The ’09 version: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April …

i-ddc2c9ed870e6fa4a9bca265e45db1a2-nelson_mighty_josh03.jpg

A year ago, we knocked out 30 recently-published baseball books in 30 days during the month of April as a way to get in shape for the major league baseball season (the whole list, linked here).

i-aaf6e20ca63882d45244799fbe69cdf9-mepic1.jpg

A lot of them are still available if you’re looking for a good read. And a lot of the books coming out this year may look like spin-offs of what’s been successful.

i-612fcc01795cf32b017a48ffd65ceb68-weisman.jpg

For example, our favorite book from a year ago, “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out” (linked here) has a rival for best baseball book of ’09 — a series called “100 Things (fill in the name of the team) Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.” The one based on the Dodgers, by Jon Weisman, comes out later in April (go to this link for more information and ordering).

It’s far from just rehashing things that have already been written about people, places and things. Weisman, who started the blog DodgerThoughts.com and was a former sports writer at the L.A. Daily News, includes fresh interviews, thoughtful essays, plenty of exploration of events and teams and plays and stadiums that you probably hadn’t even known about. We’ll circle back to this and get more into it later in the month after we’ve had more time to digest it.

Starting tomorrow, with reviews popping up about noontime, we’ll attack the month with a stack of books we’ve already started and hopefully can fill out as April eases on.

If you’ve come across some baseball books that have come out in recently — we’re looking at 2009 publication dates — gives us a heads up and we’ll cover it. Until then, relax and smell the fresh-cut printed pages of baseball.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Our Daily Dread: A ‘Hero’ culture breeds too many wannabes

i-96275779d55572cdc5c94f5a72345c1a-guitar_hero.jpg

And the new “Guitar Hero” appears to be ….

Bob Knight.

With his backup group: Coach K, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino.

Even funnier, The General havin’ some fun behind the scenes!

John Calpari apparently didn’t get to Kentucky quick enough.

Somewhere, Tom Cruise is saying: You’re so glib.

Once upon a time, our pop culture references were a little more organic, not thrust upon us for a quick laugh and “Hey, did you see that!”

Now, it’s an ESPN mini-series. At least Coach K understand where the parody came from …

We’re more impressed with some of the comments about this already posted on Deadspin.com, which say what we’re thinking better than we can at this moment:

Detective Bunk: A little heads up next time, Rick. Some of us are eating our dinner here.

Cowbell204: A green screen? You mean these four didn’t make this commercial together in the middle of the season?

Sculptor? I just met her!: whew. all i gotta say is, thank god for adblock

And sunblock.

Maybe that’s why we haven’t really seen it yet, except for these clips online.

If we’re the marketing campaign for Guitar Hero, we’ve just realized something: We have an outrageous bucket of money to throw out there. Kids must really be buying this. Why do we need to keep pushing it, then? Why don’t we just pocket this money and quit thinking we’re making some kind of cultural iconic statement with these commercials? It’s not like we’re selling Alka Seltzer and having some big fat guy say, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”

OK, we’ll look one more time at the one with Kobe, A-Rod, Tony Hawk and Michael Phelps – oh, right, seems that’s a little outdated now, isn’t it? A-Rod spent too much time posing in the mirror, and Phelps was off to the side hitting the bong. Leave it to Kobe to be the mature one of that group.

OK, we’ll look one more time at the one with Heidi Klum – the director’s cut (quickly sans red striped shirt):

OK, now who’s the hero around here?

We get it. The video game is popular, and the more it can be a pop culture ad, the more street cred it gathers.

When President Obama agrees to do this, with his family playing themselves in the background, then it will have officially, you know, jumped that shark thing…

Now, we need a boost of that G drink to get us going so we can get up to speed on “Celebrity Apprentice” and see how The Donald fired Dennis Rodman on the last episode. Oh, sorry to give away the ending.

