Bonus panels in the 30-books, 30-days project

Before May officially strikes, we may have more baseball books for you to consider, even as we’ve done our best to give the top 30 we came across during the month of April:

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The book: “2009 Who’s Who in Baseball” (94th edition, byWho’s Who in Baseball Magazine, Co., $9.95, edited by Pete Palmer) is listed on Amazon.com. Kinda. The latest information says “Currently unavailable: We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Because it sells out so fast? Maybe. For those of us old enough to have grown up reading this as really the only pre-Internet resource of information when it came to anything MLB related for stats, bios, etc. Rather than us trying to explain it, here’s an Amazon.com review from Steven A. Peterson of Hershey, Penn., (born in Kewanee, Ill.: “I’ve been buying — and loving — these little volumes since the 1960s (I think I still have the 1964 book somewhere in my library). To get ready for the new baseball season, this jam-packed book of facts and figures is a great resource as you prepare to watch the games of the new year unfold. The concept is simple: list players with their batting and pitching statistics back to their first entry into professional baseball. The first entry is Bobby Abreu. 241 home runs, 1084 RBIs, .300 life time batting average. First played in the big leagues in 1997 (Houston). Last entry — Joel Zumaya (batters are first and pitchers second in the book). Lifetime record is 8-8 with a 2.76 ERA. One of my favorite juxtapositions. . . On pages 170-171, we have Frank Thomas, followed immediately by Jim Thome. Fascinating comparison. Thomas: 8199 at bats, 2468 hits, 495 doubles, 521 home runs, 1704 RBIs. Thome: 7344 at bats, 2048 hits, 397 doubles, 541 home runs, 1488 RBIs. And that’s part of the fun of this book. Comparing players, trying to develop your ratings of who are the best and who remain the rest. . . . So, if you enjoy baseball statistics and want the basics of who has done what with their careers, this is a portable and useful volume. Highly recommended!” One more quick review from Donald B. Harris of Williamsburg, Va.: “(It is) an unpretentious excellent source for any baseball lover … After searching around and buying nerdy books which were laden with statistics but had no humanity, I found this one. Handy size, easy to navigate. A great resource for any serious baseball fan.”

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The book: “A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez” by Selena Roberts (Harper Collins, 272 pages, $26.99): Set for release on May 12, but now moved up to this Monday, the “stalker” Roberts (according to A-Rod) had excerpts already used it as an explosive Sports Illustrated issue recently, and more of it came out in a New York Daily News story on Wednesday (linked here) — use of steroids as a member of the Yankees, and also as a teenager. From the book blurb on the jacket: “Rumoured to be on the verge of a personal and professional collapse so profound it would rate as one of the most dramatic falls in major league history. Through exhaustive reporting and interviews, Roberts will detail A-Rod as a plunge-in-progress, a once-in-a-generation baseball talent tortured by an internal struggle between the polished family man he wants to be and the unabashed hedonist he has become. The storyline will include his dalliances with strippers, infatuation with Madonna, details of his record-breaking $315-million contract, shady real estate empire and further evidence of steroid use, but will also tunnel deeper into his behavior. Roberts will reveal the root of Alex’s identity crisis – the night his father abandoned him – and, in so doing, answer the question: who is the real A-Rod?”

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The book: “Bert Sugar’s Baseball Hall of Fame: A Living History of America’s Greatest Game” by Bert Randolph Sugar (Running Press, 272 pages, $35). Due out in June, this one arrives in time for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 70th anniversary of its first induction class — it opened its doors on Monday, July 12, 1939. Since then it has had three major expansions, including a recent $20 million renovation. “To get a better sense of the Hall of Fame you would have to be in Cooperstown,” says Bob Costas in his endorsement quote.

