Will, to be sure, is an elegant writer, a little verbose at times, but dependably knowledgeable, stirringly erudite, thoughtfully opinionated, and, here and there, delightfully personal--as in the volume's leadoff hitter in which he traces his own conservative principles to growing up a Cub fan. His lineup continues with a breezy ode to Louisville Sluggers; encomiums to Casey Stengel, Camden Yards, Ripken, Gwynn, and Curt Flood; a startling about-face on the DH; an early homage to statsmeister Bill James; and indictments on the selfishness of Ted Williams, the callousness of the owners in labor- and fan-relations, and the sordid personalities of Pete Rose and Billy Martin. The volume ends with a pair of doubles in the form of larger essays on Jon Miller and the distinctive craft of broadcasting, and a concluding one on the state of the game.
"Baseball," Will observes, "is a habit. The slowly rising crescendo of each game, the rhythm of the long season--these are the essentials and they are remarkably unchanged over nearly a century and a half. Of how many American institutions can that be said?" The answer, of course, is not many, which is why Bunts provides a necessary and pleasing public service. --Jeff Silverman