Drool a comment all you want here or at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Did anyone get their $42.7 mil’s worth of Beckham last year?

i-213bf61a0896ff30db6e3755a4f593e4-3362064139_fc844301fb.jpg

According to the French magazine “France Football,” and hashed out on the SI.com website, David Beckham topped the list of the highest-earning soccer players in 2008 with $42.7 million.

It has nothing to do with whatever some may pay him in sire fees.

To break that down, Becks earns $6.5 million on the field per year, according to his Major League Soccer contract. But much of that figure this year will be paid by AC Milan, where the England international will be until the end of the Serie A season in May. He also gets a nice chunk of change from endorsement deals (adidas, Gillette, Pepsi) and a slide of the ticket and jersey sales by the Galaxy.

A look at the list:

1. David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy/AC Milan): $42.7 million
2. Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona): $37.7 million
3. Ronaldinho (AC Milan): $25.8 million
4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United): $24.1 million
5. Thierry Henry (FC Barcelona): $22.4 million
6. Kak (AC Milan): $19.9 million
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan): $19.9 million
8. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): $17.8 million
9. Frank Lampard (Chelsea): $17.1 million
10. John Terry (Chelsea): $15.4 million

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Our Daily Dread: The Accidental View to Tiger History

i-115c35c24005074542c7769d5e9d0b99-69796994ba5146b584057c1cdc7d2139.jpg

Somehow, I forgot to even check on Tiger Woods on Sunday afternoon.

Stupid me. That’s what happens when even the greatest golfer in the world somehow gets a little out of sight, out of mind.

Sure, I knew going into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando that Woods was five shots off the lead, behind … did it really matter? Maybe he’d make it interesting. He did enough just to hump back into it after an average first round and above average second performance.

Now, it’s about 4 o’clock, just after North Carolina finished off Oklahoma to finish off the Final Four. KCBS started its post-game chatfest. The guy with the hairplugs starts ranting about … that’s the cue to head somewhere else.

Over at ESPN, Digger Phelps was digging into his analysis when the scroll across the bottom of the screen had a “program alert” … Woods was actually leading the PGA event with two holes to go.

Impossible.

From then, Channel 4 was the place to sit and watch with amazement.

Just as Woods hit his tee shot at 17 into the mouth of a trap and appeared there was no way out for him to survive.

He, of course, did.

At the par 4, 18th, Woods, who’s now fallen back into a tie with Sean O’Hair, belts it down the middle. His second shot, as caddie Steve Williams called a “bleeder” thanks to the open mike that allowed to hear it, plopped it over the water and the rocks into a slice of green that seemed as if you couldn’t put it in a better spot if you were to hand deliver it.

Then, from 15-feet, 11-inches, “just a little slider to the right,” as Johnny Miller described it, Woods sank the put as the sun was sinking into darkness. At just before 8 p.m. on the East Coast, Tiger Woods was back in prime time, greeted by Palmer just off to the side.

“Are you kidding me!” a voice kept repeating off camera, audible to the home viewers. “Are you kidding me?!”

i-5519747e849f5e478dd998f44a9406f8-6482c9cafda848119f2e14d5bdf01feb.jpg

The flashbulbs, which flashed much brighter, lit up the scene like a summer ago when Rafael Nadal outlasted Roger Federer in the Wimbledon men’s final. The irises of the NBC cameras were already open wide, to let as much sunlight in as possible, making it seem as if there was plenty of time to go if there needed to be a playoff.

Tiger didn’t need one. He shut out the lights with a a 67. O’Hair finished his par put for a 73.

And Woods had his 66th career victory. And a statement that, in a couple of weeks, he’ll be ready for the Masters.

“He is the greatest pressure putter that’s ever played the game,” Miller said of Woods.

“It’s just sheer magic,” said Dan Hicks, noting that Woods’ last comeback from five strokes on the final round was in 2000.

