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Herzog didn't earn his nickname as baseball's White Rat simply because of his hair color. Former manager of the Royals, Angels, and Cards, Herzog is one of baseball's great tacticians and blue-collar philosophers. He's tenacious and volatile; when the game's on the line, he's never held back, all of which is good news for the reader. For the fan, the color is less rosy. From Herzog's knowledgeable vantage point, baseball's integrity, despite a marvelous '98 season, is very much on the line these days, in danger of striking itself out as it loses touch with its fundamentals. Power is in, and subtlety's out. Singles hitters swing for the fences. Finesse, like bunting, is on the verge of extinction. Small-market teams can't compete. Free agency destroys loyalty. The wild-card, six divisions, and the extended playoffs undercut the pennant races. The game is in chaos.
Naturally, all of that--and more--has the Rat looking back at the good old days, gnawing over what worked; he's not afraid to show his teeth. His passionate screed raises questions, chews on problems, and spits out interesting solutions in a colloquial breeze that blows air more fresh than hot. Circling the bases of this personal-insider's journey, he examines why his baseball heroes--Casey Stengel, Ted Williams, Tom Seaver, and Ozzie Smith, for starters--are just that, and why the game needs more of them. "Baseball itself is a little nearsighted right now," he complains, "and there ain't any harm in riding it some. Maybe we can be the bench jockeys." Why not? Herzog's certainly shown a knack for bringing home winners from that position before, and the fun of Missin' is the ease with which it invites us all to join him for the ride.
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