30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 30 >>>>>>>>>>>>> So which of the 29 you just read about will be in the revised edition of this one?

The book: “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die”
The author: Ron Kaplan
The vital stats: University of Nebraska Press, 405 pages, $24.95
Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells, the author’s blog , a site for the book with essential info, or the publisher’s website
The pitch: On our day-by-day, tear-off baseball desk calendar, we came across a sheet that asked us to match the writers to their works. There was “The Celebrant,” “Damn Yankees,” “Eight Men Out” and “Shoeless Joe” on one side. On the other: W.P. Kinsella, George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, Eliot Asinof and Eric Rolfe Greenberg.

In Kaplan’s list of “501,” three of the four are included. Kaplan admits he mistakenly misremembered to include Kinsella’s “Shoeless Joe” — the only baseball book his wife can ever recall reading, he said. It was a simple mistake. He thought it was already in there because it was so obvious.

We also thought it would be obvious to find the Abbot-Wallop entry of “Damn Yankees” — but we couldn’t because that’s the name of the Broadway play. It was based on the book “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” and Kaplan has that duly noted on pages 141-142.

“Giving the original novel an extra kick is the dust jacket drawn by Willard Mullin, renown for his Dodger Bum caricatures for the New York tabloids,” Kaplan writes.

And as it would turn out, there is a book of his work coming out later this summer == “Willard Mullin’s Golden Age Of Baseball Drawings 1934-1972” (due in August).

Again, thanks for the reference. Otherwise, we’d be lost.

It leads us to circle back to the interview we did with Kaplan to start this series, explaining the nuts and bolts of how his book came together apart from how the reader can find it to be useful. Continue reading “30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 30 >>>>>>>>>>>>> So which of the 29 you just read about will be in the revised edition of this one?” »

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Why Jason Collins’ revelation of being gay will say more about us than it will him

One of the last professional sports barriers has supposedly been hurdled. We were all set for a Jackie Robinson moment here.

Except this isn’t it.

Does it really matter? Yes, and no. Is the timing right? Sure, and who knows.

As we take this all in, hash over the ramifications of such a statement and examine our own fears and stereotypes, maybe the only thing we’re fairly certain about Jason Collins’so-called landmark revelation this morning about his sexual orientation is that it’ll end up being more about us reacting to it than him admitting to it.

The pride of Harvard Westlake basketball’s program years ago picked in a Sports Illustrated cover story space to admit that, at the tail end of his NBA career, he’s as comfortable marching in a gay pride parade as he is boxing out Blake Griffin for a rebound. It arrives special delivery during a curious window of opportunity in our American sports history.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins begins in the SI piece, apparently trying to define what’s the most important details for his legacy to date.

The way the magazine wants to define him, as well as others in the immediate conversation, is that Collins jumps to the front of the line to become the “first openly gay active athlete in a major American team sport.”  Add to that “male” team sport, and you’ve got yourself some buzz.

Somehow, it smells like this is too much about the messenger and not as much about the message.

It’s bound to get immediate reaction from those around him, those who know him best. Consider the words already from his former Harvard Westlake coach, Greg Hilliard:

“None of us who were with him in high school had any idea, and it’s just unfortunate now that it’s even a news story, as if anyone cares about it.
“I think it’s neat he decided without a whole bunch of other people who have (come out publicly). He is the one stepping up and saying something and I think that’s awesome.”

Awesome is more of what happened years ago, when the groundwork was laid by another prominent San Fernando Valley athlete. David Kopay, who prepped at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, wrote in his 1977 autobiography about his “extraordinary self-revelation” of coming out after his NFL career ended. Kopay, living these days in Pasadena, also used the media to get his message out, proclaiming it in a Washington Star story that ran on Dec. 9, 1975.

