30 baseball books for April, ’17, Day 30: This dad has baseball’s back … for his kids and everyone else’s

That’s Ella Turner on the left (wearing the Strasburg shirt) and sister Nora (with the Wilson Ramos shirt), right, at a Nationals-Dodgers NLDS Game 1 at Nationals Park last season. The poster is in reference to Ramos’ nickname, Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of Michael Turner)


The book: “Baseball Is Back”
The author: Michael Turner
The vital statistics: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 28 pages, $12.99, released Feb. 10.
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble

The pitch: Yup, this should have come at the very front of the collection of this year’s reviews.
The perfect title. The perfect tone.
The perfect backstory.
Turner, who grew up in Southern California and graduated from North Hollywood High, knows what it’s like to be away from baseball.
As a Naval officer from 1999-2004, then joining the foreign service, he has been in the international affairs field for more than 17 years, also living in Italy, Bahrain, Indonesia, Colombia and Vietnam. Washington, D.C., is his current home base, just 10 minutes from Nationals Park.
All those years sitting in the left-field bleachers when he could look over Dusty Baker’s shoulder at the games in the 1970s never left him. Now he watches Baker manage his home-town team, with former teammate Davey Lopes coaching first base.
Turner said he saw a need for a book like this for his two daughters, Ella (10) and Nora (9), with son Patrick (3) on the way up.
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April, ’17, Day 30: This dad has baseball’s back … for his kids and everyone else’s” »

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Sunday media: Who pays the price when ESPN overpays for sports? (Hint: You, then …)

“I heard it was coming like everyone and because what’s going on with our shows now, as we’re building it, I did feel somewhat safe,” Jeremy Schaap, who has spent about half his life at ESPN, a fixture on programming like the journalism-based “E60” and “Outside The Lines,” was telling us the other day.
“When you realize that if these guys are expendable, those women are expendable, then we all are in some way, right?”
Sorry if the “E” in ESPN now seems to represents “Expendables” or “Ex-Employees.” There’s no entertainment value in that.
Our educated explanation for why ESPN needed to downsize days before another stockholders’ earning share report and the trickle down effect it could have as it tries to reconfigure a new game plan.

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It’s Out of the Question: How does Rolling Hills Country Club stay the course to make good on a Pac-12 promise?

One of the benefits of the Rolling Hills Country Club’s location is the views it gets of downtown L.A. and beyond from its bluff. This hole shows that view, but the course has been completely redesigned to have the new clubhouse get that view as well.

Pardon our dust, but …
What if we told you there’s about 160 acres of prime Southern California real estate undergoing a major overhaul, with the high-leveraged intent of planting a championship golf course drawn up by one of the hottest designers in the world these days, and very few know it’s even happening?
And despite the fact that at this moment it looks more like a Fred Flintstone rock quarry and could be a pain in the grass to keep it on schedule, the Pac 12 Conference has already committed to stage its men’s championship there a year from now?
Is that a Phi Beta Kappa move, for either party?
“All the infrastructure and grading is done and we control our own destiny at this point,” said Rolling Hills Country Club general manager Greg Sullivan after a golf-cart whip-around tour of what is still in the creation process on a bluff overlooking Pacific Coast Highway to one of the most gorgeous panoramic views of L.A. and beyond.
“The only issue at this point: Will it be open to play on Sept. 15 or 30?”
Or face more delays?
More on this at this link….

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30 baseball books in April, ’17: Day 29: Dodgers … Reds … 1970s … what’s to forget?

Imagine Pete Rose and Steve Garvey talking about their on-field Reds-Dodgers battles? It happened here in 2016.

The book: “Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue: Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Rivalry”
The author: Tom Van Riper
The vital statistics: Rowman & Littlefield, 208 pages, $38, released April 16
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website.

The pitch: The premise is flawed.
Seven straight seasons — a glorious stretch from 1972 to ’78 — it was either Sparky Anderson’s Reds or the Walter Alston/Tommy Lasorda Dodgers punching their way through the NL West to gain one of the then-four precious playoff spots. The Reds won four of the seven, but never easily. In six of the seven, either the Dodgers or Reds ended up as the NL rep in the World Series.
There would be years when the Dodgers would win 95 games and miss the playoffs (the Reds won 99 in 1973), or the Reds would win 98 and miss it (the Dodgers won 102 in ’74).
The combined rosters could have made up half the NL All-Star team each July.
There were NL MVPs aplenty.
So how is that forgotten? Maybe for those who have a short memory or a 21st Century birth certificate and never bothered to ask>
Of course, the NL West at that time was a big geographical mess. The Dodgers and Reds should never have been gathered in that Group of Death – Cincinnati and Atlanta should have been in the NL East, with the Cubs and Cardinals shifted to the West, but that’s a whole other political issue – perhaps worth exploring in a book like this.
Continue reading “30 baseball books in April, ’17: Day 29: Dodgers … Reds … 1970s … what’s to forget?” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 28: How Tabitha Soren (*yes, that Tabitha Soren) has baseball’s ‘Moneyball’ money shots

