Calling All Benchwarmers

May 19, 2016

basketball card frontHere are some things I must tell you:

  1. I wrote an encyclopedia of sports failure.
  2. It’s also a memoir and enabled me to process becoming a father, which has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and also caused me to lose my marbles.
  3. It’s called Benchwarmer.
  4. It makes a great gift for fathers; sports fans; fans of anecdotes about fellows who warmed the bench for forlornly inept northern New England NAIA basketball squads; aficionados of tales involving the ghostly facsimile of Calvin Schiraldi as some sort of oblique harbinger of encroaching insanity; nickname buffs who might be pleased by an inordinate amount of text given over to early NFL nonentity Walter “Sneeze” Achiu; or people who like things organized alphabetically.
  5. It’s available at book stores, theoretically, and also via the magic of online shopping.
  6. I had night terrors as a child.
  7. Sometimes I would halfway wake up and feel myself on the border of these night terrors. Usually this would be followed by the night terrors. But occasionally I was able to ward them off by reading copies of Sports Illustrated.
  8. Years later, Sports Illustrated said that my encyclopedia of failure was “funny, enchanting and lyrical. Painfully familiar.”
  9. Between now and Father’s Day, I will be giving a limited amount of free copies away, which I will sign and personalize to whatever extent you would enjoy such a magnificently generous service.
  10. I will not give them away arbitrarily, which would only support the disquieting notion that ours is a wholly random universe, bereft of the comfort of order, upon which all religions of the world are built.
  11. Instead, I will require that you follow one of two paths, which will be active routes to a copy of my book as long as supplies last:
    1. If you are perhaps a fan of my earlier book Cardboard Gods, you could express your appreciation in the form of an online review at this obscure website. There is some urban lore that fifty reviews of a book will put in motion secret inexorable processes on the website in question that will lift the book far above the infinite sea of luckless books with fewer than fifty reviews and thus catapult the author of said book to certain riches and fame beyond his wildest dreams. As of this writing, the book is on the cusp of this transcendent plateau with 49 reviews, most of them favorable, although there are also a couple of one-star stinkers that really hurt my feelings.
    2. If you would rather not enable this ethically dubious groveling for online reviews, you may also enter the running for a free book by trading me a story for it, specifically a story about sports failure. Please make it the worst sports failure you ever participated in, either as an athlete yourself or as a fan. I will send you a book and, if you’re willing, post your story on this site. If you prefer this route, please see my contact info in the sidebar of this site, right near the threatening words flung at me by Don Stanhouse.


  1. Alas, I have already given 5 star reviews to each. I will heartily agree that Benchwarmer is an excellent choice for a Father’s Day gift, even better than a Twirly Propeller or a cello.

  2. I was proud to be able to leave you your 50th review on Amazon. Thank you so much, and please keep writing!

  3. Oakland’s loss to KC in the Wild Card game wasn’t a worse failure than the loss to the Dodgers in the 88 WS, yet it was pretty darn bad from a failure perspective: https://cococrispafro.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/the-oakland-athletics-and-their-horrible-gag-job/

  4. jimmykc1: Thanks for all the support. It’s been huge.
    Paul: Yeehaw! 50!
    Gary: Thanks for sharing the very enjoyable autopsy of that complete collapse.

  5. Sorry I missed out on this, as I left my copy of Benchwarmer behind in a Cape Cod cabin–intentionally–last summer. Hopefully someone has found as much in it as I did.

    The last game I ever played in the Khoury League as a kid–my fifth season, as I remember it–ended very ignominiously. It was the playoffs, and our season was on the line. We were behind by a run, and the tying run was at first base. I laid down a bunt along the first base line, and managed to run into the ball as I was running toward first base. What’s worse, the runner was called back to first base for some reason, and the game ended when the batter after me was retired. I never batted in the Knoury League again.

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