A year ago I would have not bet anything that I'd have come across—and been enthusiastic about—a book by a sports radio host, but stranger things have happened. This is the odd story of how I came to read a fantastic book, one I cannot recommend highly enough.
The story starts a few years ago.
Living in the hills of northeast Orange County California, my crappy clock radio only gets one station, powerhouse KFI AM 640 out of Los Angeles, and though the daytime fare is entertaining enough, it's the nighttime programming that put me over the edge.
All UFOs, All The Time
Overnight, KFI airs syndicated Coast to Coast AM hosted by George Noory (taking over for Art Bell), dedicated to every kind of wierd nonsense you can name: UFOs; remote viewing; conspiracies; numerology; vampires; the afterlife; Atlantis; paranormal reptilians; prophesies. Everything ridiculous.
The Mayans/Dec 2012 were to Coast to Coast AM what Sarah Palin was to Tina Fey.
A recurring guest is one Richard Hoagland, who at first comes across as exceptionally bright and articulate, but it doesn't take long before "NASA is hiding evidence of life on Mars" came oozing out, along with a 'tude of epic condescension, to really ruin the experience. If there's anybody whose life ought to be consigned to whacking off a stallion read the book, it's this guy.
Why did it take me years to do this? Duh.
I spent a coupla days just tuning around to see what's what, but I found to my surprise and delight that local ESPN affiliate (and Angels flagship station) KLAA carries the Angels game live, plus — this is the good part — a replay every midnight.
Woot! I love baseball! It's a great way to drift off to sleep.
I totally got back into the sport of my youth, enjoyed following the team, and became completely ensorceled with then-rookie phenom Mike Trout, who was tearing up the game, unanimously won the American League Rookie of the Year, and—most importantly—shares August 7 with me as a birthday.
For the first time in years, I went to Angel Stadium with some very dear friends, and loved it.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
Having never been even remotely interested in sports radio, I nevertheless woke up to the national show Mike and Mike in the Morning, one of the most popular radio shows in the country, I had never heard of it, but even though I only tuned in because it was playing from the night before, I was quickly captured by it because it's so well done (albeit from 3-7AM Pacific time).
Mike Greenberg is the journalist go Jets, Mike Golic played pro football as a 6'5" defensive tackle go Irish for years, and I could identify with both of them from my high-school days. Greeny would have been in chess club with me, and Golic would have been one of the jocks who depantsed both of us periodically. Ah, the memories :-)
I don't really care for most of sports, but these guys are both pros, and I got to really appreciate the whole "inside baseball" aspect where I could see the subtle and nuanced backstories that had never occurred to me before.
Professional sports is professional. In some other life, these guys would be close friends of mine.
All You Could Ask For
After listening to Mike and Mike for a year, and really coming to respect both Mikes, it turns out that Greeny wrote his first novel, "All You Could Ask For", and he was out on a book tour.
I knew nearly nothing about the book itself, other than it was reported to be "smart, sensitive, and very funny", and that all author proceeds were going to the V Foundation, named for famous basketball coach and broadcaster Jim Valvano, whose life was taken by cancer at age 47 (3 years younger than me).
This has all the hallmarks of an Oprah Book Club selection— the very mention of which makes me want to throw up in my mouth, just a little—but I was drawn to it anyway and bought it for my Kindle.
I loved this book, it having captured my attention from the very first paragraph.
The problem is: describing the book makes it sound like an Oprah Book Club selection, which could not be less appealing to me, having already thrown up in my mouth. Again. But I couldn't put this book down.
It's written entirely in the voice of three unrelated women as they go through their lives, and this is where the smart and funny comes from. It's exceptionally witty and funny.
As a side note, one of the early vignettes includes a very minor bit of computer hacking; as an internet security consultant, I'm used to embarrassing depictions of technology (even ones that would have been easy to get right), but it was absolutely authentic. There's no way that Mike knows how well he got this right. F Larry Bird indeed read the book.
I didn't know it was coming—but should have—but partway through the novel we saw the introduction of cancer into the lives of these woman. As one who's been very, very close to a women with breast cancer (a former spouse), I was just a tad more in tune with this, but looking back I'm not sure it would have made any difference were my life to have been unafflicted with this curse on humanity.
This is the sensitive part, and it was done very, very well. It's not a sports novel, it's not a tech novel. I can't believe I'm writing this.
Unlike many "cause" books, this was utterly non-preachy, and I didn't even know it was a "cause" book until the cause made itself known, and even then it was still nothing but a really great book.
Mike has written other books, but the only one for Kindle (the wonderful Amazon e-reader) is Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad, which was also a wonderful bit of writing. It reminded me of Dave Barry, but for sports.
The only thing that was somewhat unnerving about "All You Could Ask For" was just how well Mike Greenberg captured the female voice (three of them). Either he is an astonishingly good writer, or he has the world's largest collection of shoes in his closet. For a man. Or both.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Read this book. Thank you Mike.