“A bunch of player started texting me and telling me, ‘you should write a book about this,’ because they were convinced they were going to win a championship,” she said. Armed with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and a lineup that was loaded from top to bottom, that belief wasn’t exactly naive, and so Knight began the process of doing her research.
There was just one problem — this supposed All-Star team wasn’t that good. About halfway through the 2013 season, the Dodgers had the fourth-worst record in baseball. For a team with a massive payroll, it was nothing short of a disaster.
“If I wanted to write a book on a train wreck, I would have written a book on the McCourts,” she joked. “But then they took off and went 42-8.”
In one of the most dominant stretches in Major League history, the Dodgers catapulted themselves to the second best record, giving Knight all the assurances she needed that this story was book-worthy.
While full of sensational anecdotes and plotlines that have been dissected and analyzed elsewhere, the part of Knight’s book that I enjoyed most was the insight you get into who the people are that made up the 2013 Dodgers.
One of Knight’s favorites is Greinke, the pitcher the media has seemingly labeled as “the dude with anxiety,” but whose profile throughout the book reveals just how simplistic that description has become.
“I felt as though Greinke was so miscast and misunderstood as this weirdo, creepy guy who has no friends,” Knight said. “Yeah he’s a weirdo, but he’s a weirdo in the best possible way. He’s himself and he doesn’t conform to what everyone else says and does.”
While many have misrepresented Greinke, Kershaw is the kind, loveable ace you’d expect him to be — except on game days.
“On the days he pitches, he’s a totally different person. He is a beast. He morphs into something else when the competitiveness and the intensity come out.” That profile is complete with stories of Kershaw blowing off Mark Walter (the team’s principal owner) in the dugout so not to mess up his rhythm, the time he spends staring at the wall and floor pregame (measured out to the minute) and many others.
Despite Greinke’s quirks and Kershaw’s dual-personality, however, the “star” of the book (if there were to be one) is none other than Yasiel Puig.
Over the past few weeks, as stories have begun to creep out, almost all of the headlines have seemed to surround Puig’s relationship with teammates. Whether it’s the story of a near-fight with Greinke or his general sense of apathy toward team rules, the stories referenced always seem to paint a portrait (once again) that is far more simplistic than the book as a whole presents.
“Puig as I know him is way more interesting than, ‘this guy is a bad person’ or ‘this guy is great and everyone is being unfair and he’s a good kid,’” Knight said. “I just think that he’s human and he’s complex and that’s what I tried to show.
“There’s no way I could tell the story about this team and Puig without telling this stuff, but at the same time, if people are buying my book thinking it’s going to be a Puig-slamming book, they’re going to be disappointed because I have a lot of empathy for what he has been through.”
No matter how much empathy you have, however, some of Puig’s issues are impossible to ignore, and while some give him a free pass because of ‘cultural differences,’ Knight isn’t buying it.
“It’s not like being Cuban is what makes him not show up on time or not work as hard or not pay attention during the games,” she said. “Sometimes he has his back to the play or he is Face-Timing girls in between innings. That’s not a lost in translation thing, that’s a Puig thing.”
In a fascinating weave of recent history and back-page gossip, Knight’s book takes fans where they’ve never been before — behind the scenes. Complete with hilarious stories such as, Greinke’s pregame speech to address washing hands after using the bathroom, and new information like Hanley Ramirez being afraid of needles, thus refusing to get a painkilling shot in the 2013 postseason and far more, Knight’s book is a fascinating read for any Dodger fan.
The book covers events ranging from the McCourt divorce to Opening Day 2015, and while the team didn’t find much success in October, as Knight describes it, at least you can’t say this group wasn’t exciting.
“The Best Team Money Can Buy” will be released July 14. For more information, visit MollyKnight.com.