2010 Championship Season. He is also a real estate agent at 2200 Union Street.
E-mail: steve@marinatimes.com
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