So I didn’t know that Ring Lardner was a person. I knew that Ring Lardner Jr was a person because he famously wrote the novel and screenplay for Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H. So apparently this is his father, and for his time, he’s the more famous for it. This is a baseball novel, and I like baseball novels a lot. More so, I like baseball stories and especially baseball movies.
This is a series of letters written by a Bush League cum journeyman Big League pitcher who keeps getting shuffled around the country and from level to level and despite his overwhelming self-confidence and self-image, he’s on the constant move. The novel is written in a kind of Chicago/Mid-West vernacular and the title of the novel refers to the constant refrain our narrator says to his friend Al in the letters, referring to his well-known nature as a fighter, a lover, an arguer, and a guy that takes no guff from no one, not even Charles Comiskey.
What is great about this novel is the use of at the time current baseball figures, namely Ty Cobb, who is the narrators absolute bane in that he has his number as a pitcher, and Charles Comiskey, who represents the pinnacle of success in working for the team he most identifies as “making it”.
The novel is hokey and pretty funny and is mostly about the kinds of people you might expect to find in the weird days of itinerant baseball life. It drops off a lot toward the end, and I found myself very ready to be done with it by the time I was done.