Book Review: Readings

John Albert


Wrecking Crew: The really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates

by John Albert

Scribner, 281 pp., $23

With the media attention lately focusing on Rafael Palmeiro's suspension for alleged steroid use and eccentric multimillionaire Manny Ramirez asking for a day off and to be traded from the reigning champs, it's easy to get distracted from the sheer beauty and slow drama that is the great game of baseball. The smell of the freshly shorn grass and the sweet sound of ball striking bat are all it takes to bring back fond memories of days spent playing Little League and scarfing down postgame pizza and Cokes. It is this love of the game that draws author and musician John Albert back after years of drug abuse and a few close calls with rock stardom. As co-founder of cult faves Christian Death and one of the drummers for punk legends Bad Religion, he tasted more success than most aspiring musicians ever do, but his dreams ended as most, with Albert forced to make a living outside the music biz. On the fringes of the Los Angeles movie industry, Albert manages to survive by writing and working on screenplays with fellow writer, business partner, and drug addict Teo. While his screenwriting career isn't necessarily blossoming, one of his ex-junkie friends decides to put together a baseball team following his latest go-round at sobriety and the slow dissolution of his major-label record deal, and he recruits Albert to help him fulfill this dream. The squad they assemble resembles a police lineup more than a team of ballplayers. Their heavily tattooed and syringe-scarred team includes Dave Navarro's cousin Johnny; Clay, an ex-member of the band Junkyard; and the cross-dressing Chris, to name a few. The title Wrecking Crew applies more to their lifelong bent toward self-destruction than their abilities between the lines. Though they do manage to win a few games, Albert dedicates most of his ink to their depressing yet enthralling drug habits, rehab stints, and deviant sexual behavior. But for one afternoon out of the week, they get to leave their troubles at home, and the thrill of playing baseball becomes as important to them as a No. 1 single, a bed full of models, and an armful of dope ever was.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Mark Fagan
Fall Concerts to Add to Your Calendar
Fall Concerts to Add to Your Calendar
Paul McCartney, the Jesus Lizard, and Saturnalia make the list

Sept. 4, 2018

ACL Fest Late Night Lineup Drops
ACL Fest Late Night Lineup Drops
St. Vincent, the Breeders, and Parquet Courts head the list

Aug. 21, 2018


Wrecking Crew, John Albert, Scribner

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle