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05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Yup, we’re sniffing out the NCAA women’s water polo championship.
Defending champion USC comes in as the No. 1 seed, having won it all last year in its home pool.
But you probably already know too much about this Trojans’ otherwise under-the-radar sports  program.
It’s marching forward without its esteemed head coach, fired in the wake of the nationwide admission scandal, and he’s already put his Rancho Palos Verdes house up for sale.
At this point, what would Aunt Becky pay to see her kid hoist a national championship trophy? Continue reading “05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom

9780190928186_p0_v1_s600x595The book:

“Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark”

The author: Alva Noe

 The publishing info: Oxford University Press, $21.95, 208 pages, released April 1.

The links: At the publisher’s website, at Amazon.com, at BarnesAndNoble.com, at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

Our attempt each year is begin or close the 30-day series of baseball book reviews with some really deep thinking.
Use your brain. See how it connects to your heart.
This fits perfect into our philosophy. How else can we put it?

In 2018, we led off with “Why Baseball Matters” by Susan Jacoby, and ended with “If God Invented Baseball” by poet E. Ethelbert Miller.
In 2014, it was Hal Bodley”s “How Baseball Explains America.” The year before, it’s “Baseball as a Road to God” by John Sexton.
We ended 2010 with “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative” by Bill Lewers, a dad who wanted to leave a document for his sons. A year earlier, the closer was “Parables from the Diamond: Meditations for Men on Baseball and Life” by Phil Christopher and Glenn Dromgogle.
(Apologies, but as we’ve recently learned, the reviews posted for those books above, except for 2018, have disappeared from the platform where they were posted. The platform, for that matter, was taken down by the original publisher. It’s too bad, really. Like a giant erase board, as if they didn’t exist in the first place. Let’s ponder that another day).

Noe, a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley, comes from the world of deep thinking, a contributor to the now defunct National Public Radio’s science blog “13.7: Cosmos and Culture” (www.npr.org/137) from 2010 to ’17. (At least they didn’t just tear the thing down and make it disappear. It’s still there. Thankfully.)

cosmos
These are the best of his posts — we trust an editor may have also helped select, because the writer often doesn’t know which is his “best” until someone else says so — as they pertain to a few specific areas of what he observes about baseball. He breaks it into five main themes: The beauty of a “boring” game, why we keep score, baseball as its own language, the game’s “cyborg” nature, and then his personal memories. For Noe, it comes in the context of being a kid growing up in Greenwich Village with two artists as parents who didn’t believe in having a TV, only a radio. Which made following Mets games in the 1970s a bit antiquated. But you had to use your imagination.

Continue reading “Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom”

Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal

91xnQMK4PKLThe book:

“When the Crowd Didn’t Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope”

The author:
Kevin Cowherd

The publishing info:
University of Nebraska Press, $27.95, 192 pages, released April 1

The links:
At the publisher’s website,  at Amazon.com,  at BarnesAndNoble.com,  at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

fae570f7b202c3d15e7001ce2bc43a3dThe New York Times Magazine recently had a cover story: “How an American city falls apart: The Tragedy of Baltimore.” The story’s research points out that since Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of the local police in 2015, violent crime “has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century.”
The story’s author, Baltimore native Alec MacGillis, writes: “Nearly four years after Freddie Gray’s death, the surge of crime has once again become the context of daily life in the city, as it was in the early 1990s. I have grown accustomed to scanning the briefs column in The Baltimore Sun in the morning for news of the latest homicides; to taking note of the location of the latest killings as I drive around town for my baseball coaching and volunteering obligations. In 2017, the church I attend started naming the victims of the violence on Sunday services and hanging a purple ribbon for each on a long cord outside. By the year’s end, the ribbons crowded for space, like shirts on a tenement clothesline.”

