The pitch: Five years ago, Macht churned out the acclaimed “Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball” (a new paperback version is now available, at thls link and this link). He used more than 675 pages to chronicle Mack from birth (1862), playing professionally, managing the Pittsburgh Pirates to two losing seasons, trying to reinvent himself in the minor leagues, then becoming owner/manager of the Philadelphia Athletics through the 1914 World Series. And at the time, Macht said he needed 22 years to complete that.
After accounting for Mack’s first phase in the game, the journey continues at Macht speed.
Here, Mack’s teams floundered, with seven last-place finishes, in part because World War I took many of his top talent. But Mack rebuilt the A’s to championships from 1929-’31, with Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove and Al Simmons. The greatest team ever? Many believe so.
What’s been delicately included in today’s weekly media column offering (linked here): A look at why NBC would offer more than 3,500 hours of live Olympics events on its website, how the new USC/ESPN Radio deal doesn’t affect the local broadcast team (but that paring could still change), and other things worth filling the space.
What’s astutely been excluded, and for some reason now feels it has to be included in this blog post:
== FoxSports.net has launched its own Olympic site — foxsports.com/olympics – that will include contributions by former sprinter Maurice Greene, swimmer Amy Van Dyken, gymnast Dominique Dawes and basketball player Christian Laettner. A new site at USA Today — Olympics.usatoday.com – with its own countdown clock ticking away.
== Turner Sports and the NCAA will have more than 400 hours of spring championships on NCAA.com, starting April 27 with the Division III men’s volleyball championship. It includes a men’s national volleyball semifinal match (from USC) on May 3, the womens’ water polo finals from San Diego (May 13), and all four rounds of the men’s golf championships from Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades from May 31 to June 3.
== Because he harbors visions of a career someday as a game-show host, and he missed his window of opportunity with ABC’s “Wipeout,” year-around NFL Network anchor / host Rich Eisen has been tabbed to be the front man on TNT’s first reality show called “The Great Escape.” From the producers of “Amazing Race,” the series pits amateur escape artists against each other. It starts in late June. Unless it disappears before then.
== Yes, the Travis Rodgers show that Angels flagship station KLAA-AM (830) often offers weekdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. is the same gent who used to produce Jim Rome’s syndicated show but decided to leave in June, 2009 after 15 years. Rodgers works for the Yahoo! Sports Network based in Houston at 1560 The Game.
== Showtime will run a 30-minute preview (Saturday, 6 p.m.) on the next season of “The Franchise” A Season with the Miami Marlins,” which will start on July 11. Otherwise known as the Ozzie Guillen show.
The pitch: Wendel, who two years ago came up strong with delivering “High Heat” (linked here), says he was channel surfing one night and noticing the usual banter between talking heads, wondered: Could we be any more divided?
Well, perhaps. Like in 1968, where he concludes that “the gods were angry.”
With the time to go back to his University of Michigan roots and take a tour of downtown Detroit to see what once was, Wendel’s task came more into focus. The Tigers had seen its city left in ruins from rioting the year before, mirroring the turbulent times. Now, there’s been some time to pause and reflect on how the game somehow grinded out a season amidst the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, a Democratic presidential campaign that led to more unrest in Chicago, plus a divisive Vietnam War. That didn’t even take into account an upcoming controversial Summer Olympics in Mexico City, adding to the force of the political tornado.
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly said he believes a media report estimating that between 40 percent and 60 percent of his players use marijuana is inaccurate.
Kelly addressed the story in ESPN The Magazine (linked here and linked here) today following practice. The report is based on interviews with 19 current or former Oregon players and officials, and it accompanies a larger piece that looks at marijuana use among college football players nationwide.
Kelly said he doubts the Ducks would be as successful as they have been over the past few years if that many players were smoking marijuana.
“If we had that many kids doing it, we wouldn’t be 34-6 (for the last three seasons),” Kelly said. This past season, the Ducks defeated Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl.
“We win because of how hard we practice, and I see our kids every day in practice,” Kelly said. “If we saw signs of it — I haven’t seen signs of it.”
The pitch: You assume you know all there really is to know about Johnny Vander Meer — his name is mentioned every time someone throws a no-hitter, with the question focused on: Can he do it again? But the feat that the 23-year-old rookie accomplished for the Cincinnati Reds in June of 1938, when he no-hit the Boston Bees and Brooklyn Dodgers in consecutive starts, is just a starting point really for Johnson, a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Arizona who examines Vander Meer’s 14-year career before and after his claim to fame. Vander Meer, as we find out, was actually Dodgers’ property until a minor-league manager/owner advised the team not to move him along in their system. Consider him Sandy Koufax 20 years earlier — a hard-throwing left-hander who had control issues, but would long be remembered for no-hitters.
The pitch: While technically not a new publication out in 2012, were’s making an allowance for the fresh paperback version of the 2011 original that arrives later this month, revitalizing the story of Alejandro “Alex” Pompez in the wake of the latest Jackie Robinson celebration around baseball.
