Had Bill White‘s memorable call of Bucky Dent‘s iconic 1978 A.L. East playoff at-bat gone something like the above, followed by Dent making the out that his .243/.286/.317 slash line that season would suggest, and had the Red Sox won that game, and like the real-life Yankees, topped the Royals and Dodgers and ended their World Series drought at 60 years instead of 86, how different would the rivalry, the Sox fan base and the intervening years be?
That’s the premise of the new book Upon Further Review (Hatchette, 308 pp, $28.00), by Mike Pesca, with essays written by 30 other notable writers, each taking a “what if.” Some are more fantastical, taking us into an alternate universe where horse racing is still king or tug-of-war survived Olympic termination and thrived. Others look at specific moment in time that may have changed everything, like the US Women’s National Soccer Team losing the 1999 World Cup or Bobby Riggs topping Billie Jean King. Still others time-shift origins, like creating the sport of football today or transforming a cryogenically preserved Roger Bannister to today.
What they all have in common is the goal to look at these alternate realities in a larger context, and while readers may not agree with what each writer proposed as the results, most provoke at least some more thought.
Sports large and small (and one large and now small) are covered, with wide variety by a veritable whose who of essayists, with Pesca’s influence on the choices obvious. Guest and friends from his current “Gist” and former “Hang Up and Listen” podcasts abound, but the voices are disparate enough for varied tastes.