KABC-AM 790′s Josh Suchon played the clip during the break between the Dodgers-Mets doubleheader Tuesday afternoon — the one where Dodgers GM Ned Colletti joined the station’s morning host, Peter Tilden, for their weekly conversation.
Colletti started on the fact that the Dodgers were struggling:
“Some guys, I guess, think that they’re better than they are. And they think that the opposition is just going to roll over and get beat by them. That obviously doesn’t happen. We’ve lost two out of three to Cincinnati, two out of three to Washington, two out of three to Pittsburgh. All three of those teams – no offense to those three teams – we’re better than they are. We should be winning those games. And when we don’t do it, you know what, it’s utterly frustrating.”
Tilden then asked why it seemed as fans calling into recent “DodgerTalk” shows were particularily hard on center fielder Matt Kemp, the Rihanna-dating, GQ magazine modeling star who won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger last season, but whose fielding and base running has, as usual, been suspect.
Does it have anything to do with Kemp’s new two-year, $10.95 million contract?
“Why is it? Because he got a new deal? Can’t tell you. But you know, it’s below-average. If this is the last day of the season and people are voting for the Gold Glove, his name is not even on the ballot. It’s a shame that he would go from where he was a year ago to revert back to when the ball goes up in the air and you’re not sure where it’s going, or if it’s going to get caught.”
Now show the kids how you use two hands to make a grab, Matt.
Suchon said this morning that he and co-host Ken Levine discussed this story “heavily” on Tuesday night’s “DodgerTalk” after the second game loss, but “to be honest, I think most L.A. fans had given up on the Dodgers by that point in the night and turned their attention to the Lakers game. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people want to discuss it today, after they’ve read about it.”
The pitch: Pedro Guerrero, Adrian Beltre and Alfredo Griffin. Rico Carty, Joaquin Andjuar and Rafael Ramirez. George Bell, Julio Franco and Juan Samuel. Mariano Duncan, Jose Offerman and Guillermo Mota.
And Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano.
Seventy nine players have emerged from this tiny town in the Dominican Republic to play in the U.S. major leagues, several familiar to Dodgers fans who recall how Vin Scully still says the city’s name like some song lyric whenever he sees it next to someone’s bio.
The first was Samuel Amando, a shortstop who played with the Milwaukee Braves and New York Mets in the early ’60s. Carty was the most famous, until Sosa came along. Cano, the son of another big-league ballplayer from the city, could be the next big thing as the Yankees’ hot-hitting second baseman.
How has this pipeline been established? Jose Cano, Robinson’s dad, says in the book: “Because we don’t have anything else here and we aren’t tall enough for basketball.”
Kurlansky, writing his first sports book after several historial tomes on such thing as the evolution of cod fish, salt and oysters (seriously), did a piece on this fabled connection between the Dominican and the U.S. for Parade magazine in 2007, “and the magazine received more than 100 leters from readers,” he writes in this book. “Most complained there were too many foreigners, too many Latins, or too many Dominicans in (U.S.) baseball … must of the criticism comes from African Americans.”
Those who also think that they’ve been outsourced in trying to get high-paying roster spots in the big-leagues.
With Kurlansky’s expertise in life in the Carribean, he traces the history of the country, and this tiny former fishing village that now specializes in sugar cane, all the way back to Columbus, Sir Frances Drake and Napoleon staked their claim.
While Ozzie Virgil was the first Dominican to make it to the U.S. major leagues in 1956, Kurlansky finds that the first accepted date of baseball in the country was 1886, introduced by Cuban sugar makers.
But while baseball players may be the region’s biggest export — one of every six Dominican players in the pros are from San Pedro de Marcoris — this is really about how the culture hasn’t changed much despite its success. It’s one of poverty and survival, colonialization and ethnic diversity.
As the city’s major Tony Echavaria says: “Baseball gives an activity to the poorest children and it changes their lives and the lives of their families.”
