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Day 30 of new baseball book reviews in 2021: Go ahead and trip on your way out

“Moon Baseball Road Trips: The Complete Guide
to All the Ballparks, With Beer, Bites and Sights Nearby”

The author:
Timothy Malcolm

The publishing info:
Moon Travel
/Hatchette Books
712 pages
$27.99
Released May 4, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At The Last Book Store in L.A.
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

“100 Miles of Baseball: Fifty Games, One Summer”

The authors:
Dale Jacobs
Heidi LM Jacobs

The publishing info:
Bibloasis
368 pages
$18.95
Released March 30, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At The Last Book Store in L.A.
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

The review in 90 feet or less

There was once a plumber named Roy Riegel.

The New York Times picked up on it in 2017, and then NPR. It was about this New York Mets fan who had died in 2008 and left as his final wish for a friend to flush his ashes in every Major League Baseball public restroom while a game was going on.

It seemed appropriate to not only start the journey with the Mets, but also in Flushing, N.Y.

“I know people might think it’s weird, and if it were anyone else’s ashes, I’d agree,” said his friend, Tim MacDonald. “But for Roy, this is the perfect tribute to a plumber and a baseball fan and just a brilliant, wild guy.”

We never heard if this task flowed well to the end or if it somehow got clogged up somewhere between Kansas City and Arlington, Texas. Anyone have some verification?

We’ve reached the first day of summer, and what seems to be the last day of our annual book reviews. It started in early March and concludes here, as many of us are preparing for post-COVID, get-out-and-breathe-some-fresh-air road trips.

If baseball intersects somehow in those excursions, all the better.

A friend and I are planning to hit the road for the MLB’s Field of Dreams game in Iowa coming up in mid-August. The trip will include several side trips when there’s horsehide to be found.

If we were to start a game plan today and uphold a fan’s wishes, alive or deceased, to make a visit all 30 MLB parks, here might be some entertainment value in picking up Moon’s Baseball Road Trips guide.

In his own list of Top 10 Ballparks, Wrigley is first, with Dodger Stadium at No. 4. The Field of Dreams is among a list of “best baseball attractions” along with the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore.

It becomes a very basic “how to” book for those who’ve considered such trips, but considered trying to do all 30 parks is just too daunting. Instead, section it off and tackle it in pieces. He suggests a color-coded way dividing it up by way of the East Coast, Florida and the Southeast, The Great Lakes, Chicago and the Midwest, The Heartland and Texas, Arizona and the Rocky Mountains and, finally, the West Coast – from San Diego to Seattle in six stops over 1,300 miles that should take less than two weeks if done efficiently. He’s even got it laid out for a Day 1 to Day 11 scenario that fits in a tourist day in L.A. and alternates visiting Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium around that break.

His highlights of Dodger Stadium: “It’s hard not to see Dodger Stadium (1000 Vin Scully Ave.) and immediately wax poetic about how the game is supposed to look .. It’s a deceptively simple ballpark that looks absolutely perfect.” And this was before all the renovations to upgrade a center-field front porch and navigation access to all areas.”

And of Angel Stadium: “Dodger Stadium gets all the love, but Angel Stadium (2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim) is arguably the most influential ballpark in America. .. Anaheim was arguably the first example of an American city that grew exponentially because of tourism … Angel Stadium may not possess the classic, unvarnished beauty of Dodger Stadium, but it’s a nice park that long ago pointed the way forward for how baseball is experienced today.”

From there are mini-stops for what the best seats are to look for and purchase (you’ll bake on the first-base side at Dodger Stadium so maybe avoid it, and club level works best at the Big A, as does the lower view MVP level in sections 411-426), how to get there most effectively, what to expect for food, if there are stadium tours available, where to shop, where to stay if you’re out of town (yes, the Super 8 on Sunset is OK),  and then other sights to take in around the area, including recreation and hiking.

It’s best to pre-read this before taking any baseball-related trip, but take along as well as to not forget some of the finer nuances of where you end up.

As a bonus, there’s a two-sided pull-out map in the back – one side is a general map of the regions and stadiums to visualize, the other side is the checklist to make sure you’ve got to where you want to go and document it.

Meanwhile, in “100 Miles of Baseball,” the husband and wife team of Dale and Heidi Jacobs are itching to get out and see the baseball world. How will they accomplish it, based in Detroit, and seemingly losing some of their passion for the game?

As the title implies, the map out a way to spend the summer of 2018 hitting as many different live baseball experiences as possible. In providing a map just after the table of contents, they manage their 50 games in 26 ballparks, starting in Windsor, Ontario in Canada, directly east from Detroit.

