What do you do on the days that the Cardinals don’t play, or they get rained out? Or on cold winter days when you dream about spring? Why, read a book about the Cardinals, of course! There are two new books about the Cardinals that are well worth your time to read: The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time by Howard Megdal and Taking Flight : The St. Louis Cardinals and the Building of Baseball’s Best Franchise by Rob Rains. Click on the titles to find them on Amazon. Here’s a brief review of both books.
To fans of other teams, “the Cardinals Way” is a derogatory term. But this book explains how that term came to be. In this book, you will get a detailed overview as to how the Cardinals’ player development system came to be. You will learn all about George Kissell: his playing career, his coaching career, and his personal life. There is a detailed description of how Branch Rickey set up the minor league system. And you will learn how George Kissell made up the binder with all of his knowledge that became known as the Cardinal Way. In later chapters, you will read about how Bill DeWitt, Jr. came to merge the Cardinals Way with the sabermetrics system made famous in Moneyball. The Cardinals’ current advertising tagline, “Tradition Meets Today,” will make much more sense once you read this book. There are fascinating chapters about how the Cards’ foreign scouting process works and also about the draft. The book is a little dry in spots, but there is a lot of interesting details in this book. I’m usually a pretty fast reader, but it took me several days to read this book since there was so much in it.
Cardinals Way author Howard Megdal, along with Bill DeWitt, Jr. and John Mozeliak, will be interviewed by Dan McLaughlin of FOX Sports Midwest on April 29, 2016, at 2 PM. The panel discussion will be held in Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village. After the discussion, Mr. Megdal will sign books in the Authentics store at Ballpark Village until 5 PM. This should be a very informative session.
Rob Rains’ book shares some of the same subjects as Megdal’s book, but this book delves more into the Cards’ minor league system. Whitey Herzog wrote the forward to this book. The prologue to the book details how Branch Rickey founded the minor leagues and provides information about George Kissell. Several players speak about George’s influence on them. The first chapter details John Mozeliak’s career, and the next 28 chapters are about the Cardinals’ minor league players. Each chapter focuses on one minor league player. Rains wrote minimal narration and he allowed the players to tell their own stories. Two of the minor league players covered, Mitch Harris and Aledmys Diaz, are now on the major league squad. Xavier Scruggs was cut by the Cardinals, but he now plays for the Marlins. There are also two sets of full-color photos in this book. This is a lighter read than The Cardinal Way, but no less enjoyable. While reading this book, I have discovered some new young players to root for and I’m sure you will too.
Rob will be signing his book at several locations this spring. Here is the schedule: