How ‘The League of Outsider Baseball’ continues to expand

sammy_t_hughes_big_zpserbavlpq If you’ve not got around to locating “The League of Outsider Baseball” by Gary Joseph Cieradkowski, which we still consider the pick of the bunch from last April’s annual baseball book reviews, please do that.
red_solomon_2_zpso2t9clblThen remind yourself to go to his Infinite Baseball Card website where he continues to post new biographies, the latest on Jake Atz, Red Solomon and Sammy T. Hughes (above).
Last month, Ciederadkowski was awarded the Tony Salin Award from the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary and wrote: “As far as I know there’s no higher recognition a baseball historian, writer or artist can receive than the Salin Award, and I am extremely humbled and proud of this achievement. I’ll post a picture of the award and a bit more about the 2015 ceremony in the near future, so stay tuned.”

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Yup, Jessica Mendoza was that female voice in the ESPN booth Sunday, for those still wondering

FullSizeRenderFor those who watched Sunday’s Dodgers-Cubs game on ESPN from Dodger Stadium and may not have been aware: Yes, that was Jessica Mendoza in the booth, the former U.S. Olympic gold medal softball player out of Stanford and Camarillo High, current mother of two living in Moorpark, and making some history.

Let’s backtrack for those who are a bit late to the party: ESPN has never put a female analyst in the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth before. They’ve been covering the MLB for 35 years.

The spot became open to sit next to play-by-play man Dan Schulman and former Major League Baseball All-Star John Kruk when Curt Schilling, another ex-MLB star pitcher, was suspended for the week by the network for posting a tweet that they deemed inappropriate.

Six days earlier, the network decided to try out Mendoza in the booth, joining play-by-play man Dave O’Brien and analyst Dallas Braden, a former MLB pitcher, on a Monday night ESPN2 telecast of a Cardinals-Diamondbacks game in Phoenix. We broke the story of ESPN having her assigned to Sunday’s game on Thursday.

“She had a terrific telecast on Monday Night Baseball this past week,” said Phil Orlins, the network’s senior coordinating producer of ESPN’s MLB coverage. “And when an opportunity presented itself to join Sunday Night Baseball this weekend, we thought it was a good fit.”

But then, would Mendoza know that as she was making some history, she’d also be part of MLB history as well on Sunday?

635765741104387567-2015-08-30-Jake-ArrietaAs Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta took his no-hitter into the seventh inning, Mendoza was asked what she thought about dugout etiquette in that situation.

“You believe whatever is going to make it work,” she said. “Superstitions are one thing, but when you talk about what’s happening now, you give that pitcher what he needs. If he’s coming up to you and talking, asking questions, yes. But if they’re sitting on the bench, in their head, especially a guy as cognizant as Arrieta … (you leave him alone).”

After Arietta finished off the gem, she remarked: “That last inning exemplified the way he pitched all game long, really utilizing that fastball, the slider, his curveball, but not being predictable as to when he threw them. It would make sense that his last strikeout comes with the slider — a pitch so nasty, so dirty that Don Mattingly even said earlier, this is a pitch, one of the toughest in all of baseball.”

The one bit of controversy on the Dodgers’ side of things happened in the bottom of the third inning, when a hard-hit ball by Kike Hernandez was ruled an error by Cubs second baseman Starling Castro. That could have been the Dodgers’ only hit, but the official scorer thought otherwise. Castro was in front of the one-hopper but it bounced off his glove to his right and he couldn’t retrieve it in time.

After Schulman and Kruk questioned the ruling, Mendoza was not so quick to agree that it was a hit: “If the ball hits off you as you’re in front of it … I don’t know. I was an outfielder. If I’m up at bat, heck yeah, that’s a hit.”

Earlier in the game, Kruk helped give the audience, and Shulman, some context about Mendoza’s playing days by mentioning that the two worked together several years ago on the Women’s College Softball World Series, and U.S. Olympic coach Mike Candrea had “told me she’s probably the greatest hitter in the world, at that time. So when we talk about hitting, go to her first.”