The impetus is how baseball games with the Tigers sort of became a chore for them. They decided against renewing their 2017 season seats. What could they do instead?

The MLB visits would be minimal — Comerica Park in Detroit and Progressive Field in Cleveland. Most times, they found themselves at places like the Police Athletic League fields, minor league games with Lugnuts, college games, junior college games, secondary school games, amateur men’s leagues … whatever got in their sight-lines, even if they were still wearing mittens and gloves in late March to fight off the cold.

“I tried to maintain a connection to baseball that seemed to be slipping away,” Heidi writes in the prologue.

“As we traveled around Southwestern Ontario and eastern Michigan in the summer of 2017, I started to understand that baseball could still have a place in my life and in the life I shared with Heidi,” adds Dale.

Between March 30 and August 29, ’18, traveling more than 54,000 miles round trip and spending more than $11,000 in tickets, they saw their share of rain delays (Chapter 2), managed to hit three games in 24 hours (Chapter 3), the NCAA Division III regional tournament (Chapter 6), the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League (Chapter 13), the Under  21 Canadian Baseball Championship (Chapter 17), and even a match up of the Tecumseh Green Giants 35+ against the Tillsonburg Old Sox played at Oriole Park in Woodslee, Ontario off Country Road 46.

They are so immersed in the experience that, even while keeping a scorebook, they only know the final result was 6-4, but they aren’t sure who won.

With the idea of what would happen if the couple went to 50 games in a 100-mile radius in one summer, they came out of it even more muddled when the 2020 COVID shutdown occurred as they were finishing up the final edits.

They conclude, without giving away any spoiler alerts:

Baseball is about connecting – with people we’ve just met, people we’ll never meet again, people we know, people we love and miss. Above all, baseball, with its springtime opening, is about new beginnings, about possibility, about hope. Perhaps that’s what we miss and need the most right now.”

How it goes in the scorebook

Pretty trippy even without a GPS.

As neither are traditional baseball books that we’ve come across, both easy to manage paperbacks are interesting in their own right for how they can teach someone about the ways to approach a baseball-related journey.

“Baseball Road Trips” is more something you might expect to get at the Auto Club but with far more detail about what else there is to get to en route, going out of town, and then while you’re there. Few details are left to chance. Opinions/ratings are welcome.

“100 Miles of Baseball” allows for a mindful, stay-in-the-moment experience as the game, and life, unfolds. The Jacobs aren’t necessarily seeking information on how to get from place to place, but to be present and aware at each stop they pick. There is at times far more detail about what happens in the games — maybe some tighter editing would make it a better read, because not every play documented is essential to what we need to discover. But at the end of the day — or the end of 50 days — it is a somewhat predictable conclusion about the game’s impact on their existence. But sometimes, you just need that reinforced. Especially these days.

More to cover

*Some of the better travelogues we have in our personal collection are three key ones by Josh Pahigian for Lyons Press:
=  “The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip,” with Kevin O’Connell (2nd edition), 500 pages, 2012
= “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out,” (2nd edition), 238 pages, 2015
= “The Amazing Baseball Adventure: Ballpark Wonders from the Bushes to the Show,” 238 pages, 2017

*Also:
= “I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Road Trip Ever,” by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster, Grove Press, 348 pages, 2014
= “The Baseball Fan’s Bucket List: 162 Things You Must See, Do, Get & Experience Before You Die,” by Robert and Jenna Santelli, Running Press, 287 pages, 2010

*The Moon guides offer such diverse background and planning for those wishing to take on things such as take walking tours of major cities, a visit to national parks, camping and hiking trails; conquer a list of the 50 best road trips in the U.S., and even revisit U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

Day 29 of new baseball book reviews in 2021: What’s the real deal, or the fix for fiction can lead to friction

“Escape from Castro’s Cuba”

The author:
Tim Wendel

The publishing info:
University of Nebraska Press
270 pages
$19.95
Released March 1, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At L.A.’s The Last Book Store
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

“Big League Life”

The author:
Chip Scarinzi

The publishing info:
Rowe Publishing
244 pages
$16.95
Released March 30, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At L.A.’s The Last Book Store
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

“This Never Happened: The Mystery Behind
the Death of Christy Mathewson”

The author:
J.B. Manheim

The publishing info:
Summer Game Books
272 pages
$18.99
Released released April 28, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At L.A.’s The Last Book Store
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

The reviews in 90 feet or less

Here’s our angle when it comes to this fixation on fiction: It’s not real, it can be really compelling, or really gnarly. The end game: Is it entertaining enough to commit the time and brain room for it? It depends on your disposition, expectations and a higher tolerance for pain. Also, your trust in someone’s recommendation.