A day earlier, in full sunlight, Woods couldn’t even find his ball before hitting his third shot at the 18th hole. Sunday, not many in the gallery could see it well, even though it was on the green.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

More on Dr. Stetson, Arthroscopic Medicine Man

i-1f3d3781f0b0c416630cf64566206240-image001-sm.jpg

The story today on Bill Stetson, the former USC volleyball All-American who has become Dr. William Stetson, arthropedic surgeon, goes far beyond what we tried to condense into a column (linked here). His latest visit to Cuba set for this coming week will include stops in three cities, starting in Havana, with the blessings of the U.S. government.

“We’ve had no problems, but they sure make us fill out a lot of paperwork with the Treasury Department,” said Stetson. “We have on our affidavit that we’re there for our medical work. That’s the only way we’re able to go. There’s nothing about a tourist visa. It’s very hard to get down there.”

== Stetson’s practice in Burbank (official site linked here) somehow got the official domain SportsMedicineDr.com, which shows you how bright he has to be in the first place to get someone to know him.

== From there, his non-profit organization “Operation Arthroscopy” (linked here) accepts donations all the time — mostly medical equipment that has not become so much outdated, but has been replaced by newer technology.

“Everyone here (in the U.S.) wants the latest and greatest equipment, so a lot of the stuff that works just fine and is first or second generation sits in garages or closets,” said Stetson. “Once I started asking around for it to be donated, I filled an entire garage with medical equipment.”

Some of it is easy enough to carry in a suitcase. Most is in the 20-to-30 pound range and needs to be shipped ahead.

== Here’s a story done on him back in 1998 when he first started going to Haiti: (linked here)

== Here’s the story on him in 2006 when he was honored with the NCAA Silver Anniversary award (linked here).

And if you happen to see Dr. Stetson before he leaves down, he’s the one hobbling around in the boot around his foot. He recently tore the calf above his Achilles.

Nothing athletic to boast about, though.

“I was coming out of a restaurant and there was a small curb I didn’t see,” he said. “I didn’t just tweek it, I turned (the ankle) over and …”

At least he didn’t do the surgery himself on it. But he knew a good place to go to get it done.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

It’s Lima Time again, now in Long Beach

i-5ebb1672adddc99d8bcdc4fde5d96243-melissa_lima2.jpg

Long Beach has such a forward-thinking recycling program going on. But it never seems to work.

Like the time when Dennis Rodman thought he could make another comeback, in 2003, and there was an ABA team that thought it would help him out. It was based in Long Beach (linked here). Called the Jam. It was right at the time he was taping that TV reality show, “The Mole.”

We’ve already remembered too much of that.

Now, it’s one-time Los Angeles singing sensation/Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima who has found a team that will take him. And, again, it’s Long Beach putting a tent on the circus.

The Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League announced Friday that the 36-year-old signed a player contract for the upcoming season. He will do more than sing for his supper. He’ll have to impress Garry Templeton that he’s less crazy than him.

“I’m excited to have Jose Lima pitching for us this year,” said Templeton, the Long Beach Armada manager. “His experience, skill, and leadership will be a great benefit to us. I’m glad that we have the opportunity to showcase his skills and give him the chance to rejoin a major league club.”

Lima’s career in the big leagues, as you may recall, started in Detroit in 1994 and included a 21-win season with Houston, a stop with the Dodgers in 2004, throwing for the Mets in 2006, then the Mexican League in 2007 and the Korean pro leagues in 2008.

Somehow, he didn’t make it into the Korean WBC rotation.

“It will be a lot of fun for our fans to experience the passion and joy that Jose brings to the game,” said Long Beach Armada GM Tony Soares. “We will definitely have special promotions and fan activities on the nights he pitches and give the Armada faithful lots of “Lima Time!”

The Armada (official site linked here) actually have an open tryout Saturday in Irvine (it costs $75, so don’t do it on a whim) leading into the May 21 season opener.