The immediate Twitter reviews of Mendoza’s work were noted. Jesse Spector of The Sporting News wrote:“As it turned out, Mendoza wasn’t just there. She was excellent. For that matter, so were Shulman and Kruk in calling the no-hitter. It was a broadcast for ESPN to be proud of, all around. If the best advice you can get is ‘be yourself,’ everyone lived up to it.” And, yes, some are already sold about Mendoza’s future in this business, this season:

Mendoza, who has had assignments on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” studio show, did booth work for the last College Baseball World Series and is a sideline reporter on MLB and college football, will next work in the booth with O’Brien and Braden on the Orioles-Yankees game from Yankee Stadium on Labor Day Monday (10 a.m., ESPN).

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Play It Forward: Aug. 31-Sept. 6 — How much labor is involved in UCLA, USC college football openers?


Josh Rosen (

Josh Rosen (

Details/TV: At the Rose Bowl, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11

Cody Kessler.

Cody Kessler. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

Details/TV: At the Coliseum, Saturday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

college-football-mapFor starters, this L.A.-based opening doubleheader may not set the rest of the college football nation into a frenzy as much as Jim Harbaugh’s khaki-optional debut with Michigan at the home of Pac-12 contender Utah (Thursday, 4 p.m., FS1), Texas’ visit to Notre Dame (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 4) or Wisconsin getting cheesy with Alabama in Arlington, Tex., for the only matchup of ranked teams (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7).
SOSTMFFTPKCYWTR.20130818224619Both USC and UCLA have debuted into the Top 15 of most pre-season polls by having, on paper, formidable branding, a nice color scheme and a roster built to entertain. Yet, do Trojans fans even know the nickname for this Arkansas State team from the Sun Belt Conference that presumably will arrive via swamp buggy in time for the kickoff on a channel that still not everyone has? Do they care? The Red Wolves — there you go — are a 31-point underdog according to early Vegas calculations, and the game has an over/under of 69.5 points. Meaning a 50-19 USC decision is how it should play out. It’s just a matter of how much QB Cody Kessler is given an opportunity to tie his single-game school record with 7 TD passes and take some heat off coach Steve Sarkisian.
cavHorseback1024Earlier in the day, we get to compare the heat index in Pasadena to what kind of warmth Josh Rosen will generate as Jim Mora’s new quarterback. Brady Quinn, the former Notre Dame QB who’ll call this TV game, said he expects Virginia defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to “pressure the crap” out of Rosen “because that’s been his blueprint – he likes to see how a new quarterback takes a hit and stays in the pocket.”  The visiting ‘Hoos (as they are called), 5-7 a year ago, nearly upset the then-No. 7 Bruins in the 2014 opener. UCLA squeezed out a 28-20 win thanks to its defense. UCLA, ranked No. 7 to start 2014, squeezed out a 28-20 win at Virginia in last year’s opener thanks to the defense.
But, hey, it’s early. That’s about the best thing we can saw at this point about Week 1.

Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Monday-Wednesday, SportsNet L.A.:
1293573_8464776_pmMark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News wrote after the Giants won two of three against the Cubs last week: “I can now exclusively reveal the Giants’ three-step plan to come back and win the division to reach the playoffs: 1. Hang in there. 2. Wait for the Dodgers to show up on the schedule. 3. Pounce.” It has worked so far. The pitching rotations have been modified a bit since the Giants took two of three at Dodger Stadium during a June 19-21 stretch — the Dodgers’ Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias absorbed the losses on the mound — and more could happen when the rosters are allowed to expand to 40 players on Tuesday. With Hunter Pence and Joe Panik injured, the Giants refuse to panic, using Marlon Byrd and Kelby Tomlinson as able bodies. As they line up, the Dodgers’ have Zack Greinke (14-3, 1.61) on Tuesday against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (16-6, with a 5-0 mark in five August starts that included 53Ks and just four walks).  Clayton Kershaw, 0-2 in three starts against the Giants with an ERA more than one-run higher than he is against the rest of the league, goes Wednesday. The teams also have four more to play in San Francisco – where the Dodgers are 0-6 this season – on Sept. 28-Oct. 1.
All games at 7:10 p.m.


