Back again: A 2017 version of 30 baseball book reviews during the 30 days of April

Based loosely on the most-accepted definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — by the time this 10th consecutive year of reviewing 30 baseball books during the 30 days of April finishes, I’ll be hitting 300.
It’s kind of insane and yet it brings some sanity at the same time as the dark period between last October and this April needs some baseball context.
It’s an exercise that tests endurance, tolerance and, most of all, resourcefulness to find the books, order review copies, then figure out how to condense once the stack reaches 50 plus in some cases.
The result should be satisfaction. It’s often superseded by exhaustion. Then gratification and pleasure. Otherwise, why keep doing it?
The ultimate purpose is more a public service and a personal mission, trying to give enough heads up to readers about how to navigate the newest array of baseball-themed books that come out every spring, and then deciding how we’re going to set the lineup.
Starting at noon on April 1, and going through April 30, we’ll hit on a variety of books we’ve come to find enlightening, impressive and, for some, a bit disappointing. That’s just how it goes and goes. The attempt is one thing, the execution is another.
The collection this year will start with the latest Josh Pahigian adventure; hit on biographies of Leo Durocher, Urban Shocker, Lyman Bostock, Rick Ankiel, Ford Frick, Casey Stengel, Lefty O’Doul, Mike Piazza, Bill Semsoth and (hopefully) Dick Allen; an autobiography of Ila Borders; a civics lesson about the creation of Dodger Stadium; a look back at how the ’16 Cubs became the World Champs; and a few other surprises along the way.
And, of course, a special Jackie Robinson collection of new material for April 15.
Going back to previous seasons of book choices and reviews:
= From 2016
= From 2015
= From 2014
= From 2013
= From 2012
= From 2011
= From 2010
= From 2009
= From 2008
= And an explanation we once gave as to why we even try this. And thanks again to some guidance from Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf.

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More sports media notes version 03.29.17: The VR experience from the NCAA title game is reality, but no team channels this time

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin cuts down the net after beating Florida 77-70 in the East Regional championship game last Sunday in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

In addition to mid-week notes posted on the website concerning NBC’s new Winter Olympic live everywhere change in philosophy and the NCAA men’s Final Four coverage on CBS, we have these notes worthy of posting here and now:

== Unlike last season’s NCAA men’s basketball final, none of the Turner channels will be used as team-specific feeds while CBS is covering the main event.
CBS Sports chair Sean McManus said that it’s “a different business model for CBS than for Turner,” meaning the philosophy is for CBS to get as many people exclusively tuned into their network’s owned-and-operated channels in the major markets and not splintered to even consider including CBSSN.
But there is another first for the Monday title game: NCAA March Madness Live, managed by Turner Sports, continues a virtual reality coverage alternative that started with the Sweet 16 games in San Jose.
An extensive virtual courtside seat experience is first downloaded through the Oculus store for compatible mobile phones and has two options: $2.99 per game or $7.99 for the entire package. Spero Dedes, Steve Smith and Lisa Byington are the exclusive broadcast team. There is also a $1.99 fee per game option with a single VR courtside camera using the CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery.

== Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Kara Lawson and Holly Rowe call the NCAA women’s college basketball Final Four in Dallas on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (Stanford-South Carolina)  and (UConn-Mississippi State) 7 p.m. on ESPN2, leading into Sunday’s championship game at 3 p.m. on ESPN.


== The Library of Congress has announced it will preserve Vin Scully’s call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time the two teams played at the hallowed old stadium. Scully’s reaction in an AP interview:
“It was so meaningful to me. I’m not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore. The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in.”
During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: “Let’s take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you.”
The Library of Congress called it “a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans.”
More on other recordings the Library of Congress has decided to save.