Somehow, the Orange County Flyers, and manager Gary Carter, took a pass on this. Oh, wait. The Flyers took a pass on Carter as well. Their skipper this season: Phil Nevin (team site here).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

More on sports and spirituality

i-bf90848720279a56d07b6f5e9bc27c6a-GolfersPrayer.jpg

When we attended this Religious Education Conference in Anaheim last month, inspired to write about the “Amazing Grace” of sports based on information we assmiliated from a Catholic thelogian’s point of view about sports and spirituality (story linked here, with a blog post linked here), we also ran into a priest from USC who wanted the session’s lecturer, Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, to contact him.

“I’d like to pass this onto Pete Carroll,” the priest said.

He also mentioned an upcoming “Sports and Spiritualty” night that the USC Catholic Center was going to sponsor.

That’s happening Wednesday, from the information we’ve found on the USC Catholic Trojan website (linked here).

Olympian John Naber, two-time Olympic silver medalist and USC alum who also works for ABC Sports, will moderate a panel that includes fellow Olympians Dwight Stones, Brian Goodell and Mark Crear to share their stories about “being in the zone”; virtues of sports; discipline – “forcing your body”; and praying and meditating before competition.

Sounds very uplifting.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The Media Learning Curve: March 20-27

Skating through some more media stuff we’ve learned along the way, mostly through Google searches, and without Dick Button’s analysis:

== “Gosh, we’re gonna say a prayer there …” and that would be USC volleyball director of operations Nikki Allen spiking herself in this TV interview (from Awfulannouncing.com):

== A new DirecTV deal with the NFL, who appease the cable companies by throwing them the Red Zone channel … plus the network games to start the ’09 season (linked here).

== Keith Olbermann , baseball nerd, now blogs for MLB Network (linked here). At least it’s a subject he knows about. He offered up this one recently after a trip to Glendale, Ariz.:

“It’s not like the Dodgers managed to turn the wind off as (Randy) Wolf shut down a Texas lineup that included Josh Hamilton on two hits over six (six strikeouts). The positioning of the otherwise splendid new park the Blue share with the White Sox appears to have been done in the dark. The sun will not let up on the batters; the batters’ eye in centerfield is about half standard size, and the Dodgers’ bullpen is uncovered and does not see shade until nearly sunset. The players have less of a chance of being grilled than do Dodger Dogs.”

== Bill Raftery ain’t such a weird guy (linked here and linked here).

== Write what you will about drinkin’ ‘n’ smokin’ ‘n’ partyin’ John Daly … as long as it’s true (linked here)

== How the “Dancing With The Stars” reality show almost got too real for one athlete (not Lawrence Taylor) (linked here)

== No wonder we haven’t seen any more blogs from Gilbert Arenas … he’s moved to a new arena, or at least out of one he considers could get him killed (linked here)

== The MLB Network has Thursday night games, to go with ESPN’s Monday and Wednesday games, and Fox’s Saturday games, and ESPN’s and TBS’ Sunday games, and then all the local games you’d see from the Dodgers and Angels on FSN West and Prime. (linked here) At least Tuesday’s are horsehide free. Maybe.

== If the Houston Chronicle didn’t cover sports in 1968, would anyone have known that the University of Houston beat UCLA at the Astrodome in that big game? (linked here)

== Find your favorite sports pub on your iPhone, fratboy (linked here)

== A boner by former KCOP Channel 13 (when they had a sportscast) sportscaster Michelle Bonner, calling A-Rod … well, see for yourself:

== Even you can spot the flaw in this ESPN “SportsCenter” graphic on Curt Schilling’s retirement quote (from Deadspin):

i-e713ea70685f30a02bcf20fe1121ddb9-schilling.jpg

A comment from someone named WhoWantsaWanstacheRide: “As an explanation, I’ll bet the next sportscenter commercial features the A’s mascot running the graphics department.”

== AND FINALLY:

== A bad audio connection, and pointing Tommy Lasorda into the setting sun at Dodger Stadium, makes for an awkward interview that sounds more like when you’re trying to talk to your grandfather on his birthday and he’s having trouble figuring out who’s on the phone:

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Beyond Scully, beyond baseball

i-9c08b5684a2960093b16286c15772069-05scully.1.600.jpg

A new program on the MLB Network, “This Is Beyond Baseball”, which are a 30-minute set of vignettes that feature current and former players tol discuss the role of baseball beyond the field, starts Sunday at 5 p.m. … win Vin Scully narrating.

