The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga
A Major League Baseball season usually lasts around 180 days, with 163 games played during that time. Think of that – 163 games in 180 days. Two to four days off a month. Not two to four days off a week – two to four days off a month. When Barry Svrluga, beat reporter for The Washington Post calls the season “the grind,” he means it literally. And that doesn’t take into account this COVID-19 wracked season, where there may be far fewer games, but the pace of them is even tougher.
We can understand why players “just keep grinding” through a season – love of the game, love of competition, playing at the pinnacle of their sport – but what about the affects beyond the game itself, beyond the players? For indeed, beyond the revered veteran, the celebrated starting pitcher, the reliever who has to be ready to jump into the game on any given day, and the hopeful youngster bouncing back and forth between the majors and the minors, there are a myriad of supporting players involved in the day to day operations of a team. What of them?
Based on a series of articles written for The Washington Post, author Barry Svrluga chronicles the Washington Nationals’ 2014 season, but instead of focusing on the drama of the game itself he shares behind-the-scenes glimpses of the affect of the season on the players, and on those who support them: coaches, scouts, equipment managers and schedulers, wives and families, even the general manger Mike Rizzo, himself. The ups, the downs, the triumphs and the physical tolls, the unity of the team and the impermanence of the business, dealing with loss, dealing with promise; dealing with schedules affected by rainouts, dealing with a lonely life on the road searching for tomorrow’s stars, dealing with adjusting a toddler’s schedule so he can be awake for the games so as to spend a few precious hours with daddy afterwards, dealing with packing up an apartment, a house, a life, when a trade is made and lives shift from one day to the next.
The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season is a compelling glimpse into this very human side of Major League Baseball, sans the celebrated stats, the highlight reels, or the poured-over metrics (saber- or otherwise). Instead, this book is a real eye opener, giving the reader a deeper awareness of just how much goes on behind the game itself during the course of a season, told in simple, informative prose.
If you’re a fan of baseball, as I am, and especially if you enjoy the game beyond the win/loss column, you’d do well to pick up a copy of The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season. It’s a slight book, easily digested, well written, fun and enlightening. And take it from me – reading The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season will enhance your appreciation of the game – in fact, all 163, er, 60 of them; and if you’re lucky, maybe a few beyond those, to boot.