"Midsummer Madness" is now available for download as the third e-book in the MLB.com PLAY BALL Books series. It celebrates the lore of the most traditional of All-Star Games and reveals what is on the mind of the two managers who are about to seek World Series home-field advantage when the 84th edition is played on July 16 at Citi Field.
Bruce Bochy will manage the National League and Jim Leyland will manage the American League, a byproduct of Bochy's Giants facing Leyland's Tigers in last year's Fall Classic, and both of them provided a foreword for "Midsummer Madness." Each skipper discusses the intensity of the game on the 10th anniversary of the rule that transformed this event, which historically runs in streaks and has seen three consecutive NL victories that were each followed by NL World Series titles (Giants, Cardinals and Giants).
"There's a little bit more pressure, but at the same time, there's a little better understanding among the players that there's a lot at stake," Bochy wrote. "Going out there and getting one at-bat or just making a token appearance -- that's over. As well as trying to get all the players in. You still want to get everybody involved, but the priority, which I think had gotten away from us, is back to winning the game. Because we as Giants know firsthand how important having the home-field advantage was in the 2010 World Series. I certainly appreciate what the NL did that year. I thank Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, who managed the NL All-Star team that year. I thank Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, who got the big hit in Anaheim. Because it helped put a ring on our finger.
"So when I managed the NL again in 2011 at Phoenix, I took responsibility -- 'Hey, we gotta do all we can to win this game.' So I felt good about defeating the AL in 2011 and seeing the Cardinals go on to win the World Series. You feel like you played a part in helping the NL win it that year. And you want to remind the players of that."
Leyland writes that one of his best memories was being the NL's third-base coach under Jim Fregosi in 1994, when he waved in Tony Gwynn with the winning run. He managed the NL in a losing cause in '98 the year after his Marlins won it all, and he managed the AL to victory in 2007 a year after his Tigers lost in the World Series. He said stress is part of the responsibility.
"You're managing the game for all the right reasons, but it's not the most fun game you're ever going to manage, because of all the pressure," Leyland writes. "I don't want to call it political pressure, but it's the pressure to get all the guys in, the pressure of worrying about hurting somebody else's pitcher. You're managing that game and a team's got a couple real good pitchers, and all of a sudden you put them in there because you had to. You were forced to put somebody in there, and they threw a pitch and hurt themselves or something. You think of all this, and it's not the most fun game to manage.
"I understand that they want to have the intensity of it, but I personally like the players to showcase their talents and try to get everybody in and make it. Now it is different. One of the things that I'm going to say in my brief meeting -- and I don't have much of a meeting, because this is the players' show -- but I am going to mention, 'You know, somebody in this meeting is going to go to the World Series. Some player in this room is going to go to the World Series. I don't know who it's going to be. It could be a Yankee. It could be a Royal. It could be an Oriole. It could be an Athletic. But somebody's going to go, so to have that home-field advantage, that's a nice piece to the puzzle.'"
MLB Advanced Media and Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, jointly produced the enhanced e-book, which is loaded with multimedia capabilities and available to download for just $3.99 on iPad, Kindle and Nook tablets. "Midsummer Madness" follows the release of "Fortitude: The Exemplary Life of Jackie Robinson" and "Defending the Title," which is the complete story of Bochy's 2012 Giants and a look at past MLB dynasties.
Naturally, there is a full chapter devoted to Stan Musial, who passed away on Jan. 19 at the age of 92. Two years ago, baseball fans responded to an all-time All-Star bracket contest at MLB.com by deciding that Musial's 1955 walk-off home run was the greatest moment in All-Star history. Many other moments included in that bracket are explored at length in this e-book, from Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse in 1970 to Ted Williams and a special chapter devoted to Legendary Players of the All-Star Game.
In "Midsummer Madness," read about Reggie Jackson's home run that hit the transformer on the roof at Tiger Stadium in 1971, and click to watch the actual footage. Use the clickable index of videos, and click the Major League logo to scroll through Cal Ripken's awards and honors when perusing Chapter 5 about the Iron Man's 2001 swan-song game in Seattle, where he was named the game's MVP.
The agreement between Ecco and MLBAM calls for the production of a new e-book at regular intervals throughout the baseball season and the offseason. MLB.com reporters and columnists will be authoring the e-books, and MLBAM is supplying video, stats and other production assets. Lyle Spencer wrote "Midsummer Madness" with contributions from MLB.com staff.
"It's about magic. It's about memories. It's about images that remain with us throughout our lives," Spencer writes.
Bochy reminds you of that in his foreword, when he tells a story about his days as a newspaper delivery boy in Falls Church, Va., trying to win a local contest for a free ticket to the 1969 game at RFK Stadium in Washington. You'll have to download the e-book to see if he won.
"I wanted to go to the game so badly that I was out there every day," Bochy wrote. "I must have knocked on 200 doors a night."