Today’s version of the sports media column — aka, the weakest link in the Los Angeles News Group food chain — centers on a discussion we had with Ron Kaplan about his latest research project, “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die.”
Or die trying.
There’s this quote from Holden Caufield from “Catcher in the Rye” that goes: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
I got that feeling finally reaching out to Kaplan for a conversation… And hope to do more of that with upcoming reviews. Kaplan has a fantastic baseball-centric blog with author interviews worth checking in on religiously.
We will review it at the end of own “30 for 30” series that starts Monday with a review of a baseball book during every day of April, to launch the new MLB season and give us reason to hang out at the local bookstore all in the name of research.
We also had more on Tim McCarver’s decision to step away after this year’s grind on the Fox MLB beat, and other notes.
What didn’t make it into the column but should have:
== CBS and Turner say they’re up 4 percent in the ratings over last year during the coverage of the Sweet 16 games Thursday, which included the two at Staples Center. Good for them. But we’ve found that the less we’re engaged with the games, the more we’re using our iPhone just to check on scores. We’d like to see the ESPN data on that instead.
== Did you hear the one about Doug Gottlieb, on the CBS set with Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, wedging in a comment that went something like: “I don’t know why you guys ask me, I’m just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man’s perspective.” Gottlieb, the Caucasian for every situation, is nothing if not honest. At all costs.
Unfortunately he felt compelled to offer up an apology as Twitter exploded. Best reaction was from Gumbel, who immediately looked away as if to say, “Where did that come from?” Again, context is the key here, and Barkley later said on the show at halftime: “I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb. He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy, all those idiots on Twitter, which I would never, ever do. Listen — me, Kenny, Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally, so all you people at home who got no life who are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with and it’s no big deal.” Barkley to the rescue, as someone who knows what it’s like to open his mouth and have all the air come out of the room.
== Our best moment from the studio pregame came from the group based in Atlanta, where Seth Davis predicted not only a Wichita State victory in Thursday’s game over LaSalle but also guaranteed a trip to the Final Four for the Shockers — and then walked off the set.