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The book: “The Making of a Hitter” by Jack Perconte (forward by Mike Scioscia) (Second Base Publishing, 181 pages, $19.95): You remember Perconte, right (stats linked here)? A 16th-round draft choice by the Dodgers in ’76. Made the big leagues in ’80. Hit .231 in 22 games (32 at bats over two seasons) before he was traded to Cleveland, then Seattle, then the Chiago White Sox. Actually played a full season with the Mariners in 1984 and hit .294 with 180 hits (third in the AL with 152 singles), 29 stolen bases … OK, marginal at best. So why not start a hitting academy and then publish a book that teaches kids at different levels how to tan the horsehide. Well, the Jack Perconte Sports Academy in Naperville, Ill., is now the Centerfield Sports Academy (linked here), and Perconte has this book, with a rather scruffy photo of himself on the back page and throughout the publication, with the slogan: “Remember, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Perfect. He says in the intro: “Even though I was fortuante to have played in the major leagues for a few years it was surprising how little I really knew about the fundamentals until I began to teach … I did feel qualified to teach because at one time or another I did about everything wrong fundamentally as a hitter.” Isn’t that how it always works out? We don’t doubt Perconte’s intentions, but somehow this comes off as something Kenny Powers would do in “Eastbound & Down” for HBO. Without the cursing. Since, at the top of the cover, it says it’s by “Jack Perconte, former major leaguer.”

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The book: “Sweet Spot: 125 years of Baseball and the Louisville Slugger,” by David Magee and Philip Shirley (forward by Ken Griffey Jr.) (Triumph Books, 182 pages, $27.95). At a time when bats only make news when they break and nearly injury players on the field, this anniversary celebration of the biggest lumber company for the sport is filled with archived photos that you’d only find in the Hillerich and Bradsby Co.’s library. The history covered includes Babe Ruth and his R43 model, which he notched after each homer in 1927, the first bat crafted by Bud Hillerich for pro player Pete Browning in 1884, to bats used by Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter today. Transcripts of personal interviews by those who used the company’s bat include Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, Tony Gwynn, Mickey Mantle, Pee Wee Reese, Ted Williams, Robin Yount and George Brett. The “powerized’ factory and museum in Louisville, Ky., still attracts nearly a quarter million visitors a year, showing how the company started as a family business, built its tradition and faced the challenges posed by aluminum bats.

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The book: “No Girls In The Clubhouse: The Exclusion of Women from Baseball” by Marilyn Cohen (McFarland, 228 pages, $35), which looks at how women are still striking out in the world of baseball — from umps to commentators to … players. Even as the author, a professor of sociology and urban studies at Saint Peter’s College, reminds us of when teenaged girl Jackie Mitchell once struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition. Also read a review of this on Ron Kaplan’s website (linked here)

Also be on the lookout for: “Pull Up A Chair: The Vin Scully Story” by Curt Smith (due out at the end of this month; we have mention of it linked here) as well as “Vin Scully: I Saw It On the Radio,” a tribute book compiled by Rich Wolfe (Lone Wolfe Press), where 120 people — fellow broadcasters, players, fans, and others, ranging from John Wooden, Roger Owens, Eric Karros, Jon Miller, Dick Enberg, Ralph Branca and Yogi Berra, have something to say about how Scully impacted their life. The self-published book has been spotted in Ralphs supermarkets and has its own website (www.vinscullybook.com)

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It’s not Obama playing for the Lakers, but maybe the next best thing

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Paul Wellman/The Santa Barbara Independent
Senator Tony Strickland (in white) and goes up against Santa Barbara radio DJ Adam Lundquist in a one-on-one battle last month.

Tony Strickland once scored 47 points in a game when he was at Whitter College in 1992, a 6-foot-5 power forward who threw his weight around and had a good quick first step to go along with a nice outside jumper.

Then his career went another way.

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He’s now Califoria State Senator Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks), serving the 19th district and assistant minority leader. But he’ll make his pro basketball debut. Finally.

The Los Angeles Lightning of the International Basketball League (linked here) has Strickland on the roster for Saturday’s game at Gilbert Sports Arena on the Cal Lutheran campus for their 7 p.m. game against the Edmonton Energy. It’s the first two home games of the season for the Lightning, in their second year of existence.

