I picked up Frank DeFord's The Entitled a few weeks ago on sale at Borders, and decided I'd read it now, during the season, rather than wait until next year or whatever. Kind of a lark, really.
Dang is this a good book. It's subtitled as "A Tale of Modern Baseball," and the cover blurb says it "ranks with the greatest sports novels ever written." "Sports novels" are not a genre I've read much of, although I did read The Natural in college. But I won't dispute the cover blurb, and the truth is, this is waaaay more than a baseball book.
I'll keep this review short because, really, I think you should read this. I think you should definitely pick this book up at the library or the bookstore and give it a week, because that's all it's going to take (heck, it took me barely a week and I've been reading at my slowest pace in years). It draws you in, and although the first half of it will appeal to any even casual baseball fan (DeFord knows the game, knows the players and the managers and not for a second do you ever doubt the veracity of Howie Traveler as the veteran manager or Jay Alcazar as the gifted star), by the time I was into the middle of the book I was so drawn to the characters the book could have been about professional housepainters and it wouldn't have mattered. This isn't just a great sports novel, it's a great novel, period, and the issues it raises are really far deeper than you'd ever expect.
The Entitled gets my highest recommendation.