Four years ago today, the Baltimore Orioles played a home afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards. No one was allowed in to witness what became an 8-2 Orioles’ win.
There were no real winners.
For something that has its own Wikipedia entry, this is as tough forget as it is to remember. Continue reading “Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal”

04.29.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Who’s up for a little Vlad Guerrero Jr.?
He’s no so little anymore. The supersized son of the former Angels MVP headed into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer finally got a call-up from the Toronto Blue Jays last weekend, and the 20-year-old Montreal-born third baseman already has three hits in his first 12 at bats during a three game series in Oakland.
Funny thing, but Junior isn’t even the youngest player on the Blue Jays roster. Elvis Luciano (born Feb. 15, 2000) is the first MLB player born this century to make it to this level.
Luciano never pitched above the rookie leagues when the Blue Jays picked him in the December Rule 5 draft, off the Royals’ roster. He threw an inning-and-a-third of scoreless ball on his debut and has an ERA of 4.50 with eight strike outs and five runs in 10 innings over eight appearances.
Luciano may be the answer to a trivia question someday. Considering the first MLB player born in the 1900s – a 19-year-old John Cavanaugh who came up to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1919 — struck out against the New York Giants in his only at-bat and never played in another big-league game.
How this week plays out for the Angels (12-17, last in the AL West):
* vs. Toronto at Angel Stadium: Tuesday (Griffin Channing vs. Clay Buchholz), Wednesday (Felix Pena vs. Marcus Stroman) and Thursday (Tyler Skaggs vs. Aaron Sanchez) at 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West
* vs. Houston in Monterrey, Mexico: Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, (Trevor Cahill vs. Wade Miley), Sunday at 1:10 p.m., ESPN, Fox Sports West (Matt Harvey vs. Justin Verlander)
How the week plays out for the Dodgers (19-11, first in the NL West):
* At San Francisco: Monday (Kenta Maeda vs. Jeff Samardzija), Tuesday (Walker Buehler vs. Drew Pomeranz) and Wednesday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Madison Bumgarner) at 6:45 p.m., SportsNet LA
* At San Diego: Friday at 7:10 p.m. (Clayton Kershaw vs. Joey Lucchesi), Saturday at 5:40 p.m. (Rich Hill vs. Nick Margevicius), Sunday at 1:10 p.m. (Maeda vs. Chris Paddack), all on SportsNet LA

Also this week in college baseball:
* UCLA: At Pepperdine, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at Arizona State, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., all on Pac-12 Network
* USC: vs. Stanford at Dedeaux Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* Loyola Marymount: At Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. BYU at Page Stadium, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine: vs. UCLA at Malibu, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* UC Irvine: vs. Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Iowa, Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
* Long Beach State: vs. Loyola Marymount at Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Riverside at Blair Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge: vs. UC Santa Barbara at Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton: at UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Davis at Goodwin Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. Continue reading “04.29.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

Day 28 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: For the good of Allan Selig, and Pete Rose’s hunger for attention

71IUBdXKNnLThe book:

“For the Good of the Game: The Inside story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball”

The author:
Bud Selig with Phil Rogers

The publishing info:
William Morrow Books, $28.99, 336 pages, scheduled to be released July 9

The links:
The publishers website, Amazon.com;  at Barnes&Noble.com (with autographed versions available), at Powells.com.

The review in 90 feet or less

The guy who became the accidental MLB commissioner for 22 years, fumbled his way through the steroid era, had the 1994 World Series canceled on his watch, decided the All Star game winner would determine World Series home field and OK’d the use of replay — all after he strategically moved his own franchise from the American League to National League after snatching it away from Seattle back in 1970 — now has the Hatian-stiched balls to put out a book claiming he deserves some/more recognition for ushering the game into the modern age.
What do ushers get paid now a days? Not the severance package afforded to a retired MLB head man.
920x920To get things playfully started, Selig opens by admitting to his squeamish nature toward watching Barry Bonds establish a new career home run record on his watch.
“I know some people will forever link me with Barry Bonds. Some will say baseball’s failure to limit the impact of steroids of quicker is my failure. They may even call me the steroid commissioner. That’s okay, I guess. It’s not fair. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to understand it.”
(Now, please read this link).
Instead, he’d rather be remembered — perhaps revered — as getting baseball to have “the toughest steroid policy in sports.”Again, his words.
And on the business end of things:
“I inherited a fucking nightmare, if you’ll pardon both my language and my honesty. But give us some credit. We identified and corrected our problems. … I shutter to think where baseball would be if we hadn’t found a way to work together to make these deals. We literally might have been out of business. I’ll say that.”
So this is where we’re going, eh? Emphasizing the $1.2 billion in revenue in ’92, 13 years of financial growth, attendance records, 20 new ballparks opening and … dropping an F-bomb … Even Mr. Rodgers knows when and where that’s most impactful. Continue reading “Day 28 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: For the good of Allan Selig, and Pete Rose’s hunger for attention”

