Molly Knight: ‘These Guys Were Just So Interesting’

Author and baseball writer Molly Knight dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Friday to discuss her new book, “The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse.”

The reviews, well, they’ve been excellent.

“When I wrote the book, I just assumed my mom was going to read it and a couple of my friends and maybe a couple of Dodger nerds,” Knight told Damon Amendolara and Jason La Canfora, who were filling in as hosts of The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I hoped it would sell well, but I wasn’t attached to any sort of outcome on that front because I know how random it is. Beautifully written books (can) sell four copies, but I’ve been blown away by the support.”

This was Knight’s first book, and she went through many things that first-time authors typically go through.

“I was definitely suffering from a crisis of confidence,” Knight said. “There were moments where I would be having a meltdown and I would just sit down. I had a notebook that I kept all my notes in and I would say, ‘Okay, I’m going to make a list of all the things in this book that if I were just a Dodger fan who didn’t know any of these guys, what would be interesting to me?’ And I came up with like 40 things. So then I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just focusing on writing for them and telling these people about their favorite team and then hopefully others will find that (interesting), too.’”

Knight is a Los Angeles native and lifelong Dodgers fan, but this is not a story about a fan’s love for her team. Rather, it is a book intended for a national audience. If “Moneyball” was about doing more with less, Knight’s book is about doing more with more.

“The access I had was incredible,” she said. “The book is not about me. It’s about them. And the second thing, these guys were just so interesting. You’re talking about a team that’s got Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet, Zack Greinke, the most interesting man in sports, Yasiel Puig, the most controversial and talked-about guy in sports, (and you’ve got) Don Mattingly managing the team. He’s obviously a legend and maybe the most popular player of that generation. Magic Johnson, the record sale, coming out of bankruptcy – it’s a baseball book, but it’s really about these people more than baseball, I think.”

That includes Greinke, who used to be extremely shy, aloof and socially awkward, especially early in his career in Kansas City. That, however, is no longer the case.

“Just talking to his friends, he has changed,” Knight said. “He’s changed for the better. He’s become more comfortable, I think. He’s just really kind of embraced who he is. I think a lot of people who are different – and I would lump myself into that group. For me, growing up and being obsessed with sports as a little girl, I felt weird sometimes. I was playing with my baseball cards. And I still liked other things girls liked – I had crushes on boys and all these things that my friends liked – but I was organizing my baseball cards. And I would try to hide that. I think there are things about his personality that maybe he just wasn’t as comfortable letting show.”

Lately, though, Greinke has let his hair grow out and attended Fan Fest.

Shoot, attended? He took selfies with fans.

“One of his former teammates texted me and was like, ‘Whoa, that’s amazing. He has changed so much. Good for him,’” Knight said. “That kind of thing, when he was in Kansas City, he would have just as soon jumped into a vat of acid than gone to a thing like (Fan Fest). I think the beautiful thing about Greinke is he will say what everybody else is thinking. It’s not like he just went rogue and decided he was going to remove Puig’s luggage from the bus (that night). Everybody was really tired of it and upset, and the bus couldn’t leave (because Puig) was looking for his shoes or something. They were exhausted and everyone was ready to go. Greinke just said, ‘I’m going to take this into my own hands.’ In a way, the team has needed more of that. They’ve needed more of that person to tell Puig when he’s acting immature. A lot of these problems wouldn’t have happened.”

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