30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 18: How Rick Ankiel came out on the other side of ‘The Monster’

The book: “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips and the Pitch that Changed My Life”
The author: Rick Ankiel with Tim Brown
The vital statistics: Public Affairs Books, 304 pages, $27, released today, April 18
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: One very small part of the Rick Ankiel story that has already circulated and made headlines prior to the book’s publication is how he once drank vodka before a game to calm his nerves.
It’s not quite along the lines of Dock Ellis taking LSD before pitching a no-hitter, but it’s on that same sort of soft sensationalized narrative that takes away from what’s really going on with this self-exploration of a pitcher who once, all of the sudden, in an MLB playoff game, wasn’t able to pitch.
A piece on Ankiel that also aired on HBO’s “Real Sports” got into the drinking aspect as well, but was wise not to make that the main hook. What that HBO piece eventually alluded to was, yes, there’s a book coming out about all this. We’ll just make it look as if we’re really doing all the heavy lifting in this story — interviewing Ankiel’s mom, former Pirates pitcher Steve Blass, etc., — and then it’ll look as if the book is following up on our story.
It’s the complete opposite.
So, Ankiel once was self-medicating and trying to fool his mind into divert attention from the real problem.
The yips.
The thing.
The monster.
“One moment, I was a pitcher,” he writes. “The next, I was a patient. A project. A cautionary tale. A lab rat. A fairly miserable human being … a casualty of the game, of a broken family, of a heartless world, of all that stuff that may or may not have been swirling around in my head.”
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 18: How Rick Ankiel came out on the other side of ‘The Monster’” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 17: Taking stock again in Lyman Bostock

Lyman Bostock joins the Angels and team owner Gene Autry on Nov. 21, 1977.

The book: “Lyman Bostock: The Inspiring Life and Tragic Death of a Ballplayer”
The author: K. Adam Powell
The vital statistics: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 350 pages, pages, $35, released Dec. 9, 2016
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: “Lyman Bostock will never grow old,” Powell writes on page 298.
“He may not have had time to become a Hall of Famer, but he will always be remembered as an elite ballplayer having died during his peak. Age never had a chance to catch up to Lyman. At the same time, how much would anyone give to reverse the past – to stop what happened from happening? To give Lyman a chance to live the long, happy life he deserved?”
That’s assuming an awful lot, but we understand the sentiment.
The details of how and why the Angels outfielder out of South Central L.A. and San Fernando Valley State ended up dead in a car shooting on Sept. 24, 1978, an innocent victim at the intersection of Fifth and Jackson Streets in Gary, Indiana, have been presented over various media platforms in the past 30-some years.
Why we come around to it again, we aren’t completely certain, except for what seems to be a need for Powell, a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina who has been in the sports writing business for 15 years as a freelancer and author of three other books that have focused on college sports, to tell the complete story of Bostock from start to finish.

Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 17: Taking stock again in Lyman Bostock” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 16: Putting in the work, even on a holiday

Rockies Senior VP of scouting and player development Bill Geivett watching as Walt Weiss is introduced as the team’s new manager in Nov. 2012. (The Denver Post)

The book: “Do You Want to Work in Baseball?: Advice to Acquire Employment in MLB and Mentorship in Scouting and Player Development”
The author: By Bill Geivett
The vital statistics: Self published at Book Baby, 354 pages, $24.99,  released Feb. 4
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