The book: “Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream”
The author: Photographs by Tabitha Soren; text by Dave Eggers
The vital statistics: Aperture publications, 136 pages, $45, released on April 1
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website,  or the writers’ website

The pitch: First things first — If you’ve got time Saturday at 4:30 p.m., jog over to Culver City’s Arcana: Books on the Arts (8675 Wash-
ington Blvd.) to join Soren for an artist talk and Q&A about her work.
Aside from not being disappointed from that invested time, you’ll get a chance to browse perhaps the coolest art-book stores in SoCal that even has its own baseball section.
But first, some background.
This 15-year photo  project began when Soren started shooting the Class of 2002 Oakland A’s minor leaguers as they came to spring training straight out of high school and college. She had something of a vested interest: Her husband is Michael Lewis, author of the acclaimed book on the A’s called “Moneyball.”
He wrote about the way the team was assembled. She, admitting to knowing little to nothing about baseball, could document how their careers did or didn’t pan out. And do it in a very artsy way that really has no precedent.
In a previous life, Soren was the MTV political reporter in the mid-’90s and worked at NBC News, but she saw an opportunity to reinvent. Photography, and the art of making pictures, captivated her interest enough to where she went old-school with the platform and development of photos.
As it turned out, these young A’s players included pitcher Joe Blanton and players Nick Swisher and Mark Teahen, who logged double-digit years in the MLB and earned quite a few million dollars for it. But the book also contains photos of other baseball-related occurances that captured Soren’s eye along the way, and they get inclusion as well (such as a shot of that 2013 brawl former Dodgers coach Mark McGwire got into with Arizona manager Kirk Gibson and coach Matt Williams at Dodger Stadium).
The book also includes a five-part mini-novel by Eggers about a Kansa City Royals-drafted infielder named Giovonni “Gee” Fillipacci, who went 1-for-9 with a triple in the only two big-league games he got to plain, ultimately for the Dodgers. Just don’t look him up. He doesn’t exist. It’s a composite of what happens to players who chase their dreams and get into the eye of this “fantasy life” before it spits them back out.

From tabithasoren.com

In recent interviews with Andy and Brian Kamenetzky on their ESPNLA podcast, with Joe Posnanski from MLB.com,  with Jeremy Schaap for his ESPN Radio podcast and also with Sarah Spain at ESPNw.com, Soren’s step-by-step process is laid out as to what she was trying to achieve and by what methods — and turns out many striking photographs that definitely are not what you’d expect from mainstream shooters.
This gives us the opportunity to take a few broader strokes to see what Soren, 49 and mother of three kids in the Bay Area who still isn’t sure what she knows or doesn’t know about baseball, thinks about other things at it relates to the medium as an art form:

Q: I saw this photo on your website and was fascinated by how you’ve managed to give what is otherwise a classic photo of Sandy Koufax an entirely new perspective, based on this technique you used. Can you explain how you do this, as you did to several other photos in the book?
A: You know that’s Sandy Koufax? I have no idea how you know that.
Q: It’s the number 32, for one, and the classic motion …
A: The motion? Really?
Q: It’s him in mid-pitch taking his arm back to that extreme stretch and bending his back.
A: Wow … That’s cool.
So, this is called a tintype. I was doing research about baseball and looking at a book on Eadweard Muybridge who did a lot of motion studies on horses and runners and there was this whole series on baseball players. They are naked and swinging and hitting and he’s studying what their bodies are doing. But then on the next page there were a series of players did when they made an error. I’m not sure what the comparisons were. So the first recorded baseball contat was in 1846… But it also mentioned that Adolphe-Alexandre Martin was making tintype pictures in France in 1853.  When I saw that, a light bulb went off in my head: This would be a great way to have action shots that look like mine. In art photography, the whole point is not to copy what someone else who came before you but think of some new way to tell a story. I knew the narrative of my story was different but I didn’t want to have action shots that looked like they were from ESPN Magazine or Sports Illustrated. We’ve seen plenty of them and they’re very good, but I don’t know we need more of them in the world. Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 28: How Tabitha Soren (*yes, that Tabitha Soren) has baseball’s ‘Moneyball’ money shots” »

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