Batter up There are several schools of baseball. One follows numbers, the statistics that drive the game and rivet baseball fans. Another dwells on nostalgia, a sense that things were better, purer in the "old days." Then there are those like Robert Benson, who take an almost spiritual approach, honoring the game as a precious legacy to be passed from one generation to the next.

In The Game: One Man, Nine Innings: A Love Affair With Baseball, Benson combines several perspectives: those of a writer, a father and, of course, a baseball fan. One can imagine accompanying the author to his game of choice, a rather ordinary minor league affair between the Iowa Cubs and the Nashville Sounds, as he sits back during the course of nine innings to ruminate on myriad topics. With writing that is both spare and reverential, Benson compares the plays of a game with the joys and sorrows of day-to-day living. He notes that "baseball is a game of routine things." In the minor league game he chronicles, "Of the fifty-one outs, only three or four of them came on great plays, or even above average plays." The Game will be categorized as a sports book, but like baseball itself, it's a metaphor for life. Sometimes you hit a home run; sometimes you make an error. As the game winds down, the author hopes his children will one day recall the important life lessons it offers: "I wish for them that they will remember that there will be days when the best that can be done is to move the runner . . . that even the best of us . . . strike out a fair amount."

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