There are times when books are on shelves within a month of the final out, in time to be stocking stuffers for the holidays. But in most cases, the better efforts take most of the offseason to be written and produced properly, which is the case with two books about the San Francisco Giants: "A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 Giants," by San Jose Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly and "Worth The Wait," a photo book documenting the Giants' season by photographer Brad Mangin and writer and Bay Area radio personality Brian Murphy."My publisher asked if I could do a book in 72 hours," said Baggarly. "I said, 'No, but I would really like to do something more than a quickie book.' It's one of those books that has a narrative. It's written with character arcs and drama and shows you the whole season, from beginning to end.
"I also wanted to do a book with context [about] where these guys came from, because they have a past, obviously, that came before 2010, and that's something that takes time to do."Mangin's experience was slightly different, though the goal and the timing were similar.
"The whole process was pretty quick for us, because our goal was always to have our book in the stores by April 1st," Mangin said. "It didn't make any sense to work so hard and not have it come out until June or July. The pictures were already done, of course, so Murph [and I] got together, and he came up with the outline of the book -- how we'd do the chapters, the layout, the demarcation points of the season, the seven chapters, four during the regular season and the three postseason series, along with creating the player profiles, which really made the book flow.""Staring at that blank computer screen, the envy I had for Brad was tremendous," Murphy said of his longtime friend. "The photos were already taken, and I kept saying to myself, 'Why can't I be a photographer whose work is already done?' To hit all the deadlines was exhilarating, and I kept using the mantra we developed, which was, 'There is no way we are not doing this book.' We are both lifelong Giants fans, Bay Area kids, and we both share season tickets. It was almost a gooey story about two little boys living out a childhood dream." The theme running through both books, whether it's through pictures or text, is the strong and quirky personalities that made up the 2010 Giants. "It was a band of misfits, that's what they really were," said Baggarly. "Even [some of] the guys who were sort of core guys -- Tim Lincecum has been a misfit all of his life. He's been told that no one takes him seriously until he steps on the baseball field and unleashes his fastball and makes hitters look silly, so he's been someone who goes against the grain or the mainstream of what a pitcher is supposed to look like. "Buster Posey, you'd think there was nothing misfit about him, but rookie catchers aren't supposed to show the acumen and leadership he was able to show, so there was something definitely different about him as well. They picked up parts as they rolled along and had that chemistry within the clubhouse, an accepting nature to integrate new personalities and new people. It didn't matter where you came from, what your history was, good reputation [or] bad reputation -- everybody really got on the same page. You really saw it in action. "I thought they were going to do something special when I heard [players] saying things like, 'I wanted to win more for the person next to me then I did for myself.' That's nothing you can fabricate and create. The Giants tried so hard to create chemistry during the Barry Bonds years, but it's something that has to happen organically. With this group, it did. People in San Francisco were waiting 53 years for a team like this one." For Murphy and Mangin, the goal was trying to squeeze as many photos as they could into their book that showed off the players' personalities and told the story of the season at the same time. "We worked closely with the Giants, and the book -- the photos and the writing -- had to represent the whole season and the whole team," said Mangin, who shoots regularly for Sports Illustrated and MLB Photos. "We needed pictures of all the guys who played, so there may be pictures in there that weren't incredibly spectacular pictures, but they are historical documents of guys who were part of this team in 2010. "So it's a mix of pictures like that and pictures I consider real special photos. Luckily, from Spring Training to the end of the World Series, I shot roughly 50 games, and most of the pictures I wanted in the book made it in the book. I fought and screamed and yelled about some pictures that were not originally in the book, but I guess, being a big pain ... I got them back into the book. As they say, 'The reader doesn't know what doesn't make it,' but I sure do." All three men expressed the hope that they captured the essence of the Giants and their magical 2010 season in their books. "I hope my book will be a great read for baseball fans, and not just Giants fans," said Baggarly of his 350-page volume. "Because there were so many improbable stories and improbable moments -- just a lot of great drama and some really interesting people, outside of being baseball players. So that's why I hope it appeals to people outside of Giants fans. Now, for people in San Francisco who cherished every game and every out, you'll have a perfect souvenir to refresh your memory and relive it." Murphy added: "One of the things I kept thinking about was [that] this thing is going to be around long after we're gone. I want people to be able to pull it down off the shelf 75 years from now, and say, 'This is how it happened; this is what it was like in the city of San Francisco when it happened.' I'm sure there will be more books written by then; I like that ours has the photos and text to recreate the moment." "Worth the Wait" can be purchased at the MLB.com Shop. "A Band of Misfits" is in bookstores now.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.