On Strickland’s official website (linked here) there is plenty about his being vice president of GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC, which is trying to harness ocean water as a natural way to power the planet. This co-autored Senate Bill 619, which provides support for funding Santa Barbara County’s Lower Mission Creek flood control project, is rolling through the process. And his other endeavors in trying to find funding for vital programs like healthcare, education, and transportation by creating jobs.

But there’s nothing about his basketball ability.

The 39-year-old played at Whitter from 1990-92, averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds in two seasons. In his final home game with the Poets, he poured in 47 points and set a school record with 22 field goals.

Lightning owner Mark Harwell, a friend of Strickland, said he invited the legislator to play because of his ability, not as a publicity stunt.

“Tony’s a great athlete and will surprise a lot of people,” said Harwell. “He can still play and he can dunk. If this was a publicity stunt, we would have signed a 5-7 bald guy with a pot belly.”

Strickland says of his game: “I’m strong fundamentally and I just like to win. I’m very competitive. … I’m living a dream. I’m really excited and this a great opportunity to play with great basketball players who played in the NBA.”

The Lightning roster includes former NBA and college players such as Toby Bailey, Byron Russell and Lamond Murray.

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The Sacramento Bee

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A repeat 30-30 list … and no Canseco book on it?

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Just in case you’d like the whole list of reviews on one monster link —

Day 30: “Parables From The Diamond: Meditations for Men on Baseball & Life” by Phil Christopher and Glenn Dromgoole (linked here)

Day 29: “Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself” by Michael Shapiro (linked here)

Day 28: “Straw: Finding My Way” by Darryl Strawberry (with John Strausbaugh) (linked here)

Day 27: “After Many a Summer: The Passing of the Giants and Dodgers and a Golden Age in New York Baseball” by Robert E. Murphy (linked here)

Day 26: “Heart of the Game: Life, Death and Mercy in Minor League America” by S.L. Price (linked here)

Day 25: “George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire” by Peter Golenbock (linked here)

Day 24: “The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching and Life on the Mound” by Ron Darling (linked here)

Day 23: “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee” by Allen Barra (linked here)

Day 22: “It Was Never About the Babe: How the Boston Red Sox Overcame Decades of Mismanagement and Racism and Built a Dynasty” by Jerry M. Gutlon (linked here)

Day 21: “Tony LaRussa: Man on a Mission” by Bob Rains, forward by Joe Buck (linked here)

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Day 20: “The Rocket That Fell To Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality” by Jeff Pearlman (along with “American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime” By Teri Thompson, Nathaniel Vinton, Michael O’Keeffe, and Christian Red of the New York Daily News) (linked here)

Day 19: “The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pasttime” by Paul Dickson (as well as Dickson’s updated and third edition of “The Dickson Baseball Dictionary: The Revised, Expanded and Now-Definitive Work on the Language of Baseball”) (linked here)

Day 18: “Baseball Prospectus: The Essential Guide to the 2009 Baseball Season” edited by Steven Goldman, Nate Silver and Christina Kahrl, forward by Keith Olbermann (linked here)

Day 17: “Baseball and the Baby Boomer: A History, Commentary and Memoir” by Talmage Boston (linked here)

Day 16: “Catcher: How The Man behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero” by Peter Morris (linked here)

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Day 15: “This Day In Baseball: A Day-By-Day Record of the Events that Shaped the Game” by David Nemec and Scott Flatow and “Dodgers Journal: Year by Year & Day by Day with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers since 1884″ by John Snyder (linked here)

Day 14: “The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball’s Chosen Players” by Howard Megdal (linked here)

Day 13: “Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit” by Matt McCarthy (linked here)

Day 12: “100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Jon Weisman (linked here)

Day 11: “Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom” by Bob Feller (linked here)

Day 10: “Splinters” by Rex Hudler (linked here)

Day 9: “The Corporal Was a Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie” by Ira Berkow (linked here)

Day 8: “As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires” by Bruce Weber (linked here)

Day 7: “Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic” by Alyssa Milano and “Confessions of a She-Fan: The Course of True Love with the New York Yankees” by Jane Heller (linked here)

Day 6: “Dodgers Past & Present” by Steven Travers (linked here)

Day 5: “The Psycho 100: Baseball’s Most Outrageous Moments” by Steve “Psycho” Lyons (linked here)

Day 4: “Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger” by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg (authorized by Manny Raminez) (linked here)

Day 3: “The Yankee Years” by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (linked here)

Day 2: “Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O’Malley, Baseball’s Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles” by Michael D’Antonio (linked here)

Day 1: “Under The March Sun: The Story of Spring Training” by Charles Fountain (linked here)

Which one do you need for your reading room?