Day 27 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shake up the bushes, and echos, for stories hardly minor

91tSPUF2uqLThe book:

“Left on Base in the Bush Leagues: Legends, Near Greats and Unknowns in the Minors”

The author:
Gaylon H. White

The publishing info: Rowman & Littlefield, $36, 380 pages, to be released May 30

The links: The publishers website, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

Wes Parker remembers.
The former Dodgers first baseman grew up in Brentwood and had his pops take him over to Gilmore Field near Beverly and Fairfax to watch the Hollywood Stars play. Here’s a kid, experiencing the Pacific Coast League’s golden era of the 1940s and ’50s, rooting for Carlos Bernier, Frankie Kelleher and Chuck Stevens.

Gilmore_Aerial

Then one must wonder: We know Farmer’s Market and The Grove, and the CBS television studios exist there today. But what ever happened to the players?
“Players were not analyzed, dissected and interviewed to nearly the extent they are today,” Parker writes in this foreword, sentiments that could include how he was covered in his playing days at Dodger Stadium during the ‘60s and ‘70s, after going to USC.
“They played, then disappeared, returning to a mysterious life from which they came. They were like gods – majestic, young, supremely skilled, beautiful in those white uniforms with red-and-blue highlights, the exact same color and shade Superman wore.”
s-l1000 Bernier, in particular, was someone who Parker really wanted more closure, still disappointed the Stars franchise was forced to move to Salt Lake City in 1958 when the Dodgers arrived to claim the L.A. territory.
White has the answer.
It consumes Chapter 12, “Made for Hollywood.”
It’s quickly pointed out that while the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Bernier was known as “The Cuban Comet” for his speed, he was definitely a Puerto Rican much like his countryman, Roberto Clemente. Bernier was also a perfect draw for the Hollywood crowd because of his flare and hot temper.
The later led to a 34-game suspension – the end of the 1954 PCL season – when he hit umpire Chris Valenti in the face during an argument.
“BERNIER STRIKES UMP BEFORE THOUSANDS” screamed the L.A. Mirror.
“It probably cost Carlos another shot at the majors,” writes White. Continue reading “Day 27 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shake up the bushes, and echos, for stories hardly minor”

Day 26 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Cone isn’t just a YES man, and, no, he doesn’t gloss over that time in ’88 …

41M523FGBbLThe book:

“Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher”

The author:
David Cone with Jack Curry

The publishing info:
Grand Central Publishing (part of the Hachette Book Group), $28, 400 pages, due out May 14

The links:
At the publisher’s website, at Amazon.com, at BarnesAndNoble.com (signed copies available), at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

The original thought was to make this as a combo-item with “108 Stiches” by Ron Darling  – both were Mets teammates for a time in the late ’80s and both are now New York-local team broadcasters.
Cone even writes about a time in ’87 when he just came up with the Mets, and Darling took him to a men’s clothing store to teach him how to dress — blue blazer, find some slacks to match.
“That was a big deal,” Cone writes on page 116, ” and I appreciated how Darling guided me and taught me how to be a professional.”
But there were some things Darling couldn’t stop from happening in ’88.
The deeper we went into this Cone tome, it was worth extracting the time when Cone decided to reveal himself to the world. Knowing his impact on the outcome of the ’88 NLCS against the Dodgers, we didn’t want to just gloss over his part in L.A.-sports history for those who may not remember.
He gets right to it in Chapter 2, “When The Going Gets Tough.” Continue reading “Day 26 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Cone isn’t just a YES man, and, no, he doesn’t gloss over that time in ’88 …”