But there’s the flip side of that — mostly with how a player like Sosa is depicted as not really giving back as much as he claims to have during his days of multi-million riches. Kurlansky writes that as Sosa has found out, “no matter how rich you are, you are even richer in the minds of the poor, and he was constantly criticized for not giving enough” — even by his grandmother, who lives in the city in a three-story cinderblock house who continues to ask for money to survive.
Still, Kurlansky points out with some irony, Sosa may be the only person in the world who has a shopping center named after one of his statistics.
The other dark side of this town is trying to get out from under the suspicion of steroid use by its players. Kurlansky writes that the most easily obtained steroids are ones designed to be used by vets on animals, primarily horses. With Sosa’s association to the region, it is further tainted.
How it goes down in the scorebook: As long as the children there snap off brances of sugar cane to use as a baseball bat, wacking rocks around on the street, San Pedro de Macoris will continue to be a destination spot for professional talent.
The MLB estimates it has spent more than $14 million on 30 academies in the area, leading to 2,100 jobs. It also guesses that more than $200 million a year goes back to the citizens some how from the players who came from there — but you’d never know it by seeing how its used. This is not a travel guide to lure you into visiting San Pedro de Marcoris, but more of a human guide to connect readers more to the region and culture, a better understanding about the lack of choices these people have to make a better life for themselves.
And another reason to rend the DVD “Sugar” to see a dramatization about how once a player does leave the island and come to America, how tough it is to adjust.
The pitch: Because of the effort Hirsch took in just getting Mays to agree to this book — and he documents well here in the the final chapter — this was worth our effort to plow through the 600-plus pages and do this one right.
The persistence of Hirsch, who also wrote “Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter,” allows Mays’ story get told in total — starting with his young, unmarried parent’s discovery that they were having him (she was 16, he was 19), raised mostly by his aunt, with his father’s guidance into sports … all the way to his mentoring of Barry Bonds and consulting with him on how to handle his steroid issues.
There is plenty of paragraph worship in Hirsch’s prose — which is how most of America has also embraced the Mays’ legacy. So that can’t be so much denied. Still, included are lesser investigation into Mays’ darker sides, addressing the public attacks made on him by Jackie Robinson in the 1960s for his lack of political activism, his probable use of amphetamines as a player, his often brisque demeanor around people.
Because the book is authorized by Mays, there seems to be a little holding back, so as to not worry that he would shut down the project. In a way, it would almost be better if Hirsch had the same approach to this as David Maraniss had with his 2006 classic “Clemente” — without the player around, there’s more freedom to dig into darker matters.
The seventh edition of ESPN’s X Games in the Los Angeles area will expand to the Nokia Theatre and the Coliseum, making the event entirely in the downtown area from July 29 to August 1, the network announced today.
The Coliseum will be home to the Moto X Freestyle, Super X, Rally Car Racing, BMX Big Air, Skateboarding Big Air and Skateboarding Big Air Rail Jam. Most of those had been at the AEG-owned Home Depot Center in Carson for the last several years.
Those who remember Mickey Thompson Off-Road and Motocross events at the Coliseum back in the 1980s may have some flashbacks.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have the X Games back at the Coliseum,” said Pat Lynch, general manager for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum & Sports Arena. “As the original home to the precursor of the X Games, the original motocross, we truly appreciate and love showcasing this world-class action sports event.”
X Games 16 is scheduled for 31 hours of live programming on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and online at ESPN3.com (none, apparently, on ABC?) in high def.
“It has been seven years since we first had X Games events at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and ESPN couldn’t be more thrilled to be returning this year with several of our sports,” said Jack Wienert, ESPN executive director, X Games Event Management. “As the X Games franchise continues to grow, we are proud and excited about our continued great relationship with AEG as we expand our presence this year downtown at Staples Center and L.A. LIVE.”
Staples Center will continue to host Moto X Speed & Style, Step Up, Best Whip and Best Trick. L.A. Live will have the BMX and Skateboard Park and Street; the Nokia Theatre will now have the BMX Vert as well as the Skateboard Vert and Vert Best Trick.