The documentary-style program created by MLB Productions is about … heck, we’ll let Vin explain it:

“Baseball reaches us all in places far beyond the playing field,” said Scully in the MLB press release. “I am honored to lend my support to this endeavor and help celebrate the game I have loved for my entire life.”

Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr., Curtis Granderson, Derek Lee and Terry Francona, as well as a special profile of the Upton family – father Manny and sons B.J. and Justin – are included.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Our Daily Dread: Manny may be the new health tonic for L.A., or hazzardous to our well being

i-ea903ce66e23a023d70f0691d7eb7871-1-Manny Cover.jpg

The man on the newest cover of ESPN The Magazine looks happy. And healthy (it shows no hamstring wear and tear).

His smile is infectious. And that’s good for you.

We’ve come across this item on the Wall Street Journal (linked here) that both disturbs us, yet distinguises Southern California sports fan as not so laid back when it comes to how our local sports team affect our laid-back nature.

Here’s the theory:

L.A. has obsessed sports fans, apparently, who don’t know how to handle their rooting interest. We’ve become the guinea pigs for a study that’s cited here, going back to when this fine city had NFL teams in its perpherial vision.

The story says, in relation to how those can die from rooting too hard:

The latest evidence comes from a report showing that deaths, including heart-related deaths, increased in Los Angeles County during the two weeks following the 1980 Super Bowl. The underdog Los Angeles Rams lost that battle to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in which the lead changed seven times. By contrast, four years later, when the L.A. Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins by a lopsided score, deaths in L.A. fell.

Getting really emotionally involved in your team “can result in emotional stressors,” says Robert A. Kloner, director of research at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, and an expert in heart-attack triggers. “That isn’t always good for the heart.” Dr. Kloner is presenting the research this weekend at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Doc, you got our attention.

i-1b3d612eae5a6cf1ece903ff0bba2c0e-OB-DJ478_SPCOUN_NS_20090326232829.jpg

But now, how do we draw any conclusions from this? We’re not sure.

First … The NFL was actually in L.A.? My kids kid me about that.

Maybe it’s good that it hasn’t been around here for the last 15 years. We don’t have that unhealthy barometer around to keep us on the edge of our seats, or on the ledge of our office buildings.

This may apply closer to the rise and fall of the Dodgers and/or Lakers. The Dodgers’ fans — or any fan of baseball — seems to be more laid back, wouldn’t you say? A World Series celebration hasn’t been seen around here since 1981, so there’s no way to gauge evidence they cause harm to our bodies.

Last year’s trip to the NL Championship Series could have been a good test case. Did the city really fall into a depression after that loss to the Phillies? Maybe not, because it wasn’t a one-or-nothing proposition.

Same for the Lakers. In a series to the Celtics, there are times to inflate or deflate your blood pressure and accept victory or defeat at different levels.

A Super Bowl scenario makes a lot more sense on how to judge someone’s obsessive allegiance. You can’t really gauge it on a college football championship game, especially one involving USC in the last five years, because there are probably too many indifferent fans watching. Those who consider themselves “die-hards” are more likely to take a defeat in the NCAA title game to Texas personally, just as they celebrated victories over Michigan or Oklahoma as a euphoric tonics to keep life looking rosy.

It’s more food for thought, but that’s another issue. Don’t most people you know living in L.A. eat better than fans in other parts of the country? Obesity is a nation-wide problem, but we seem to be far more health conscious and that could contribute to whether we collapse into a La-Z-Boy with a heart attack or not, even after an episode of “American Idol.”

Meanwhile, we look forward to the days ahead when we can cram a Dodger Dog down our throat, chase it down with a high-calorie Coke and watch Man-Ham-Ram circle the bases without killing himself.

Let us know what you think here or at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email