A Wonderfully Engaging Perspective
By Larry Underwood on Apr 01, 2010
If you love baseball in its purest form, you'll love this book from Emma Span. I can't think of a better way for any fan of the game to get ready for a new season. I loved it. Span's series of essays on the wonderful quirkiness of this sport; from the game's lovable and not so lovable characters, to the wild and wacky fans from coast to coast, to the strange customs (like sausage races in Milwaukee) seen in some venues; Span has a whimiscal spin on it all. This is a most enjoyable journey for any fan of the game to savor.
a girl with a gift and a true baseball heart
By A. Marsh on Mar 30, 2010
As a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan, and as such a longtime hater of all things New York baseball, I am completely charmed by Emma Span and her love of the game. Emma is a gifted writer and I look forward to much more by her in the future. Her knowledge is deep, her anecdotes fun to read, and her brutal honesty about how the game has impacted her life made me smile and want to cry. I can only hope that she is given yet another opportunity to channel her passion into her day job again...even if it is in only in New York, where I likely wouldn't be a reader. In the meantime I highly recommend this, her first book, to everyone who has a love of the game.
Good Debut Book but has Some Flaws
By Bronx Book Nerd on Jun 09, 2010
This is a good debut book although the beginning was a little hard to get through as the author spends too much time convincing us that she is an awkward nerd. Span also writes with way too many parenthetical statements, too much cliché humor and unnecessary use of curse words. She could have used a lot more attention from an editor, as the parenthetical nature of her sentences leave one wondering at the end of the sentence what the sentence was about to begin with. (There is even one paragraph that opens with a parenthetical statement.) Span's big break comes when her mother's connection to the Village Voice lands her the job of sportswriter at that newspaper. This is a huge leap from writing blurbs for porno and other DVD's. Her account of her effort to fit in and do well as a novice female sportswriter in a male dominated world is sympathetic and engaging, and includes some interesting dope on New York sportswriters in general. There is a general sense, however, that Span is not sufficiently detached from her material, and at times sounds more like a snarky journalist on a gossip web site. Span's writing gains strength when she detaches more from her subjects, and gives us observations less tied to who she is than to the larger world around her. For example, her description of bits of Yankees history or her account of her visit to Milwaukee's stadium, are interesting and thoughtful. She also deserves a lot of credit for putting her Yankee fan status at risk as she commits the unforgivable sin of criticizing Derek Jeter. She mentions his questionable defensive skills, states that when interviewed he sounds like a press release and claims that he has not said anything interesting since 1997. She also notes that the famous ball toss play against the A's could be remembered as the "why didn't Jeremy Giambi slide" play. All of these observations and opinions are sacrilege in Yankeeland, yet she puts them out there unflinchingly. (She also writes too favorably about the Mets). In sum, this is a good debut book for a sportwriter with interesting inside info on the world of basbeall writers, humorous observations about baseball and other matters, but with some areas that could have been trimmed and spruced up.
By Mara R. Altman on Jun 18, 2010
I don't love baseball (except for the stadium-procured garlic fries), but I loved this book. Even though fans seem a little psychotic, it made me feel like I was missing out on something by not being one. Besides, Emma is absolutely hilarious.
By Martha on Apr 18, 2011
I read this a couple of years ago, and just downloaded it. It is about the best book I've read on baseball from the fan's view. Absolutely dead on and clever and hilarious. I LOVE the last line of the book, just before "about the author" - she is SO right, expressed my feelings completely - thanks Emma Span.
Span hits it out the park with 90%
By Cyrus Webb on Apr 27, 2010
Anyone who has been around me any length of time would tell you that I am not a sports fan, but I have found the lives of those who are to be fascinating as it almost creates a family within itself. I think books like Emma Span's 90% of the Game is Half Mental is a perfect example of how a game can not only bring people together, but break the ice and create a common ground that might not otherwise exist. There is quite a bit of humor in the book, but there are serious topics discussed as well. One of them goes to the issue of sexism and if women need to be "talked down to" when it comes to understanding sports. Emma addresses this in a way that it doesn't take away from the story, but adds another layer to it. Congrats, Emma, on a fun read. I'll be sharing it with sports lovers and book lovers alike.
What a Delight
By Christopher Soderstrom on Jun 18, 2010
I got the Kindle sample, was instantly hooked, and devoured the rest in one sitting. Hard to imagine any baseball fan who likes reading not loving this book.
By John Durkee on Feb 28, 2013
Blogger Span collects short pieces previously written into 90% of the Game Is Half Mental.... Her aim, as stated by her publisher is to describe what it means to be a baseball fan through these short pieces written on different experiences around baseball. I think she only partially succeeds in that task. I found this book, at least the first half of it, to be a litany of her preferences about life and how she obtained them. The game of baseball is her canvas on which she illustrates those preferences. That would be a great idea were Ms. Span not such an uninteresting (by her own admission) person. In other words, in this portion of this short work, I learned more about Ms. Span than I wanted to know. But, what I did learn was that Ms. Span has a good touch with the English language. Her work is pleasant to read even if the subject in sometimes uninteresting. But, in the last five or so short pieces, the book comes alive with the sprit of what it means to be a baseball fan. She travels to Taiwan to understand and experience first-hand the depth of commitment to being a baseball fan that citizens of that small country are touted as having. In another piece she takes on the sabermetric baseball fan in an effort to learn what makes them tick without understand the math upon which their understanding of baseball is founded. These are good pieces - more about baseball fans, and less about one person. Two stars for the work and an extra one for quality of the writing.