From this weekend’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (linked here):
Police said a South Fayette man bludgeoned and stabbed his wife to death, then torched their house early Friday after they argued about him staying up late to watch the Penguins playoff hockey game.
Robert Dennis Abrams, 40, told detectives he pulled a hammer from their bedside table and struck his wife, Jeanette, several times in the head during a fight over “financial matters and his unemployment.”
When she continued to yell and curse at him, he said, he grabbed a knife from a dresser drawer and stabbed her in the chest.
Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt, whose homicide detectives investigated the case, offered few glimpses into what he called a “domestic argument,” but he said Mrs. Abrams was upset that her husband was still watching the triple-overtime Penguins’ game late into the night.
The news this weekend (linked here) that 16-year-old Thousand Oaks resident Abby Sunderland’s attempt to sail around the world non-stop – which could have made her the youngest to do so — has ended because of repairs needed on her boat in South Africa can be viewed as disappointing.
But it doesn’t mean the journey is finished.
Since she has to port for repairs on her autopilot, the “non-stop” modifier part of this is obviously over. She also stopped several days after her initial launch three months ago in Mexico for repairs, but restarted and had intentions of ending the trip there as well.
“It would be foolish and irresponsible for me to keep going with my equipment not working well,” she wrote on her blog Saturday (linked here). “I gave it my best shot and made it almost half way around the world. I will definitely keep going, and whether or not I will make any more stops after this I don’t know yet. I admit I was pretty upset at first, but there is no point in getting upset. Whats done is done and there is nothing I can do about it.”
Despite some media reports stating that Abby’s trip has been abandoned, the journey IS NOT over. Abby still plans on continuing her solo circumnavigation and hopes to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.
For those still critical of her journey, it looks as if she’s much more capable of mature decision-making than many gave her credit for. This would have been difficult for anyone to make, but considering it comes from someone her age — very impressive.
But that’s what her mother said going into this: She never doubted her daughter’s maturity in making this trip. The things out of her control — weather, etc. — were somewhat dangerous, but not enough to deter her from giving it a try.
The pitch: On this day 49 years ago, Roger Maris hit his first homer of the ’61 season off Detroit’s Paul Foytack in Tiger Stadium. It came in the fifth inning … in Game 11 of the season (linked here).
Despite the rather slow start, there would be 60 more — 61 in total — to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record and stand alone as the greatest home-run hitting season until Mark McGwire, and later Barry Bonds, would muscle their way into the picture some 40 years later, and wipe Maris’ name from the record books, fake asterisk and all.
Naturally, there’s a need to go back and review what Maris did, considering what McGwire and Bonds also did to achieve their fame.
Is it true that, as the book jacket suggests, Maris “may have been the greatest ballplayer no one really knows”? That’s why it’s backtracking to rediscovering this modest man who really isn’t from Fargo, North Dakota — he was born Roger Maras in Hibbing, Minnesota, the same town that produced Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan).
No doubt, many baseball people consider his record to be “pure” — why can’t baseball reinstate it considering all that’s come out since 1998, when McGwire passed it with 70, and 2001, when Bonds elevated it to 73.
Sixty-one in ’61, no matter what you believe, remains one of the most dynamic moments in baseball history, one deserving of Maris’ Hall of Fame induction.
In this study of the man by Clavin and Peary, where more than 130 interviews were conducted and more fresh photos were uncovered, this is probably as definitive a piece as we’re going to get — to re-digest all that Maris was about.
Aside from the coverage of his career that at times reads as bland as a Wikipedia entry, the concluding chapter on Maris’ legacy is probably most insightful. The authors conclude:
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
(Video courtesy of the Fordham athletic department; WFUV’s Gregg Caserta on the call)
MLB: Dodgers at New York Mets, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN:
That clip above is Brian Kownacki of Fordham, taking a dive over the catcher for Iona, which caps an eight-run comeback. It’s bypassed the one-mil viewer mark on YouTube. Considering he’s a local kids, you’d think the Mets would bring him by for a replay. And since he’s from Vin Scully’s alma mater, there’d be more local interest. By the way, if you watch the game on ESPN, Nomar Garciaparra is part of the broadcast team. It’s gotta beat Steve Lyons.