Starting with our fiction heroes: Robert Pirsig (“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence”), John Irving (“The World According to Garp,” “The Cider House Rules,” “A Prayer for Owen Meany”) and Harper Lee (“To Kill A Mockingbird”) would be at the top. With Francis Scott Key  Fitzgerald (“This Side of Paradise,’ “The Beautiful and Damned,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender Is the Night”) the best go-to author in any English Lit class for a lesson on how to get things done in a short lifespan.

The most current fiction read in our rotation is Paul Theroux’s “Under the Wave at Waimea,” which we jumped on after hearing him appear with Scott Simon on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and then reading a profile about him in the New York Times. He has a very cool space created for himself to create sentences and paragraphs (above).

Theroux focuses on Joe Sharkey, an aging North Shore surfer who, the Times says, resembles characters Theroux has gotten to know on the beaches near his home. Sharkey has lost a connection to current-day surfers, feeling forgotten. His life as it is connected to surfing is a simple existence.

Amidst this, Sharkey is driving one stormy day and hits, and kills, a homeless man by accident. He doesn’t know how to process how all the bad karma starts to follow him.

Theroux is said to have found surfing to be a metaphor for his own life, just wanting to write without interruption or distractions. And also wonder if people still remember the writer who put “The Mosquito Coast” on the map, as well as many other best sellers.

“I was once a hot shot, I was once the punk,” Theroux says in the story. “And anyone who has once been a punk, eventually you’re older, and you see the turning of the years as it is. We all feel it, every writer. They might deny it. But they do, they all feel it.”

Continue reading “Day 29 of new baseball book reviews in 2021: What’s the real deal, or the fix for fiction can lead to friction”

Day 28 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: A cheat sheet/check list as to who, what, how and why not try

“Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal
and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing”

The author:
Andrew Martino

The publishing info:
Doubleday Book
288 pages
$28
Released June 8, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At The Last Book Store in L.A.
At Eso Won Bookstore.com
At Diesel Bookstore.com
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

The review in 90 feet or less

However many fans were allowed into Dodger Stadium last May 21, eventually they weren’t going to go away feeling cheated.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Josh Reddick took his turn at the plate in the eighth inning against the Dodgers’ Blake Treinen, but Dodger fans could see past this new skin he was wearing. A one-time Dodger half-season rental in 2016 who never really endeared himself to the L.A. home base before going to Houston, Reddick might not have guessed there were only about 15,000 COVID-restricted fans in the facility when the chant started in the right field pavilion, and soon became pretty obvious for those watching on TV.

“Cheater … Cheater …”


Maybe they were prompted a few innings earlier, when Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle played a peppy version of the song, “I Saw The Sign,” when Reddick was coming to the plate.

No matter what you choose to be still angry about concerning the recent actions of the Astros — winners of the 2017 World Series over the Dodgers, losers in the 2018 ALCS to eventual World Champion Boston, losers in a seven-game 2019 World Series to Washington and nearly winning the 2020 ALCS which would have put them over Tampa Bay and into a World Series rematch in against the Dodgers in last year’s bizarre finish in Texas — you should know as much of the facts as possible.

Continue reading “Day 28 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: A cheat sheet/check list as to who, what, how and why not try”

Day 27 of 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: Ruppert Jones gets his head around the truth

“#NeverGiveUp: A Memoir of Baseball
& Traumatic Brain Injury”

The author:
Ruppert Jones
With Ryan Dempsey

The publishing info:
Self published
228 pages
$14.99
Released April 23, 2021

The links:
At Amazon.com

Caption for above photo:
Home plate umpire Rocky Roe calls the Angels’ Ruppert Jones safe after he slid past Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, tying the score in the bottom of the ninth in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS on Oct. 12 at Anaheim Stadium. Jones, running for Bob Boone, scored on Rob Wilfong’s single. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

The review in 90 feet or less

When Adam Ulrey was tasked in writing a 3,000 word piece on Ruppert Jones’ life and times for the Society For American Baseball Research’s BioProject, it began:

“If a movie of Ruppert Jones’ career were to be made, its title might be ‘What Could Have Been.’ This gifted five-tool player was beset by injuries throughout his career. He could hit with power to all fields and run like a gazelle. Jones called homers “accidents,” maintaining that he was at the plate to make contact and get base hits. He hit 147 accidents in his career. He came to Seattle from Kansas City after being the very first pick in the 1976 expansion draft. Jones was the first Mariner to be an All-Star, in 1977 and made the team again, this time for the National League, for the San Diego Padres in 1982. As a Mariner playing in front of small crowds, Jones heard the constant chants of his name: “ROOP! ROOP! ROOP!”

