Monday, September 20, 2010

Center Field by Robert Lipsyte

Robert Lipsyte is becoming quite the prolific creator of sports fiction. He has covered a variety of sports including racing with Yellow Flag and football with Raiders Night. In Center Field, Lipsyte takes on baseball from many angles.

Mike Semak loves playing Center Field more than anything and this is his year. Mike is ready to begin starting for the varsity and emulating his hero, New York Yankee Billy Budd. However, as a new student and great outfielder, Oscar Ramirez, joins the squad, things begin to quickly unravel. Mike's injured ankle is not healing quickly, he might lose his starting position and he loses his temper with another student that he pushes and injures at school.

In order to stay out of trouble, Coach Cody forces him to help the school's computer club. There he meets the contentious and athletic Kat, who makes him question his relationship with his baton twirling girlfriend. As his Coach directs Mike to spy on the club to find what they are really doing the intrigue begins.

There is actually more intriguing questions in this book than I could ever imagine. Was his altercation a set up? Is Oscar illegally in the country? Is the computer club trying to ruin the baseball team and his coach? Is his coach even who he says he is? And how is his father involved in all this?

Lipsyte tries to do too much here, but the baseball sequences are wonderfully written and there is not a slow part in this book. Among the morals investigated here are celebrity worship, parental involvement in sports and immigration issues. It is well worth the read to any fan of sports or mysteries and would especially be great for those who enjoy Carl Deuker or Mike Lupica.

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