It’s Out of the Question: Ignorance is blisters with the Dodgers, Rich Hill, eh?

There’s a learning curve on how to bide one’s time on a disabled list. Rich Hill, thanks to his curveball, is accelerating in this practice at a blistering pace.
Strange, but can anyone put their finger on what exactly is causing this 37-year-old problems continually relying on a high-spin-rate pitch?
When big-league pitchers of a certain age are trying to save their careers, isn’t this where a knuckleball is suggested, not something that will require extra torque and twist – and that’s just Hill trying to stick the landing after he delivers it.
The Dodgers, who remarkably don’t have Dr. Scholl on their payroll or a large tube of Blistex in their medicine cabinent, are apparently asking for any and all remedies.
“I’d love to give him my middle finger,” manager Dave Roberts has said. “There’s a lot of miles left on it.”
Interpret that any way you like.
More from the column linked here…

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 21: More pizzazz for Piazza, in a very weird N.Y. holistic sort of way

The book: “Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star”
The author: Greg W. Prince
The vital statistics: Sports Publishing/Skyhorse, 264 pages, $24.99, released March 14
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website, or the writers’ website

The pitch: In Piazza’s 2013 autobiography, “Long Shot,” which became a New York Times best seller by the time he eventually was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, Mike Piazza explained everything related to Mike Piazza – even if he couldn’t figure out the difference between what was “ironic” and what was a “coincidence.”
Coincidentally, he eventually felt he had to leave the Dodgers (frustrated as well during an ownership change), needed a second chance as a New York Met, shugged off steroid allegations (among other personal accusations) and finally got to look back on is career as one of a successful endeavor.
Curtain call. And another …. OK, done.
The cover of that particular book was careful not to show him wearing any particular team color or logos. It was pensive Mike, pulling the catcher’s mask of in a metaphoric way. Just look into his eyes and see his soul.
So that should, and will be, the definitive Piazza story, unless someone wants to come around in a few years and take a most down-the-middle approach.
This one here isn’t that, not by a long shot.
It starts with the cover shot, Piazza unapologetically in Mets laundry, about the start a home-run trot.
Just look at the subtitles for more clues. We read:
Overdramatic.
Idolization.
Hyperbole.
Cliché-soaked.
Just consider the source.

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 20: Durocher’s good, bad and noteworthy nastiness

The book: “Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son”
The author: By Paul Dickson
The vital statistics: Bloomsbury USA, 368 pages, $28, released March 21
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publisher’s website and at the writers’ website

The pitch: By all accounts, fair or foul, Leo Durocher was baseball’s beast of burden.
As a player, manager, a player-manager, a Hollywood wannabe  and general sweet-and-sour pain in the horse’s ass.
With apologies to Mr. Ed.
It basically says so on his Hall of Fame plaque with the first two word that refer to him as “colorful” and “controversial.
And that’s just finding a label for him as a manager, primarily for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s — minus the year of Jackie Robinson’s debut season of ’47 because, ahem, Durocher was serving a suspension. Which gave him time to pen his own ghostwritten book.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Everything you think you know about Durocher — and if you’re connecting historical dots, it’s not a stretch to put him and Pete Rose in the same sort of baseball social hardnose-to-a-fault category — the esteemed author Paul Dickson gives you so much more, the book is worth reading twice just to see what you may have missed the first time.

Paul Dickson

Like the story about what happened in January, 1976, as Durocher was recovering from heart surgery and a couple years removed from his last big-league managing job in Houston. He had burned so many bridges that any time he was offered a front-office position with a team, there was some hitch involved with who he would have to work with, it usually didn’t happen.
But somehow, a team from the Japanese Pacific League announced it had hired him to manage its squad, a six-figure deal that would make him the highest-paid skipper in the world.
“A disdainful Vin Scully said of the move, ‘It took the U.S. 35 years to get revenge for Pearl Harbor’,” Dickson notes on page 291.
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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 19: Hello, Larry


Part of Chipper Jones’ book promotion tour was a two-part conversation with Bob Ley recently on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.” Because, he could.

The book: “Ballplayer”
The author: Chipper Jones, with Carroll Rogers Walton
The vital statistics: Dutton, 384 pages, $27, released April 4
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: Larry Wayne Jones Jr., really didn’t need to give us his life story.
Especially with the somewhat snobbish title “Ballplayer,” which kind of gives us reason to shug in the same way when we hear a name like “Kid Rock” or “Lady Gaga.”
Could you dumb it down any more for us, whatever your real names might be?
Chipper the Ballplayer, a chip off the old block, is a product of his father, as this book very much explains. Dad wanted his rock-solid kid to be the next Mickey Mantle, so everyone would go gaga.
Ballplayer Jones took his switch hitting talents about as far as one could for someone born to be a baseball player, endured a few troublesome injuries that may have hurt his overall numbers, but not enough to be included in the Hall of Fame starting with his first year of eligibility in 2018.
All the numbers add to a probable first-ballot election based on HOFm, WAR, JAWS, Jpos and whatever other jumbled letters you choose to use. A book like this also doesn’t hurt the cause when you’re trying to get into the voters’ heads.
Already labeled a “best seller” in baseball biographies from Amazon.com, there must be something “there” there.
On a scale of 1-to-Chipper’s No. 10, we’ll log it in at his position on the scorecard: E5.
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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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