That’s almost three years earlier to the day that Jason and twin brother Jarron were born in Northridge. Continue reading “Why Jason Collins’ revelation of being gay will say more about us than it will him” »

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 29 >>>>> This Bud’s for Achorn, Von der Ahe, Simmons …. heck, every other American immigrant from the 19th Century

The book: “The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game”

The author: Edward Achorn

The vital stats: Public Affairs New York/Perseus Book Group, 318 pages, $26.99

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells, author’s website or publisher’s website

The pitch: If Achorn wrote it, it’s A-league material. In this case, American Association quality. And 130 years to let it all ferment. Continue reading “30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 29 >>>>> This Bud’s for Achorn, Von der Ahe, Simmons …. heck, every other American immigrant from the 19th Century” »

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Play It Forward: April 29-May 5 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


The Kings’ Jeff Carter, left, scores past St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott during the first period a Kings’ win last Feb. 11 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Game 1: 5 p.m. Tuesday at St. Louis, Prime, CNBC:
If the Kings proved anything during last year’s out-of-the-blue Stanley Cup run, it’s that home ice doesn’t matter when you’re blindsiding higher-regarded opponents. But these Kings are on the radar this time. Any problem with that?
The Kings may have swept the Blues away in last season’s Western Conference semifinals, and in three regular-season games this year, but St. Louis has rebuilt itself in the last month-plus. Aside from notable trades for defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, goaltender Brian Elliott hit a stride and the team finished on a 12-3 tear. The Kings’ 7-3-2 record in April is distinctly Staples Center friendly – 7-0 at home. That could make the difference here as Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has not come up as dominant in road games (5-9-3) this season.  “We’ve caught a few bounces along the way, but that’s not going to play at all into Game 1,” Quick said. “We both start zero-zero and we’re just going to have to outwork them. They’ve got some big forwards, strong forwards — they go hard at the net, strong on the back end, a couple of skilled guys that can really create stuff on the power play so they got great goal tending.  They’re going to bring similar challenges a lot like the other teams in the top eight are going to bring and I think it’s just going to come down to … we got to outwork them in order to get some wins.”
Game 2 is 6:30 p.m. Thursday in St. Louis, CNBC
Game 3 is 7 p.m. Saturday at Staples Center, NBC Sports Network

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. at Honda Center, FSW, NBC Sports Net:
The Ducks may have inexpertly cruised to the Pacific Division title, but they sputtered to a 7-5-1 mark in April and have two equally good, but not hot, goalies. The Red Wings rallied to make the playoffs for a 22nd consecutive season, winning their last four in a row and continue to get healthier under former Ducks coach Mike Babcock. Goalie Jimmy Howard had two shutouts in that four-game streak, and beat the Kings 3-1.
Game 2: 7 p.m. Thursday at Honda Center, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Detroit, NBC Sports Network



MLB: DODGERS vs. COLORADO, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
We see an “I See You” Hanley Ramirez bobble head giveaway in your future during this series against the division-leading Rockies — call it Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9), on the night that the shortstop claims he could be playing in his first game of the season. How about a game-winning grand slam. Like that other Ramirez guy once did.
The series ends Wednesday (7:10 p.m., Prime)

In sweeping away the Angels’ first home series back on April 9-11, the Swingin’ A’s outscored them by a combined 28-11.
The rest of the series is Tuesday (7 p.m., Channel 13) and Wednesday (12:35 p.m., FSW)


Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, battles for a rebound with Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph during the second half of Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Game 5: 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center, TNT, Prime:
The team that controls the boards has won each game of the series. Memphis had a ridiculous 45-28 advantage in Game 4, 13-5 on offensive rebounds. Moving forward, they might want to consider just throwing Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph into an octagon to settle things.
Game 6: TBA Friday at Memphis
Game 7: TBA Sunday at Staples Center (if necessary)


BOSTON at NEW YORK, 4 p.m., TNT:
Game 5 of the series should spell the end for the Celtics. They put up a better fight than the Lakers.


ANGELS vs. BALTIMORE, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Dodgers have already played the Orioles this season, but the Angels haven’t? To divert attention, the Angels are giving away plaid fedora hats to customers on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11).
The four-game series includes games Friday (7 p.m., Channel 13) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW)


They opened the season with the Giants taking two of three from the Dodgers, with Sergio Romo saving both of them. He’s only blown one save try this season. Nope, just isn’t the same without Brian Wilson.
The rest of the series is Saturday (6 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN).


