The Best St. Louis Sports Arguments: A Review

Recently, I (along with some other Cardinal bloggers) was asked to review a new book coming out.  Being that it got me a free book and I’m an avid reader, I was up for the task.

So, Wednesday, The Best St. Louis Sports Arguments showed up at my door.  A trade paperback-sized book, it numbers 265 pages (not counting the index and biography of author Bryan Burwell) and puts out 100 different debatable topics.

Actually, that 100 number is a little inflated.   For example, Burwell runs down his “dream team” for the Cardinals–but each player is counted as a separate question, from 31 to 51.  It would make sense if you only got to use each position once.  I mean, if you had to argue the best pitcher in Cardinal history, sure, that’s a topic.  But when you get to select 5 starters, three first basemen, two second basemen, two third basemen and 6 outfielders, it seems a little padded.  A better job is done with the football squad, where it is more limited to one per position.

There’s a lot of Cardinal baseball in this book, but it is not 95% about the Birds, like you might imagine.  There are a lot of topics about the Rams and football Cardinals, not to mention the St. Louis Hawks of the NBA.  College sports were also addressed, but I felt that was a little bit of a “cheat” as well.

Because the colleges that are selected from are Missouri, St. Louis University and even Illinois.  Burwell states that is because of the heavy local interest for those teams, and perhaps that is so.  I don’t live anywhere close to St. Louis so I’m not qualified to comment on that.

However, if I were writing about the greatest moments of sporting history of my town, even though most everyone follows the University of Arkansas up in Fayetteville, I wouldn’t let those top moments be on my list.  I would limit it to the local college, which would seem more reasonable to me.

On the whole, I found myself agreeing with many of Burwell’s choices.  I wasn’t thrilled with his conclusion that St. Louis really isn’t a baseball town, just appears to be one, but he backed up his argument (booing fans, leaving early, bad attendance when the team isn’t good) pretty well.  I’d argue that some of being a baseball town was the knowledge of the fan base, the appreciation of both teams, and the following the team has, even if it doesn’t translate into numbers.  But I can definitely see where Burwell is coming from.

He also didn’t think the Cards/Cubs was a real rivalry, mainly due to the Cubs’ lack of success, which meant that the games rarely meant anything.  It might not have the hatred and vitrol of the Red Sox and Yankees, but I think it’s a good rivalry nonetheless.

I don’t want to give away too much of the book, because it’s definitely worth reading for yourself.  You may disagree often with him, especially if you are more knowledgeable of the St. Louis scene than I am, but that’s part of the charm of the book.  If you do pick it up, though, you’ll want to read the brief exchange between three people about Albert Pujols.  When two of them are Buck O’Neill and Lou Brock, it’s worth listening to!

Save for a couple of inconsistencies (in one place, Burwell writes Gibson gave up two earned runs in 95 innings during 1968, another place two earned runs in 99), it is a well-written book, free of obvious typos (which can be so irritating.  It’s a quick read, due to the larger font and the size of the book, and I enjoyed going through it.

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14 Responses to “The Best St. Louis Sports Arguments: A Review”

  1. erik Says:

    yeah, i’m not a big fan of burwell. it isn’t just a rivalry, it’s a great rivalry. why even put that into print?

  2. cards4life Says:

    i was going to review the book, but had too many things going on and decided against it. i dont think i missed much. reading about the usual arguments that come up in saint louis about sports doesnt seem that appealing since i usually can back up my opinion with stats/facts most of the time. seems like an average book, a decent read….meh.

  3. cardinal70 Says:

    I guess it really depends on what your definition of a rivalry is. If there has to be something big on the line, then yeah, Cards/Cubs does tend to lack. But if it’s something people look forward to every year, no matter how the teams are doing, then it’s definitely up there.

    The argument I had never heard, and maybe that’s because I’m not in the Lou, was that the Musial statue needs to be replaced with a better likeness. I never knew people argued about that.

    I thought it was decent, probably a little above average, but “list” type books can’t really get into the “great” area, I don’t think.

  4. Deaner Says:

    I have been working on my review and will probably post it within the next week. I also make note of the “Dream Teams” inflating the number of questions addressed.

  5. undorgre Says:

    C70, with Christmas coming soon could you send me your copy of Burwell’s book? I’m sure it will be getting cold soon and I need something to help ignite the wood in my fireplace.

  6. Deaner Says:

    I been trying to give my review some more publicity by posting links on chat forums. Man have I received some rude messages! Not only directly toward Burwell but towards me as well. I think CCH is the only place that I haven’t received some rude reply message from (so far).

  7. erik Says:

    i guess i could see that, but i’m not totally buying it. but say take kansas and mizzou for example. it’s a pretty good rivalry, but doesn’t really register with most college football fans, other then fans from those two schools. but next saturday, it’ll be a great rivalry game, the veritable nexus of the college football universe.

  8. cardinal70 Says:

    Burwell does tend to be someone that inflames the passions, for whatever reason. I don’t read him often enough to know where he stands on stuff (save that he really doesn’t like McGwire with the steroid allegations) to know why.

    I think rivalries always are huge to the people involved. It doesn’t become a national “rivalry” until the stakes are big, or the press is. 🙂

  9. tom@cardinalsgm.com Says:

    I, sadly, never received the book after they asked me to. Kind of makes me want to cry. Naw, not really. Just wondered why I didnt get one.

  10. cardinal70 Says:

    I don’t know why you didn’t, Tom. Maybe there was some sort of mixup–e-mail them back and check on it.

  11. tom@cardinalsgm.com Says:

    Book is on the way for my review!

  12. cardinal70 Says:

    Great! Look forward to reading what your take it is!

  13. Daniel Says:

    I didnt know about the statue likeness either.

    I don’t get Burwell’s dislike for Big Mac.

  14. ChiTown Says:

    The St. Louis area has a rich tradition with soccer. Yet, in his book, he makes only one reference to the sport and that is his argument about the best sports movie filmed in STL (The Game of their Lives). No mention of the Stars or the Steamers. No mention of St. Louis U. or SIU-E and all of the NCAA men’s titles that they won. No mention of some of the local legends such as Harry and Ty Keough, Al Trost, Pat McBride, Steve Pecher, Slobo Illieski, etc. Soccer is a sport in St. Louis.


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