Hmmm … a movie ….

Opening scene: Overhead shot of Olympic Stadium in Montreal, with 59,000 in attendance, scene of the July 13, 1982 All-Star Game

Ruppert Jones voice over describes his season to that point with the San Diego Padres:

“Despite all my problems, I was playing great this season. The fans in San Diego really took a liking to me. They even had T-shirts made up with ‘Rupe’s Troops’ written on them. I was playing so well that I was selected to the National League All-Star team … The National League took pride in trying to beat the American League. All the National League players talked about was winning the game. Their attitude was infectious and when the game time arrived, I was ready to play.”

Cut to video clip of ABC’s coverage of the game:

Jones coming in as a pinch hitter leading off the bottom of the third inning. He hits the first pitch off Dennis Eckersley with a deep fly to right-center field that looks like a home run, slices off the wall and bounces high between Reggie Jackson and Fred Lynn, caroming sharply on the artificial turf back toward the infield. As Jackson chases down the ball, picking it up just before it reaches second baseman Bobby Grich, Jones steams into third base with a triple.

Two batters later, Pete Rose hits a fly ball to medium right-center field. Jackson makes the catch. Jones breaks for the plate to score and with a head-first slide gets his left hand in around a tag attempt by Carlton Fisk to score on the sacrifice fly, giving the National League a 3-0 lead.

The camera picks up Jones coming back to the dugout, getting a hug from National League Manager Tommy Lasorda as well as high fives from Gary Carter, Al Oliver, Steve Howe and Steve Sax.

ABC commentator Don Drysdale remarks: “It took the speed of Ruppert Jones to beat the tag because Reggie made one whale of a throw!”

Back to Jones’ resuming narration over the video:

“I thought Tommy might put me back into the game, but he didn’t. So, you know what I did instead? I went to the restroom and snorted cocaine.”

Ominous notes of a violin are heard over the narration as the game continues:

“To an outsider, I was completely out of control and reckless, which I was. But it’s easy to judge someone only by what we see on the outside. Rarely do we know what’s happening with a person on the inside. We all have something going on inside, and that’s important to consider before making judgements because that paints a clearer picture. But back then, even I didn’t understand what was going on inside. While I was in the restroom, the National League won the All-Star game, 4-1.”

Continue reading “Day 27 of 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: Ruppert Jones gets his head around the truth”

Day 26 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: They might be Giants — dodging myths and truths about how San Francisco became a big-league town

“Forty Years A Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham”

The author:
Steven Treder

The publishing info:
University of Nebraska Press
536 pages
$36.95
To be released June 1, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At The Last Book Store in L.A.
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

“The Giants and their City: Major League Baseball
in San Francisco: 1976-1992”

The author:
Lincoln A. Mitchell

The publishing info:
The Kent State University Press
272 pages
$29.95
Released March 2, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At Indiebound.org
At Bookshop.org
At Powells.com
At Vromans.com
At The Last Book Store in L.A.
At PagesABookstore.com
At Amazon.com
At BarnesAndNoble.com

The review in 90 feet or less

Sound the foghorn.

The Dodgers’ first weekend venture to San Francisco – and their oddly initial meet-and-greet with the rival Giants in 2021 – may be just enough to inspire a gregarious gaggle of Angelinos to take a premeditated, pre-Memorial Day journey up memory lane. Just to clear their heads and partake in some suitable chest thumping.

Go for it.

After all, considering the titles the Giants claimed in ’10, ’12 and ’14, and now sitting atop the NL West with a five-game win streak, Dodgers followers are apt to wave under their noses that whatever happened in ’20 meant something to someone.

The trip to the Phone Booth Sponsored Stadium adjacent to McCovey Cove is gorgeous. If you haven’t left by now, you’ve got time to venture somewhere off the 5 over to the 101. At least cut over at 152 West, through Gilroy and up to San Jose.

We are 63 seasons into this West Coast tete-a-tete. It historically began in New York, of course, as the borough of Manhattan’s elitist Giants faced the borough of Brooklyn’s blue-collar Dodgers in an April 18, 1884 exhibition game won by the Giants, 8-0. Their first game as professional franchises was Oct. 18, 1889 at the Polo Grounds — that would be the 1889 World Series, where the Giants prevailed, six games to three. The Giants once had an owner named Andrew Freedman. No relations to the Dodgers’ current president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman.

Continue reading “Day 26 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews in 2021: They might be Giants — dodging myths and truths about how San Francisco became a big-league town”