Serena Williams’ journey toward a Grand Slam has our attention as the 135th U.S. Open starts Monday at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on ESPN and ESPN2 …  The NFL exhibition season ends with all 32 teams playing on Thursday, including Oakland at Seattle (7 p.m., Channel 5) and San Diego at San Francisco (7 p.m., Channel 2) … The Dodgers’ week ends with four games in San Diego, while the Angels have three in Oakland before hosting Texas for three in Anaheim on the weekend … Read more at this link.

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How Vin Scully told everyone he’s coming back for 2016

Vin Scully responds to the Dodger Stadium crowd after it was announced he will return to broadcast for the team next season, which will be his 67th with the franchise. (Photo: Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.)

Vin Scully responds to the Dodger Stadium crowd after it was announced he will return to broadcast for the team next season, which will be his 67th with the franchise. (Photo: Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.)

After the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw struck out the Cubs’ Miguel Montero to end the top of the second inning Friday night, the SportsNet L.A. telecast did not break to commercial as usual.

It went to the Dodger Stadium message board in left field where Magic Johnson announced to the crowd that “we have big breaking news to share with you.”

KimmelRenderComedian/correspondent Jimmy Kimmel then appeared with a set of large white cue cards that he showed and dropped to the ground. The gist of it:
“Vin will be back!
(For one more year)
(at least)
God bless us everyone.”

The booth camera then showed Vin Scully in his familiar position as he stood and clapped to the loud speaker playing “Dancing in the Street.” Scully waved to the crowd ovation. The last camera shot was of Johnson sitting in the owners box next to the Dodgers dugout.

“Our thanks to Dodgers management for breaking the news, if you want to call it news, that, God willing, we’ll all be back here next year,” Scully said once he was back on the air. “God willing. Anyway bottom of the second inning and the Dodgers ….”

As we wrote last week, rumors of Scully announcing his retirement had circulated only because it had taken longer than in the recent past for him to announce his intention.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon went to the press box before Friday’s game to meet with Scully and get a photo taken with him, then tweeted it out with the caption: “Because who ISN’T a Vin Scully fan.”

Maddon told reporters before the game about the Scully visit – “I ascended to another level of humanity,” he said – and then divulged that Scully had told him about the decision.

“He’ll announce it tonight,” Maddon said. “I was happy about what he said.”

Somehow, that got lost in translation.

According to one tweet, the Boston Red Sox radio team of Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien reportedly said that “Joe Madden in L.A. says Vin Scully is set to announce his retirement tonight after 65 years with the Dodgers.”

Dodgers officials, who denied knowing that a Scully announcement was coming, issued a press release during the game that quoted Scully: “I talked it over with my wife, Sandi, and my family and we’ve decided to do it again in 2016. There’s no place like home and Dodger Stadium and we look forward to being a part of it with all of our friends.”

Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten added:  “Vin is a national treasure and the Dodgers couldn’t be happier to have him back at the microphone in 2016. Vin makes every broadcast special and generation after generation of Dodger fans have been blessed to be able to listen to him create his poetic magic since 1950. We look forward to adding many new chapters to that legacy in 2016.”


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It’s Out of the Question: Mixing messages a tougher thing to wash down for USC, Sark

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Is Steve Sarkisian the “Next Pete Carroll or the Next Lane Kiffin”?
That was the headline on a piece — way, way, way back on Aug. 17.
Before all the fog started rolling in.
The current USC football coach, who could either commandeer this ship on a course that Carroll once navigated at its highest tide or end up looking like Gilligan Kiffin on a three-hour tour, apparently has reached a critical juncture in just his second year at the helm.
It’s somewhat a tipping point that has nothing to do with using Cutty Sark to wash down some physician-prescribed performance enhancing drug.
Sarkisian has said “the moral to the story” concerning a recent public appearance where he did not come off too well is “when you mix meds with alcohol, sometimes you say or do things you regret.”
When you mix messages with your under-aged players – do as I say, not as I do – we remember a line from Hemingway: “About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
Only Sarkisian really knows how bad things are internally. Externally, in public view, this an imperfect storm converging.

More of this column at this link ...

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