MLB: Angels vs. Cleveland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
Jered Weaver (2-0, 2.77 ERA) leads the league in strikeouts with 27 so far in four starts.
NBA playoffs: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Game 5, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
ABC keeps promoting this new show called “Happy Town,” which we only see when the Lakers are on the network and Mike Breen starts to read the script. “Don’t let the name fool you,” he adds. And don’t let the Lakers fool you — this town won’t be happy until this series mercifully ends. The show airs Wednesday. The Lakers will unnecessarily be flying back to OKC when this game ends.
MLB: Angels vs. Cleveland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
Stay cool. Come by and get a free portable ice chest for your parking lot coolies.
MLB: Dodgers at New York Mets, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
The Mets’ Johan Santana (2-1, 2.56 ERA), scheduled to start tonight, has had all his decisions come at Citi Bank Field.
MLB: Dodgers at New York Mets, 10 a.m., Prime Ticket:
A day game only because the Dodgers want to get this roadie over as quickly as possible.
MLB: Angels vs. Cleveland, Angel Stadium, 4 p.m., FSW:
An odd start — could the sun be in a worse place for the right fielders? — but it’s because both teams head to the Midwest, and against the clock, after the contest for games on Friday.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
To open an 11-day, 10-game homestand, this is your town, USC Dodger fans. At least for tonight. The first of a two-night promotion — Friday, it’s UCLA’s turn to turn it power blue –has the Dodgers giving out special “LA” logo hats and T-shirts in the appropriate school colors, offering up cool reserve seats down the first-base line so you can sit with those of your ilk, and there’s an all-inclusive consession menu that includes Dodger Dogs, nachos, popcorn, soft drinks, Pastrami sandwiches, Kettle style potato chips and Kosher style pickles. Each school’s marching band will participate, and a special Trojan and Bruin will throw out the first pitch. You got game for this?
Golf: PGA Tour: Quail Hollow Championship, first round, Golf Channel, noon to 3 p.m. (also second-round on Golf Channel, third and final rounds on CBS):
Tiger Woods ain’t out of the woods yet. As a tuneup to next week’s Players Championship, he’s joining Masters champ Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Jim Furyk for some crowd time in Charlotte, N.C. — his first event this season in which the general public can purchase tickets, act unruly, and pretty much do what they please. Even fly a plane overhead? Woods won this event in ’07 and was fourth last year. Tournament director Kym Hougham said they’ve been preparing for Woods’ possible participation for some time, and will need to make only slight tweaks with security plans. “I think our crowds are very respectful and they always have been. The players have always told us that,” Hougham said. “If there is inappropriate behavior, we’ll act on it swiftly. I’m sure that if Tiger didn’t feel we could handle it he wouldn’t be coming here.”
NBA playoffs: Lakers at Oklahoma City, Game 6, TBD:
Thunder bench scrub rookie James Harden: 0 points at Staples Center in Games 1 and 2. Then 18 in Game 3 and 15 in Game 4 in Oklahoma City. And he’s back at home. See any trends?
MLB: Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
As attractive as this matchup is again, it may be worth heading down to a pretty place in Southern California down San Diego way. A ticket to this night’s San Diego Padres’ game — does it matter who they’re playing — also gets you free admission into their Beerfest promotion, with some of the local breweries putting their adult beverages on display (linked here). The beer, of course, ain’t free. Six-ounce tasters are $3, and a full pour is $6. By the way, the Padres’ opponent is the Brewers. So it makes sense. And the Brewers face the Dodgers in L.A. next week.
