They Bled Blue by Jason Turbow

The World Series has been around since 1903. It has seen its fair share of excellence, weakness, and bizarreness. The 1981 Major League Baseball season was bizarre. The players’ strike squandered a month and half of the season. To compensate for the loss of games, everyone agreed to let the first-half division winners face the second-half winners which created the first division series in the MLB playoffs.

The 1981 season also saw the explosion known as Fernandomania. Fernando Valenzuela burst onto the scene with eight straight wins that included five complete game shutouts and a microscopic earned run average.

The 1981 season also saw the return of a great baseball rivalry: the Dodgers and the Yankees. Prior to 1981, the Dodgers had faced the Yankees in the World Series ten times, losing to them eight times. The last two losses occurring in 1977 and 1978.

They Bled Blue is the story and the stories within the story of the 1981 Dodgers. The main character is the incomparable Tommy Lasorda, manager of the Dodgers since 1976. The book is well researched and full of interesting and funny anecdotes. The author relies heavily on footnotes to share his more striking yet narrative adjacent tales. Though interesting, these sheer amount of footnotes became irritating. Almost every page requires you to stop reading, look down on the footnotes, and then look back up and figure out where you left off. This definitely made the book feel clunky and longer.

This is a good book. It is not filled with all the Dodgers stories and clichés a fan has heard over and over again. I also read this book during the COVID 19 outbreak that saw the postponement of the 2020 MLB season, so it will be very interesting how the MLB responds to another shortened season.