HORSE RACING: 139th KENTUCKY DERBY, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., 3:20 p.m., Channel 4:
If common sense is a factor, pull out the wallet for Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents. The colt trained by Doug O’Neal (who had last year’s Derby winner I’ll Have Another) has more star power having Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and his recent national title in as a co-owner. Goldencents has also run six times in his career and missed the payoff board just once. Trainer Todd Pletcher may start six in the 20-horse field — including early favorite Revolutionary, with three-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel.

6 p.m., MGM Grand Gardena Arena, Las Vegas, Showtime PPV, $59.95 ($69.95 HD):
Pretty Boy Floyd cashes his “Get Out of Jail” card in what’s being hyped as his eagerly awaited return to the ring to defend his WBC welterweight title and 43-0 pro record. Pound for pound, this could get ugly as Mayweather starts a new $200 million, six-deal contract for Showtime. What if the 36-year-old loses right off the bat? He can always go back to “Dancing With the Stars  (Ninth place finish, season five, one spot below Mark Cuban).”

8 p.m., Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario
The organization formerly known as the Lingerie Football League attains legendary status as the three-time defending champion Temptation will reveal another banner. Temptation QB Ashley Salerno (left), with two rushing TDs, two passing TDs and two conversion runs, led the team to a 31-18 road win in Chicago to open the season. Hut, hut, hike up your bikini bottom.

NCAA MEN’S FINAL, 6 p.m., UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion:
Defending national champion UC Irvine faces Loyola of Chicago (6 p.m.) and BYU takes on Penn State (8 p.m.) in Thursday’s semifinals to figure out who gets to go this far.


8 p.m., Home Depot Center, ESPN2:
The plan is to give out 10,000 Landon Donovan bobble heads (not actual size, right). Even better if he’s on the pitch,  having missed the 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake with a leg problem for the 4-1-2 Galaxy.

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Garvey’s online garage sale nets … just $315,000?

According to data on the Baseball Reference.com site, Steve Garvey probably made in the $300,000 a season range when he was playing first base for the Dodgers in the late 1970s, during their back-to-back seasons of winning the National League championship.

According to the final results of a 71-item auction on SCP Auctions in Orange County that ended Saturday night, Garvey saw about $315,000 bid on the sale of some things you’d assume to be in the priceless item category, things stored away for decades but finally allowed to be bought by the public.

For the 10-time All Star, 1981 World Series champion, four-time Gold Glove winner,  two-time All-Star Game MVP, two-time NLCS MVP, 1981 Roberto Clemente Award winner, 1984 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award and deserving to have his No. 6 retired not by the Dodgers but the San Diego Padres, Garvey discovered his 1974 NL MVP award was worth $68,482.

His copy of the 1981 World Series championship trophy went for $39,382.

The bat he used to hit the game-winning homer in Game 4 of the 1984  NLCS for San Diego fetched $21,524.

His 1977 and ’78 NLCS championship rings went for $20,724 each. Gold Glove awards from ’74 and ’75 were a combined $17,000.

The ’78 All-Star Game MVP trophy brought in excess of $8,000, about $2,500 more than the ’74 All-Star Game MVP trophy.

Strangely, neither  matched the $10,766 that came for his 1968 Ogden Dodgers Pioneer League championship ring.

Things you’d think were far more sentimental value to him — like his high school game-worn cap — was a steal for $396.

Warm-up jackets, hats, helmets, gloves and shoes ranged from $1,500 to $4,500. Some other rings of significance went for $2,500 to $3,500.

Watching players sell off their belongings, for whatever reason, by whatever means, has become a disheartening process. One of those items that reflect the shallowness of the whole fleecing procedure was Lot No. 531. That was the 1975 Baseball Writer’s Association of America Di Giovanna Trophy given to him as “The Player Who Most Typifies Dodger Tradition.”

It drew no bids.

By comparison, former Cleveland High standout Bret Saberhagen collected about $311,000 from the auction of 77 items, including his 1985 Cy Young Award ($38,588), ’89 Cy Young Award ($28.991), ’85 World Series MVP Award ($37,610), ’85 World Series championship ring ($73,409). And no one wanted his 1987 AL Comeback Player of the Year plaque. Other things in his collection included signed jerseys from former teammates.

More on the auction: http://catalog.scpauctions.com/catalog.aspx

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