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Greed vs. Greed update: Who’s the NFL gonna call with that Comcast clock ticking down?

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The story that continues to be off our radar as much as possible, because it’s just another headache but some make it much bigger than it has to be:

From The Associated Press:

Without a last-minute agreement, the NFL Network might be unavailable on Comcast Corp.’s cable TV systems beginning Friday.

Comcast and the National Football League are in a court battle over Comcast’s decision to put the NFL-owned channel in a premium sports tier rather than in a lesser-priced service package that has more viewers.

The agreement under which Comcast carries the NFL Network was due to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday. Comcast said it would be willing to carry the channel under
the same terms while the litigation goes on, but the NFL hasn’t accepted the offer. NFL Network spokesman Dennis Johnson said the network is willing to talk. But without an agreement or extension, Comcast expected to pull the plug at midnight.

Continue reading

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Day 30: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Let’s keep this thing going

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The book: “Parables From The Diamond: Meditations for Men on Baseball & Life”

The authors: Phil Christopher and Glenn Dromgoole

How to find it: Bright Day Press, 108 pages, $9.95.

Where we’d go looking for it: Amazon has it (linked here).

The scoop: A search of book titles will turn up some that offer “Parables From” pop culture, nature, the “back side” … even the fishin’ hole series is pretty popular.

“Parables From The Diamond” is something you could read in one 20-minute sitting. But don’t. You won’t get the most out of it that way.

There are 50 short essays about something that happens in baseball, and how it parallels something in life. Maybe it’s best just to read one each day, think about it, learn from it, and move on to the next.

Some of these things may seem obvious, but they’re nothing you’ve really contemplated past a few minutes of pondering. Others are obvious, and they’ve never really occured to you.

The combination of Dromgoole (a journalist for more than 30 years) and Christopher (a Baptist minister and paster), both in Abilene, Texas, give each passage some great brevity and soul that get to the heart of the message quickly and effectively.

If there’s one book to end this series on — knowing that it will, in fact, stretch the series over another month — we pick this one.

One quick passage: From “A Broken Bat Still Has Value”

Kids today play with aluminum bats, but when we were kids the bats we used were wooden. Invariably, if used long enough, bats would break.

Instead of throwing them away, however, we would put them back together, glue the pieces back, maybe drive a nail to hold the pieces together, wrap them with duct tape and go on using the bat.

The bat may not have been as good as new, but it still had value to us. It could be used. It still had a purpose.

Sometimes, in fact, we pick up a broken bat someone else had discarded and took it home and carefully put the pieces back in place and were proud to have it as our own.

At times, our lives may feel like a broken bat. A marriage has spintered. The death of a spouse or a child or a parent has split our hearts in two. The loss of a job has made us feel worthless. A dream has been shattered.

Yet, like the bat, our lives can be put back together a piece at a time. We may be a bit fragile at first, but we still have value, we still have a purpose and a future. There is a lot of life left in us. We’re not ready for the trash heap.

Do you have a broken bat that still has some life left in it? How can you help someone else pick up the pieces and start again?

How it goes down in the scorebook: A keeper.

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Our Daily Dread: A subtle, but effective, Cinco de Mayo baseball promotion … if you con-scent

The Lake Elsinore Storm already offers a “Fat Tuesday” promotion each week — a $13 ticket allows the holder to “enjoy the All-U-Can Eat Belly Buster food specials.” Think Dodgers’ right-field pavilion, but much cheaper.