The pitch: Easter Sunday might be a day off in the normal business world. But things don’t stop in Major League Baseball. A full slate of 15 games will be played today, and decisions go into that before, during and after.
It’s work.
So maybe a better working title for this book might be: Are you tough enough to want to try to have a career in baseball?
Give Geivett a few moments of your time, and you’ll find out.
After 21 years in the game as a front office executive and scout with both the Dodgers (assistant GM) and Angels, as well working for the Yankees (scout), Expos (farm director), Devil Rays (assistant GM) and a 14-year run with Rockies, in addition to time invested as a college baseball coach at Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount University, Geivett decided to self-publish this guidebook from his home in Arizona where he works now as a baseball and business consultant (office website: www.insidebaseballoperations.com)
He started this project soon after leaving the Rockies as their senior vice president of major league operations in 2014, where he started as the director of player personnel.
As a third-team All-American third baseman at UC Santa Barbara who signed with the Angels and played in their organization from 1985-88 (and also drafted by the Dodgers when he was at Sacramento City College, but he declined to sign), Geivett first saw things from the player side.
But since gaining a masters in education from Azusa Pacific, he has decided it’s worth trying to educate any prospective baseball employee about just what happens, down the minute details and practical applications.
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 16: Putting in the work, even on a holiday” »

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Sunday media: Why ‘Brockmire’ isn’t mired in a one-note, old broadcaster scenario

One recent review of the new IFC series “Brockmire” calls it “must-watch.” Another calls it “one of the year’s best new comedies.”
Hank Azaria’s character as the out-of-touch Jim Brockmire has found a voice in a place maybe viewers never expected after seeing it emerge more than 10 years ago as a four-minute fake documentary on “Funny Or Die” about this “Game Changer” which included “testimonials” from Joe Buck, Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen.
It’s funny, and it hasn’t died.
The eight-episode series running Wednesday nights on the cable channel — Buck will make an appearance in Episode 7 — has already been picked up for a 2018 run, with the shows written with filming to start later this fall.
They’ve created a bobblehead of Brockmire, a limited edition Topps baseball card … and isn’t it strange that Hank Azaria’s signature on a  baseball almost looks like it’s from the former Atlanta Braves’ home-run champion (be carefully of how you scribble).
In addition to the Q-and-A we have online with Azaria, who has moved back to New York after living in Southern California for a 25-year-plus period, we have more here:

Q: With the language and adult situations, does any of this have written consent of Major League Baseball?
A: It does not, but that’s not out of the question. They might. Even if Major League Baseball says you can do something, you still need individual teams to sign off. That’s tougher to get. It varies owner to owner. If the show becomes more popular and everyone gets it and enjoys it. Can you imagine describing this to baseball owners? No. “A foul-mouthed alcoholic completely out of his mind …” But in its way, it’s kind of a love letter to baseball, too. You can feel the love of baseball in it. It’s just got a lot of twisted aspects of it. Continue reading “Sunday media: Why ‘Brockmire’ isn’t mired in a one-note, old broadcaster scenario” »

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It’s Out of the Question: Playing for the name on the front at Amino Jackie Robinson High

Did you know: There is a baseball team at Amino Jackie Robinson Charter High School in L.A., located in an industrial area on Hill Street near Jefferson, about a mile East of the USC campus on the other side of the Harbor Freeway.
It’s record? Winless in seven games so far, last the CIF L.A. Section’s Crosstown-Ocean standings, outscored 102-29.
According to records kept on MaxPreps.com, 16 of those runs scored came in one game, against Bright Star, including three in the bottom of the seventh to tie it up and send it into extra innings. Bright Star then scored nine in the next inning and won, 25-16.
Jackie Robinson High Monarchs (the nickname is the same as the Negro League team in Kansas City in which Robinson played for in 1945) has been on the wrong end of 13-0 and 10-0 games against New Designs University Park, and another 13-0 loss to Amino Venice.
Sixteen kids are on the roster at a school that has just fewer than 600 total students, using a baseball field at South Park Rec Center, a rare green space in the area over on San Pedro and 51st Street that’s a bit of a trip from the campus down the South Figueroa Corridor.
But they’re there because they want to be. Embrace the fact they even offer this program for these teenagers. As it says on the school’s website: “The mission of our athletic programs is to provide students with competitive opportunities in interscholastic sports so that they will learn and demonstrate the life-long values of leadership, sportsmanship, teamwork and integrity.”
That’s a win-win situation. Play for the name on the front on the jersey.
More Saturday questions at this link …


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