MLB: Angels at Detroit, 4 p.m., FSW:
The start of 10 straight games on the road for the Angels goes to Tigerland, where Carlos Guillen, hitting .333 with a homer and six RBIs in his last 10 games, is still on the DL. The Tigers split two with the Angels last week in Anaheim. Guillen was 6-for-14 against the Angels with 3 RBI in that series.
Horse racing: Kentucky Derby, 3:15 p.m., Channel 4 (on the air from 1 to 4 p.m.):
Lookin At Lucky has separated himself from the horde of Derby contenders despite finishing a troubling third as the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby. The colt trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert is atop the graded-stakes earnings list with $1.48 million. Last year’s juvenile champion proved by winning the Rebel at Oaklawn Park that transitioning from California’s synthetic surfaces to dirt won’t be an issue. “He’s just getting stronger and stronger. He’s a really happy horse right now,” said Baffert, who has another probable starter in Southwest Stakes winner Conveyance. Other trainers with two possible starters include California-based John Sadler, who has Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy and upset Arkansas Derby winner Line of David.
Boxing: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Shane Mosley, 6 p.m., HBO pay-per-view, $54.95:
Oscar De La Hoya, helping to promote this big-deal bout, predicts this will do 3 million pay-per-view buys, which would smash the mark of 2.4 million buys when Mayweather beat De La Hoya in 2007. No other fight has topped 2 million. De La Hoya, who also lost to Mosley twice, admits 3 million might see unrealistic to some, “but nobody thought we could do 1 million” for Mayweather vs. Juan Manual Marquez in September — which drew 1.05 million. If you’ve been watching the HBO reality show “24/7″ since earlier this month, you know Mayweather puts on a good show. He may even cry in the ring. “I don’t mind crying on camera,” he says.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
In the past, visits from the Pirates would bring out local fans who were invested in the success of players like second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson. No more. How sad.
MLB: Angels at Detroit, 10 a.m., FSW:
Would you keep sitting Brandon Wood if he continues to avoid putting wood on the ball when he’s at the plate?
MLS: Galaxy vs. Philadelphia, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Philly team is known as the Union. If they ever fold, and then return, they’d be the Re-Union. That’s all we got.
NBA playoffs: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Game 7, Staples Center, TBA:
Does it really have to come to this? ABC has its 12:30 p.m. tipoff window all ready for someone to fill.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh, Dodger Stadium, 1 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Remember last week, when the Brewers beat the Pirates, 20-0 — the worst loss in the Bucs’ 124-year history? Hold that thought. Through last Friday, the Pirates had been outscored 85-13 in their eight losses (one of them to the Dodgers in the first series of the season) and the team ERA was 7.23 — the highest in the league by more than a run.
MLB: Angels at Detroit, 10 a.m., FSW:
So what happened the other night when Detroit outfielder Johnny Damon was tossed out of the Tigers’ game against the Angels in the fifth inning? Damon said he drew a line about six inches off the inside corner of the plate with his bat where he thought a pitch was located. Home plate umpire Dale Scott told Damon that if he did that again, he’d have to eject him. Said Damon: “Well, I’m doing it again.” And Scott threw him out.
The pitch: And now, four Hall of Famers who need no introduction ….
The four things that these books have in common are their publisher, Chicago-based Triumph books, which trumpets itself as “the leader in sports publishing.”
So, if you’re thinking of what could have been discussed at a recent strategy session, imagine editors sitting around a table throwing out ideas for new titles: What do baseball readers today want?
How about “real” heroes.
Rob Kaplan, whose website RonKaplansBaseballBookshelf (linked here) keeps up with all that is the sports’ literary directions, made the observation when surveying the list of baseball bios that were coming out this year — starting with the impressive one already done on Willie Mays, another on Roger Maris, and one coming soon on Hank Aaron: There seems to be a need to go back and find the non-steroid stars of yesteryear. What made them be who they were without the help of PEDs? Why did their fans embrace their playing ability as well as their character?
Not to purposely lump these four together, but in that context, it makes a lot of sense. And, if you’re trying to survive as a publisher, consider: Who wants to read another story about Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire?