Opening Day Starting Nine

March 31, 2011

Today the book industry newsletter Shelf Awareness is running a little Q&A with me that includes a question about my top five authors that I expanded (following Charles Bukowski’s lead) into a starting nine. Here’s my opening day batting order:

1. Denis Johnson, SS (dazzling in the field; .297/.398/.412)
2. Anton Chekhov, 3B (always makes perfect contact; .313/.402/.498)
3. Jack Kerouac, CF (think Fred Lynn in ’75 but forever; .325/.413/.545)
4. J.D. Salinger, RF (glove has poems scribbled on it; .286/.374/.529)
5. Bruce Jay Friedman, 1B (hilarious infield chatter; .302/.397/.502)
6. Frederick Exley, LF (erratic and powerful; .264/.342/.512)
7. Charles Schulz, C (always there when you need him; .282/.367/.423)
8. Raymond Carver, 2B (key when things get rocky; .272/.372/.402)
9. Franz Kafka, P (baffling, overpowering stuff; 2.08 ERA)

What’s your starting nine?


For more of Me, if you can stand it, check out an interview today at the New Yorker book blog The Book Bench; a new music-tending interview at Rock Town Hall; and a new podcast conversation at Baseballisms.


  1. 1. Dr. Seuss, CF (Sparkplug, great table setter.)
    2. Virginia Woolf, 2B (Subtle, does “little things” well.)
    3. William Blake, CF (Covers gaps with mix of innocence and experience.)
    4. William Shakespeare, RF (The game’s premier 5-tool author.)
    5. Gunther Grass, LF (Deep-thinking deep threat.)
    6. Peter Guralnick, 3B (Well-traveled, clutch veteran with best walk-up music in the game.)
    7. Joyce Cary/Thomas Berger (platoon), RF (Line drive hitters with excellent intangibles.)
    8. Mikhail Bulgakov, SS (An underrated master of his craft.)
    9. Thomas Pynchon, P (Crafty southpaw.)

    Manager: James Joyce (Expert at conducting the games within the game.)

  2. Whoops – this is what I get from having James Joyce as manager: two rightfielders and no firstbaseman. Cary and Berger platoon at first; they’d be appropriately chatty with baserunners.

  3. Josh, it was a great surprise to see you (and an add for your book) featured in Shelf Awareness (especially I probably hit south of the Mendoza line when it comes to the percentage of issues that I read. Don’t know what inspired me to visit their site today).

    Anyway, here’s my lineup
    Douglas Adams, SS, maybe something of a light hitter in this lineup, but great on-base percentage
    William Goldman, CF, great range of fiction, non-fiction, and screenplay
    John Steinbeck, 3b, great batting average
    Homer, 1b The original heavy hitter has to bat cleanup
    John Dos Passos, LF, America trilogist has a right to be in the national pastime’s lineup
    Jane Austen, DH, she was never one to play the field
    F.Scott Fitzgerald, LF, line drive hitter
    John Fowles, 2b, scrappy infielder and (card?) collector
    W.P.Kinsella, C, clearly knows the game
    Thomas Hardy, veteran starter who can eat innings
    O.Henry, relief pitcher short (story) man known for his curveballs

    C.S. Lewis, Umpire, Someone with a strong sense of right and wrong to call balls and strikes

    Lastly, I like to think that somewhere in this franchise’s farm system, signed as an undrafted free agent, is a kid by the name of Josh Wilker, working his way up the chain.

  4. My lineup:
    1. Bill Simmons,2B, often will work count for a laugh
    2. Edgar Rice Burroughs,1B, Tarzan and Mars series’got me started reading
    3. David Halberstam,LF, hits hard to all fields
    4. Charles Dickens,C, Durable and dependable, rarely strikes out
    5. Ernest Hemingway,RF, hardnosed attitude tends to provoke brawls
    6. Stephen Ambrose,3B, steady hitter who sometimes makes errors
    7. John Updike,CF, glides effortlessly and makes all plays look easy
    8. Ted Kooser,SS, poet noted for his small ball approach to life
    9. Cormac McCarthy,P,wicked fast ball, likes to throw inside
    10. Long relief, S.A.Salvatore and Stephen King, dependable inning eaters
    11. Closer, Josh Wilker, lefty with one unhittable pitch-the screwball

  5. I’m in a hockey mood for some reason. Writers who have influenced me:

    1. Craig Calcaterra LW
    2. James Burke C
    3. Paul Arandt RW
    4. Bill Ryczek D
    5. Bill James D
    6. The Authors of the KJV of the Bible G

  6. Donald Hall manages a squad built on line drives, speed, and a flawless grasp of fundamentals.

    The batting order:
    RF – Michael Chabon (line drives, rifle arm, takes his walks)
    SS – Roberto Bolaño (a free swinger, great range, aggressive on the bases)
    3B – William Kennedy (not flashy, but does it all well; a switch-hitting Dwight Evans from Albany)
    1B – Charles Dickens (bats L, .300/.400/.500, flawless glovework at first; makes it look so easy many take him for granted)
    LF – Garry Wills (slow of foot, but tremendous power from the right side)
    DH – Dylan Thomas (even hungover, gets around on a fastball; has been known to dog it)
    C – John Le Carré (handler of pitchers par excellence; slowest guy on the team, but manages not to clog the bases after his many walks)
    2B – James Thurber (surprising pop for a little guy with thick glasses; looks clumsy, but lightning quick when turning double plays)
    CF – J.M. Coetzee (first S. African to make it big in MLB, whippet thin but strong; outstanding range and arm)

    SP – William Faulkner (changing speeds, hitting spots; rarely gets his fastball over 88 anymore)
    RP – Raymond Carver (blazing fastball, nasty slider; for a one inning stint, nobody’s better)

  7. I love this idea. I’ll share mine, a little late for opening day – I caught you on the baseball prospectus site.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and for some of them I included the players that I thought would be comparable:


    Slash stats might be even better!

  8. Going with super heroes in my batting order- can’t help my geeky self

    CF- Quicksilver- aging veteran who can still get to anything hit out there, steal you a base and beat out an infield hit- an aging Rickey Henderson

    3B Spiderman- agile- great sticky hands, has some pop- funny- Graig Nettles if you will

    1B Punisher- Reminds me of Ken Caminiti

    RF Thor- My Reggie Jackson like Diva- Perhaps one day, when he doesn’t hustle after a ball against Dr. Doom’s team I’ll replace him with Daredevil and we can fight in the dugout on national TV.

    C- Thing- an absolute rock wall behind the plate and can clobber the ball at times- Carlton Fisk-like

    LF- Silver Surfer- Perhaps the best all around athlete on the team. Swoops in to make unbelievable catches and hsits with cosmic power- Ken Griffey Jr. anyone?

    2B- Black Panther- Agile and a field leader. Not a guy you want to try to break up the dp by going in with spikes high. Will scratch and claw to achieve victory- Ken Oberkfell maybe?

    SS- The Beast- I wouldn’t have a more acrobatic double play combination and he is an incredibly smart player- Ozzie Smith backflips spring to mind

    DH or PH The Hulk- Boog Powell or Greg Luzinski pop up as comparisons.

    SP- Hawkeye- never misses his spots- Greg Maddux like

    RP- Human Torch- Fireballer coming out of the bullpen to throw smoke. Al Hrabosky used to get pretty fired up.

    Manager- Iron man- drunk genius inventing new lineups and tinkering with the pitching rotation…Sounds like every manager worth his salt to me

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