The trick is, of course, how much can the holder hold it in?

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Considering the upcoming Tuesday falls on Cinco de Mayo, the Padres’ Single-A affiliate has what you may consider to be an added bonus — The first 250 fans also receive free the Subtle Butt flatulence patch.

It is what you think it is.

“Made of activated carbon fabric, each disposable 3.25″ square shield is held onto the inside of underwear with two self-adhesive strips,” according to the information provided on the Storm’s website blog (linked here). “Subtle Butt effectively filters flatulence, absorbing and neutralizing its odor.”

“I am confident that this will help fans get through the Seventh-Inning Stench,” says Kim Leone Olenicoff, President of Irvine-based The Pond Inc., maker of Subtle Butt. “And I’m not only the President, but a satisfied customer.”

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Adds Storm assistant GM Allan Benavides: “This will really help people out. I know personally when I eat all that I can, I have problems with gas emissions.”

In all fairness, Subtle Butt is offered each Tuesday free to the first 250 who stream through the entrance gates. Otherwise, they run $9.95 for a package of five (find ‘em here)

So, by all means, gas up a Storm after a big Mexican lunch, if you need to. Oh, and you will need to.

This Tuesday’s opponent: Your Lancaster JetHawks. Need any more incentive to make the drive South to this Mistake by the Lake?

The Storm, by the way, is a team that once had a Scientologist Night a few years ago and gave away Tom Cruise bobble-chairs — yes, the Cruiser jumping off the sofa on the “Oprah” show:

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‘Hawks win, ‘Hawks win … KaBOOM … and a home run call to do

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The JetHawks’ 4-3 win in the bottom of the ninth this afternoon, securing two of the three games in the series against the talent-filled San Jose Giants (story linked here), sent the kids home much happier than they had been hours earlier when some, in line to use the restroom, had to listen to my play-by-play call in the third inning.

You get what you pay for in Single-A baseball. Sometimes, it’s Rookie League talent.

A quick review: The inning went somewhat quickly, but both teams scored in their half of the frame — the Giants, on a home run, so when the audio comes through (for those who missed it) they’ll get to hear what I believe is the most unique home run call ever made in the history of baseball broadcasting.

Not to brag or anything….

Unique. Not best. And not to give it all away, but it’s punctuated by the most trite phrase in all of sportscasting: “HOW DOOO YOU DO!”

Stay tuned. The experience will be documented — with audio clips and photos — in Friday’s editions.

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Day 29: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: We’re already in the bottom of the ninth … egads

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The book: “Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself”

The author: Michael Shapiro

How to find it: Henry Holt/Times Books, 320 pages, $25

Where we’d go looking for it: It’s on Amazon (linked here) and Barnes and Noble (linked here).

The scoop: We were intrigued by the content by a review of the book we saw from Allen Barra in the Daily News back in late March.

Barra wrote: “(The book) is based on a somewhat dubious premise, namely that half a century ago, major league baseball was on the verge of a crisis and that somehow this was exemplified by the almost yearly success of the New York Yankees.” Barra points out that the Yankees won only two World Series between 1954 and 1960, but were dominant to that point.

“Fortunately one doesn’t have to accept this theme to enjoy the book,” Barra adds.

Unfortunately, we waited this long, but still haven’t had the opportunty to read it. It’s not due in book stores until May and we have waited all month for a review copy, but none has arrived …

Shapiro, who did “The Last Good Season” about the Brooklyn Dodgers, goes into the life and times of Rickey, the Dodgers’ co-owner and general manager who was trying to start a third major league, the Continental League.

How it goes down in the scorebook: Incomplete. On our end. We apologize. But that happens in baseball. You don’t get a hit everytime up.

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More self promotion

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The JetHawks have issued a press release for those who need more info about my appearance as a play-by-play man on today’s broadcast (linked here).

The plan is to do color analysis on the second inning and then jump into play-by-play for the third, all thanks to the cooperation of Jeff Lasky, the true voice of the JetHawks, who gets paid the same whether I’m taking his calls away or not.

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