Day 23: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — When juicing and its ramifications has reached a point where it can be the stuff of fiction

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  • The pitch: We’ll come clean here: Baseball novels are as tough to review as baseball movies.
    (What, did you expect some personal PED revelation here? I only go as far as what my pharmacist recommends on generic versus name brand.)
    Naturally, you want authenticity as much as entertainment when baseball is portrayed in fiction (like, in “The Natural.”)
    You appreciate creativity as long as its believable.
    Otherwise, it kinda drives us nuts.
    We’ve been careful to pick and choose the novels we want to include in this annual series over the years — Joseph Shuster’s “The Might Have Been” from 2012 was in, but Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” in 2011 wasn’t, mostly because of the timing of getting a copy despite all its publicity).Greatestshow_frontcoverBailey’s first effort, “The Greatest Show on Dirt” in 2012, was worth taking a chance based on our respect for the depth of storylines from the minor-league game that he lived through, and we enjoyed giving the first-time author some swings in the cage.
    With “Nine Bucks,” Bailey has hit it on the screws again. Continue reading “Day 23: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — When juicing and its ramifications has reached a point where it can be the stuff of fiction” »
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Day 22: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — If there’s a catch to it, Kendall isn’t just throwing his mask away, he’s got it

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  • The pitch: Until Jason Kendall told me, I never knew that I may have once been part of the “Dig-Me Tribe.”
    0821_jason-kendall_400x2801“When the catcher throws the ball to second, the second baseman catches it and throws it to the shortstop, the shortstop throws to third, and the third baseman throws the ball back to the pitcher,” Kendall explains on page 23 about what happens once a pitcher is done taking his warmups before an inning.
    “If you see the third baseman studding the ball before he gives it to the pitcher, he’s not really accomplishing anything except looking cool: he’s part of the Dig-Me Tribe. You can spot them by their wristbands and the batting gloves hanging out of their back pocket. These are the players who worry about looking pretty.”
    And to think, when I did that in Little League some 40 years ago, all I was doing was imitating the big league guys.
    Looking for what, on that piece of cowhide covered in plastic coating? I had no idea. You just had to look at the ball before the pitcher did. It was just the way it was done.
    $_35“But if the pitcher looks closely at the ball, he’s checking the surface for scuffs or nicks,” Kendall continues. “A scuffed or nicked baseball will have extra movement if the pitcher knows what he’s doing. If the pitcher suddenly has extra break on a pitch, you might see the batter ask the umpire to check the ball. He knows something’s not right. Either that or the hitter’s also in the Dig-Me Tribe and just wants to look cool on TV. Those prima-donna players are getting more TV time for themselves. Hey, look how cool I am. I can tell the umpire to check the ball.”
    We can dig that, too.
    In fact, the more we dig into “Throwback,” the less we realize what we really thought we already knew, so a lot of this really shouldn’t be new to us, but who knew? Continue reading “Day 22: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — If there’s a catch to it, Kendall isn’t just throwing his mask away, he’s got it” »
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Day 21: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — The book on Brooks, trying to share the glove

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Not a great Dodger moment: Brooks Robinson leaps for joy with teammates Dave McNally and Andy Echebarren after the Orioles swept the Dodgers in four games in the 1966 World Series.

Not a great Dodger moment: Brooks Robinson leaps for joy with teammates Dave McNally and Andy Etchebarren after the Orioles swept the Dodgers in four games in the 1966 World Series.

  • The pitch: The Brooks Robinson we grew up with in the ’60s and ’70s as the most ultimate warrior wearing Rawlings leather is tough to read about these days.
    The 76 year old took a fall off at a Hollywood, Fla., casino during an appearance in 2012, and he’s involved in a lawsuit against the Seminole Tribe for $10 million in physical damages and future earnings lost. A recent story in the Miami Herald said he still experiences bleeding on the brain, cracks in his spine, and has lost five inches in height. His attorney says Robinson requires constant care, and “has aged 10 years” since that incident.
    Wilson, an Indiana-based ophthalmologist and Society for American Baseball Research member who last year did a biography on Mark Fidrych, makes mention near the end of this book about Robinson’s “near-catastrophic fall,” an event that a “close associate” is quoted as saying that Robinson should never have attended because he was still too weak from a recent recovery that involved prostate cancer as well as complications from a serious infection during some abdominal surgery. Continue reading “Day 21: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — The book on Brooks, trying to share the glove” »
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Play It Forward: April 21-27 on your sports calendar — Boston’s back in the running business, while Clippers, Kings and Ducks continue a post-season run

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

A makeshift memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing victims is near the finish line ahead of Monday's 118th Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A makeshift memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing victims is near the finish line ahead of Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

THE 118th BOSTON MARATHON
Monday at 6:30 a.m., Universal Sports Network:
“There’s a road race in Boston on Monday,” Boston Globe columnist Dan Schaughnessy wrote Sunday. “An actual athletic competition. Thousands of athletes will compete to see who can cover 26.2 miles faster than anybody else. Remember when the Boston Marathon was just a footrace? …. Everything, of course, has changed. This year, the Boston Marathon belongs to the world. It stands as a symbol of American freedom and a population refusing to cower to terrorism. Bostonians, New Englanders, Americans, and citizens of the free world on Monday will return to Hopkinton to reclaim a celebration that last year was interrupted by murder and mayhem.”

Shalane Flanagan approaches the finish line to finish fourth in the women's division of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  Flanagan is more determined to win the race for her battered hometown, and if she does, the Marblehead, Mass., native would be the first American winner since 1985. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Shalane Flanagan approaches the finish line to finish fourth in the women’s division of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Flanagan is more determined to win the race for her battered hometown, and if she does, the Marblehead, Mass., native would be the first American winner since 1985. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

For example: There will be 100 runners in this year’s race as part of Team MR8, all picked by the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation to honor the 8-year-old who was the youngest of three who died during the bombings last year. One of those chosen Pat Brophy, who was stopped with less than a mile to go from the finish line when the two blasts occurred. “I have unfinished business on that course,” she told CBS News this week. The group, who applied through the www.teammr8.org website, is made up of many who didn’t get to complete the race a year ago, but “they are also running for our son Martin, and finishing a race he wanted to someday run, but will never get the chance to,” his mother, Denise Richard, said in a statement to CBS News. Pre-race coverage starts at 5:30 a.m. and race coverage ends at 10 a.m., with a one-hour wrap-up show at 1 p.m. A two-hour condensed version of the race airs from 5-to-7 p.m. and 8-to-10 p.m. with the wrap-up re-airing each time.
Adding to the day: The Boston Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles in an 8 a.m. first pitch (MLB Network, with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat), coming back just hours after playing for ESPN on Sunday night.

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading “Play It Forward: April 21-27 on your sports calendar — Boston’s back in the running business, while Clippers, Kings and Ducks continue a post-season run” »

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Day 20: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — The Continental divide, or a fresh take on the ghost league that was history before it was ever made history

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From left: Casey Stengel, Branch Rickey and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in the fall of 1960, a time when Stengel would be fired as the New York Yankees' manager and when Rickey's plans for a rival league were unraveling. Bettmann/CORBIS

From left: Casey Stengel, Branch Rickey and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in the fall of 1960, a time when Stengel would be fired as the New York Yankees’ manager and when Rickey’s plans for a rival league were unraveling. Bettmann/CORBIS

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