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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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Our Daily Dread: The Accidental View to Tiger History

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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?!”

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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.

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More on Dr. Stetson, Arthroscopic Medicine Man

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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.

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