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 as a Negro League owner of the New York Cubans, Pompez also was known for running one of the most infamous numbers rackets in Harlem. So he’s in, and Pete Rose isn’t? So he’s in, and Buck O’Neill isn’t? It was enough to outrage then MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann to call anyone on that committee which let Pompez in over O’Neill a member of the “Worst Person in the World” category.
Burgos was one of them.
Having just finished a book called “Playing Ameirca’s Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line,” Burgos found himself with “the distinct honor” (as he calls it) of being part of the Negro League group that allowed 17 to be put into the Hall in 2006. This book, in a way, gives Burgos hundreds of pages of reasons why he’s right and Olberman isn’t.
Roy Storey, who spent one season as the Kings television/radio play-by-play man in 1972-73 with Dan Avey – between the first play-by-play announcer in Kings history, Jiggs McDonald, and the current voice of the Kings, Bob Miller – has died at the age of 85.
Storey died this afternoon at his home in Desert Hot Springs after a lengthy illness, said his longtime friend Len Shapiro.
A native of Grand Rapids, Minn., Storey was the voice of the California Golden Seals in 1970 where he became known for his ferocious call “shot on goal!!” In 1971, he was sports director of KYA in San Francisco when the Seals did not broadcast their games.
In 1972, McDonald left the Kings to join the expansion Atlanta Flames. Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke put Lakers’ broadcaster Chick Hearn to search for a replacement. Hearn recommended Miller for the job, but Cooke decided to hire long- Storey.
When Storey left the team after one season, the Kings went back to hire Miller in 1973.
Storey’s career included stints behind the microphone for major league baseball on KYA 1260 and for one of the earliest sports-talk programs in the mid-1950s on Oakland’s KLX. Storey was also the color and play-by-play voice of the San Francisco 49ers alongside Bob Fouts, the Western Hockey League Seals alongside Don Klein and eventually the NHL’s Oakland Seals.
He also served as the radio announcer for hockey games at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley and was the voice of Saint Mary’s College basketball for many years. In addition, he was a news anchor at 1260/KYA in the 1970s.
In 2008, Storey was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
Miracles on Manchester and Frenzies on Figueroa are one thing.
The hernia on Chick Hearn Court that some Kings fans may prematurely give themselves by hoisting reproductions of the Stanley Cup outside of Staples Center before Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals can be prevented with a little reality check.
“I gotta keep reminding people, ‘It’s not that easy,’” said Bernie Nicholls. “Deep down, I know this is a lot tougher than it looks.”
NHL players, current and former, are nothing if not superstitious, and won’t talk about things that haven’t happened yet. But Nicholls, who played in five playoff series during his nine seasons with the Kings between 1981-’90, is trying to be far more of practical in this instance.
No one is dismissing the possibility of witnessing an event of historic proportions. The No. 8-seeded Kings – and it makes no sense to even be writing this – have the opportunity to make No. 1-seeded Vancouver vanish from the first round in four straight.
Never, ever, ever, has the No. 8 swept the No. 1. Especially one that won something called the President’s Trophy for having the best regular-season record. Ever.
But . . .
“You know how close this series really is?” said Nicholls (pictured left), a coaching consultant dressed in Kings’ sweat gear as he helped head coach Darryl Sutter run this morning’s practice at the El Segundo training facility. “Either team could be up 3-0. But it’s not even a 3-0 series. Maybe 1 -to 1, that’s what is should be.
“The funny thing about the playoffs is that one goal – one hit, one penalty – can turn everything around. (Canucks goalie Roberto) Luongo could have four shutouts in a row. You can’t give away an inch at this point.”
The pitch: Plenty of recent offerings have documented the plight, and delight, of the Negro League players, but this account from Motley (see bio linked here), the last living umpire from the Negro Leagues, actually first appeared in paperback in 2007. Now, it’s in a hardbound edition by a new publisher, in coordination with a TV documentary produced by his son, Byron, called “The Negro Leagues: An American Legacy.”
Byron is a singer, songwriter, filmmaker, lecturer, and photographer living in L.A. who was inspired to help his dad put this project together for PBS after growing up listening to his stories. (And, with his background, it explains why this could also be the first baseball book with a forward from Dionne Warwick, and comes with an endorsement from Ken Burns). The target launch for the documentary is Feb., 2013.
The pitch: Those already familiar with the work of Lester Rodney and the 2003 biography by Irwin Silber called “Press Box Red” (linked here) know a bit more about the task Lamb is tackling with this book.
Fortunately, Lamb says he was able to interview Rodney prior to his 2009 passing, and Lamb’s plea again (along with David Zirin) to get Rodney inducted into the writer’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame is apropos here.
Lamb, who also wrote the 2004 book “Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training” (linked here), credits Jules Tygiel’s “Baseball Great Experiment” in 1997 for giving him an appreciation for the importance of the story of desegregation, as well as Brian Carroll’s 2007 book, “Where to Stop the Cheering? The Black Press, the Black Community and the Integration of Baseball.”
But where Lamb takes the next call to action is actually pouring through thousands of microfilm stories from newspapers, some more than 100 years ago, and making more of a pinpoint discovery about how some writers were strongly talking about integrating baseball as far back as 1933.