Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Review: Run It! And Let's Get the Hell Out of Here!

One thing that annoys me about sports books is a percentage of the books out there about sports aren't so much actual books as compendiums of some basic lists around a gimmick. These can be better (The Maisel Report) or worse (The Paolantonio Report), but ultimately they pretty much all end up feeling gimmicky and unsatisfying. When I first saw a listing of Jonathan Rand's "Run It! And Let's Get the Hell Out of Here!": The 100 Best Plays in Pro Football History, I noted it on my spreadsheet, but mentally marked it as "Maybe, if the local library has it and I'm bored," and pretty much forgot about it. After listening to this podcast interview with Rand by Chase Stuart of PFR Blog, I ended up picking up a copy for classic Amazon used price of $0.01 + shipping during my Month of Book Buying.

So, having read and acquired Run It!, how was it? Well, pretty much as I expected it to be. The definition of "play" is not limited to a "play" as the NFL rulebook might define it-a single snap or kickoff-but instead a somewhat more metaphorical definition more like "the actions of a single player in a single game, which is preferably but need not be a single play." I'd expected this from the book title, and Rand confirmed as much in the podcast, so this wasn't a surprise, even if the purist in me doesn't like it (Vernon Perry's 4 INT game is not a "play", darnit). Each play gets a couple pages to have its story told, and Rand generally includes an interview with one or more of the people involved in the play in addition to the description of what happened. It's all quite competently done, but if I don't sound excited, it's because I'm not. Run It! fulfilled its purpose, in that it served me reasonably as something to read during, say, a lunch break at work, because it's the sort of book you can consume in smaller sized chunks without any need for immersing yourself in it. Of course, it's also the kind of book that doesn't reward immersing yourself in or mass consumption-if I tried to read more than 5 or 10 plays in a row, they all started running together pretty quickly.

Overall, I'd say I wish I hadn't been swayed by the podcast into forking over the $4.00 for Run It!, simply because I don't tend to enjoy this kind of book. If you're someone who does, though, Run It! might be a book you'd enjoy.

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