The pitch: Don Mattingly saw Ed Lucas check his watch, and the Yankees first baseman couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Eddie, how the heck can you tell time with a wrist watch?” Mattingly yelled over to Lucas, who had been in the Yankees locker room doing an interview with Dave Winfield.
“It probably doesn’t even work,” Mattingly continued. “”C’mon, you probably just wear it for show.”
Lucas took the watch off and handed it to Mattingly. But Mattingly couldn’t figure it out.
“He could see the Braille on the inside of the glass,” Lucas writes on page 219 of his autobiography, “but didn’t realize there was a secret button to push to flip the glass up. He spent the next three minutes feeling the face on the watch again and again as several players looked on with curiosity.
“Finally, he gave up. Mattingly handed the watch back to me and said, ‘Eddie, I don’t know how you do it, pal. You can feel those bumps through the glass and I can’t. That’s amazing.’
“‘Well, Don,’ I replied with a grin, ‘some guys can hit curve balls, some can’t. Some guys can feel Braille through glass, come can’t. We’ve both got our talents.’”
As Lucas left the room with his escort, he turned to Mattingly and called out his name.
“As soon as I had his attention, I held my wrist up, pushed a button and revealed the secret of the watch (the trip that lifted the glass face open so that he could feel the watch’s bumps).
“Other players roared with laughter. I had to run out the door to avoid the barrage of towels the freshly pranked Mattingly good-naturedly tossed in my direction.”
Lucas’ story of not just surviving but actually making a mark as a sightless reporter working for newspapers and the Yankees’ YES Network has come to print in this book as he celebrated his 60th straight Opening Day at Yankee Stadium covering the team. Continue reading →
The pitch: It’s a flawed premise, expecting us to read and absorb more than 500 pages on the life and times of anybody — particularly someone who really we developed a low opinion for and didn’t think it wise to invest the time in that person now because there was thinking it could change our attitude about him amidst what appears to be another campaign to get him into the Hall of Fame. But then we read the Marvin Miller book and felt that was time well invested.
We’re struggling with that logic now as we turn the page to Billy Martin.
Let’s get to know him. Again. Even if you haven’t read his previous two autobiographies, or the half dozen books done about him already. It’s time to be enlightened.
Pennington gets that, but he had a new take. It’s 25 years since Martin’s death. He still isn’t Hall material, apparently, and, after interviewing everyone still alive who could talk about him, maybe this will raise the shade again.
Except here, we have our guard up.
No matter how many rave reviews have come out about this heavyweight manager by the former Bergen Record reporter who covered the team, we waited until the very end of this month to even pick it up, putting up a fight against it as if it was a miscast marshmallow salesman.
We skipped around the pages. We tried going back to front. We wrestled even with the expanded press release that came with this copy.
Something doesn’t feel right about celebrating this man. Maybe it because of how we saw how he came across in the Glenn Burke autobiography. And how he reacted in the George Brett Pine Tar Game.
We’ve got no use for Billy Martin.