== Last season, for almost all Dodgers TV road games, Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser were joined by Nomar Garciaparra on the SportsNet LA broadcasts. In the post-Vin Scully setup, Davis and Hershiser will work together as a two-man time for the most part, with Garciaparra occasionally coming in. Davis and Hershiser have the SportsNet LA call of the Dodgers-Angels exhibition series from Angel Stadium (Thursday and Friday, 7:07 p.m.) and Dodger Stadium (Saturday, 6 p.m.) leading into the regular-season opener against San Diego on Monday at Dodger Stadium (1 p.m.).
Note: Some schedules may indicate that ESPN is covering this season opener, which it is, but it will be blacked out in L.A.’s market.
== The Angels’ Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza start their eighth season together at Fox Sports West, also on the Dodgers-Angels exhibition series, leading into the regular-season opener at Oakland on 7 p.m. ESPN2 is also covering that game with Dave Flemming, Eduardo Perez and Dallas Braden.
The rest of the MLB Opening Day coverage Monday has Atlanta at N.Y. Mets (ESPN, 10 a.m., Jon Schiambi, RIck Sutcliffe, Doug Glanville) and Cleveland at Texas (ESPN, 4 p.m), Dan Schulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza).
The Schulman-Boone-Mendoza team begin their second full season today on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” with the capper to an ESPN/ESPN2 triple header on Sunday pitting the Chicago Cubs at St. Louis, at 5:30 p.m. The day also includes N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m. on (Sciambi, Sutcliffe, Glanville) and San Francisco at Arizona, 1 p.m., ESPN2 (Flemming, Perez, Braden) Continue reading “More sports media notes version 03.29.17: The VR experience from the NCAA title game is reality, but no team channels this time” »

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Play It Forward March 27-April 2: Finally, a Final Four … we see a USC in there, but …

And to think, it would have been such a quick drive, with perhaps a stop for Slim Jims at the Blythe Circle K, for the fans of UCLA to make if they needed another excuse to extend their spring break. Even closer for Arizona fans, coming up from Tucson. But the Pac-12’s future hopes in the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four are pinned to the Ducks from Oregon flying south from Eugene, in this position for the first time since they won the very first official men’s championship in 1939.
Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery call Oregon-North Carolina at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., a half hour after Gonzaga faces South Carolina in the other semifinal.
More of the week ahead — including another Lakers-Clippers encounter, the Dodgers-Angels exhibition series at their home stadiums, and the LPGA’s first major in Rancho Mirage — at this link.

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Sunday media: If the Lakers are tanking, the Spectrum SportsNet crew covering them isn’t, and the ratings bear it out as well

Bill Macdonald, right, and Stu Lantz before Friday’s Spectrum SportsNet broadcast. They have been together since Macdonald took over fulltime in 2012. Lantz has been with the team on its TV broadcast for the last 30 seasons. (Photo: Spectrum SportsNet)

As the Lakers slosh through to the conclusion of their fourth straight non-playoff losing season, seven years removed their last championship that must feels like decades ago, ratings on Spectrum SportsNet are improving.
Live game ratings are 5 percent higher in the 2016-17 season, they’re 14 percent better for adults 25-54 and 13 percent up for total viewership compared to last season through 71 games, according to network sources.
Programs around the games — Access SportsNet pre- and post-game, for example — also average more than 8,000 more viewers than last season.
So what gives?
The thing that has remained a non-negotiable part of the Spectrum SportsNet telecast for all of those in front of and behind the camera is a standard mode of operation established by Chick Hearn.
During a Hall of Fame broadcasting run with the franchise from the early 1960s right up until his passing in 2002, Hearn may have provided his own brand of Showtime behind the mic, but truth-telling was at the core through words, pictures and actions.
“There may not be a million people watching games on a night-to-night basis,” Bill Macdonald, the third play-by-play man to do Lakers games since Hearn, said prior to Friday’s broadcast, “but there are millions of people, worldwide, who want to know what’s going on with the team each game. You can’t BS Lakers fans. Chick not only set the standard, but that’s the way it should be done anyway.”
More at this link …

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It’s Out of the Question: There has to be a statute of statue limitations, right?

A bronze statue of Los Angeles Lakers and NBA Hall of Fame player Shaquille O’Neal is unveiled in Star Plaza at Staples Center on Friday. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) More photos at this link.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, a handprint-footprint double-double outside Grauman’s Theatre is what cemented your legacy. A star on the Walk of Fame was another famous footnote, that you could forever walk on sunshine.
But since Staples Center became a staple of our existence at the dawn of this new century, and our athletes have branded immortality and imperiousness to new levels, we’ve been somehow ushered into this Fawning Bronze Age. Commissioning a supersized likeness of a Southern California sports star and literally putting it on a pedestal, daring the local bird population to christen it in its own special way …
It’s classic false-god idolatry stuff, Hollywood style.
You want a jersey retired? Take a number.
This latest erection of a 1,500-pound Shaq The Redeeming Dunker, meticulously hand-crafted and now hoisted and bolted down above the main entrance, is demiurgic and disconcerting.
First, if by this point in the game you do not have a replica of yourself in Star Plaza, were you really a star?
And second, what kind of insurance premiums did AEG pay as potential compensation for pedestrians who might be taken out if this Shaq thing becomes unhinged during the next L.A. earthquake?
More at this link …

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