Book Review: The Entitled by Frank Deford

Since baseball is so romantic, many have tried their hand at writing a novel on the subject. Perhaps Bernard Mulamud’s classic work The Natural, since turned into a movie, is the best known of baseball novels. However, after reading Frank Deford’s work The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball, this reviewer has a new favorite.

I would be remiss to acknowledge the book receives extra points from me because the main characters are employees of my favorite team, the Cleveland Indians, but if the book wasn’t any good, that wouldn’t matter. It is interesting to note that Deford actually started writing the book about the Red Sox in the early 2000s as he wanted a team that hadn’t won a World Series in some time. Shortly after starting the book, Boston won the Series in 2004. This led him to change the team of focus to the Chicago White Sox since their drought was significant as well. Low and behold, they won the Series. Thus, Deford’s luck seemed to be moving around. Alas, the Indians have yet to receive the same blessing as those two teams since Deford’s work was published in 2007, although they did come close both that year and in 2016.

The book really has three main characters, a star player who is an outfielder for the Indians, the manager of the Tribe who is in his first stint as a manager in the Bigs after spending decades as a coach on many levels, and the manager’s daughter.

The star player, named Jay Alcazar, is as successful with the ladies off of the field as he is with his skills on it. Unfortunately for his legacy, an event happens at his hotel room that leads those who witnessed it to think he may have forced a woman to unwillingly go to bed with him.

Further unfortunate is that the witness happens to be Alcazar’s manager, Howie Traveler, which leaves him in a difficult position of trying to make a choice he may regret regardless of the outcome. Traveler has to manage wanting the best for his team, the player, and the young lady who was in the room with him. Not wanting to make any false accusations, but wanting to do the right thing, Traveler cannot let the vision go until he has had many discussions with those close to him, including Alcazar.

Deford does a great job telling the story of Alcazar’s off the field issues, spliced with his relationship with his family in Cuba and his attempts to reunite members of his family, as well as still telling what is going on in the baseball world while all of this is happening.

Clear visions are created in the reader’s mind when flipping the pages of this 318 page work. One of the most vivid is a recounting of one of Alcazar’s adoring female fans whose love for him caused another crazed fan to rush the outfielder on the field during a game. The crazed fan threatened Alcazar’s life and the reader can clearly picture the scene and how Alcazar comes out of it alive.

Deford is best known for his decades of work on NPR as their go to sports voice. His monologues have educated legions of casual sports fans over the years as they have heard his takes during their news programs. The Entitled is an extremely entertaining page turner that will leave the reader wondering what will happen next. It’s one of those books that keeps the mind focused on it when you have to put it down bid story. He is the author of 18 books, most recently Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter which was published in 2012.

Baseball Reflections Rating: 5/5

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