We picked up on two highlights from our hunt-and-peck attempt to find a serviceable entry point: Continue reading →
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: BOXING: MANNY PACQUIAO vs. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. Details/TV: At Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, Saturday at 6 p.m., pay-per-view TV ($99.95 HD): The New York Post’s George Willis wrote this weekend: “Let’s hope Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao wage an epic battle May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Otherwise, the Fight of the Century could be remembered as the Fiasco of the Century. Right now, it’s headed for the latter, leaving boxing fans feeling gouged, and excluded.” Here’s real fiasco: Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel brought Manny Pacquaio onto his show last Wednesday and floated the idea of letting him part of his ring-walk entourage, insisting that he would sing Pacquiao’s recently-recorded song “Lalaban Ako Para Sa Pilipino” (I Will Fight For the Filipino) while inside the ropes waiting for Pacquaio to enter. And if Pacquaio needed more incentive, Kimmel also said he would fight current Mayweather hanger-on Justin Bieber. It was lovely gesture, made more so by watching Kimmel and Pacquiao actually sang “Lalaban Ako” together before a swooning audience. Maybe it was also done for a strategic, karmatic reason. Since Pacquaio made his U.S. national TV talk-show debut on Kimmel’s show back in 2009, he has appeared nine times. And every time he sang a song in an appearance before a fight, he has won, going back to his KO over defending WBO welterweight champ Miguel Cotto. You don’t think Vegas noticed that coincidence? Some sports books say they have seen more money bet on a Pacquaio (57-5-2, 38 KOs), the lone congressional representative of the Sarangani province, since his Kimmel appearance. Still, Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) continues to remain the controversial favorite, just two wins shy of matching Rocky Marciano’s undefeated record of 49-0. Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach insists that won’t happen. “I can assure you Mayweather’s party will end on May 2 and Marciano’s record will remain just that — the record. And Mayweather will forever be known as ‘Mr. 47 and 1.’” Sounds like the possible title of the next song that Pacquaio and Kimmel can go all duet on.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
There’s heightened anxiety for the Clippers playing Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference quarterfinal series against San Antonio on Tuesday at Staples Center …. Bob Baffert’s American Pharoah and Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund are at the top of the betting board for the 141st Kentucky Derby (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Channel 4) … The NFL Draft has moved to Chicago for its weekend cheer-leading festival, starting with the first round on Thursday (5 p.m., ESPN) …. The Ducks have a date with their former goalie Jonas Hiller and the Calgary Flames as the second round of the NHL playoffs begin … More to read at this link.
Freelance Boston-based graphic artist Aaron Hadley Dana has recreated the Pine Tar Game incident with George Brett being restrained. The print is for sale on etsy.com. Artists website: www.aarondana.com
The book: “The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy” The author: Filip Bondy The vital statistics: Scribner, 256 pages, $25 Find it:At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com
The pitch: The book won’t come out until July – schedule for release right before the next anniversary of the incident that took place in 1983 – but this review copy has stuck by us for some time now.
Honestly, we’d been pining for a book about this subject for years.
Factually, and actually, we have a bottle of “liquid pine tar.” It came from the Brett Brothers bat company, included in an order we made to buy a new bamboo bat so we could head to the batting cages and not feel as if we were making some heavy metal music.
With the jar came a pine tar rag (which we also have, but haven’t used either).
To make it clear why this particular pine tar is special, the Bretts decided to attach a sheet to the side of the bottle to explain the “controversial ‘pine tar’ game.”
It goes like this: “The controversy began on July 24, 1983, in Yankee Stadium, when Brett hit a ninth-inning, two-out, two-run homer off Goose Gossage that gave the Royals a 5-4 lead. Moments after crossing the plate and entering the dugout, Brett saw Yankee manager Billy Martin approach home plate umpire Tim McClelland. Later McClelland thrust his arm in the air and signaled that Brett was out for excessive use of pine tar on his bat, nullifying the home run and ending the game. Brett stormed from the dugout in a rage and had to be restrained by teammates and coaches. Despite the protest of Brett and Royals manager Dick Howser, the ruling stood. The next day AL president Lee MacPhail acknowledged Brett had pine tar too high on the bat but overturned McClelland’s decision and reinstated Brett’s homer.”
If only it was that simple. Continue reading →
The book: “I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever” The authors: Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster The vital statistics: Grove Press, 342 pages, $16 Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com
The pitch: Here’s where we pull a U-turn on this April roadie.
This one came out just too late for the 2014 review list, and too early to be included in what we like to do for the 2015, but it did get a mention last December when were put together holiday gift ideas.
Because we need for a mental road trip at this point in our journey, and this has been reissued this month in paperback at $16 (from the $24 hardback), we’re calling shotgun.
Plus it beats two top-deck tickets for a game where we would have got stuck in traffic the whole way up and been cursing by the time we hit the parking toll booth.
So, we circle back, because we care about these two Harvard grads — Ben Blatt, a staff writer at Slate whose writing has appeared on Deadspin, and Eric Brewster, a Long Beach native whom we really don’t need to know much else about except that he’s doing this somewhat because he seems bored.
They met at Harvard one day when Brewster was wearing a Dodgers cap.
“You’re a Dodgers’ fan?” Ben asked.
“No, but the sun’s out,” Eric said, ending the conversation.
He’s already won us over.