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NONICTION

MILE HIGH MADNESS: A Year With the Colorado Rockies by Bob Kravitz (Times Books/Random House: $22; 257 pp.) There’s this pitcher called Curtis Leskanic, plays for the Colorado Rockies. Shaves his legs and arms. Says the shaved legs make him feel “you know, liberated.” Says a shaved right arm adds 3 m.p.h. to his fastball. And there’s heavy-lidded ex-Angel Dante Bichette, whose otherworldly demeanor and “nice butt” draws hosts (hostesses?) of female fans to the right-filed seats. That’s it, character-wise. The rest of the Rockies are pretty bland, devoid of idiosyncrasy, which is odd in itself, since they are players--veterans, rookies, slugs--whom “other people did not want,” the very essence of eccentricity. Bob Kravitz chronicles the first year of this expansion baseball team in a competent but bloodless bio long on finance but short on zest. The team was a raging success in “the time zone that baseball forgot.” Considerably more ept than, say, the 1962 Mets (the Rox even had a batting champion, Andres Galarraga), they drew 4 1/2 million fans, a million more than the population of Colorado (the equivalent of the Dodgers’ drawing 35 million). Kravitz leaves the impression, though, that the team was widely liked , not loved as were those Mets, immortalized in Jimmy Breslin’s “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” Hey, Galarraga is no Marvelous Marv Throneberry; manager Don Baylor is no Casey Stengel; Kravitz is no Breslin.


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