One-third through with 30 baseball books for April 15 …

10exIn 2008, author Benjamin Wiker put a book together called “10 Books That Screwed Up The World,” a list that, if updated, would not have included any of the 10 baseball books that we found so far in 2015 to be placed among his choices of Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Darwin’s “Descent of Man,” Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” or Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.”
Although Bouton’s “Ball Four” may have covered all those topics in 1970.
With 10 books down, the final 20 spots for the baseball book review series of 2015 is becoming more difficult to decide on what to include and what to cut.
Looks like a survival of the fittest situation.
For those late to the literary party:
Day 1: “Tommy Lasorda: My Way” by Colin Gunderson
Day 2: “Out At Home: The True Story of Glenn Burke, Baseball’s First Openly Gay Player” by Glenn Burke with Erik Sherman
Day 3: “Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder” by Steven K. Wagner
Day 4: “The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cusine” by Bennett Jacobstein
Day 5: “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out: Second Edition” by Josh Pahigian
Day 6: “100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball” by the staff of “Who’s Who in Baseball” and Douglas B. Lyons
Day 7: “The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life” by Mike Matheny, with Jerry B. Jenkins
Day 8: “Bats, Balls, and Hollywood Stars: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Baseball” by Joe Siegman
Day 9: “A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball” by Jennifer Ring
Day 10: “The Hidden Game of Baseball: A New Edition of the Baseball Classic that Ignited the Sabermetric Revolution” by John Thorn and Pete Palmer

What we have planned to hit on for the next 20 days includes:
== “Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch” by Lew Freedman
== “Picker’s Pocket Guide – Baseball Memorabilia: How to Pick Antiques Like a Pro” by Jeff Figler
== “Joe Black: More Than a Dodger” by Martha Jo Black and Chuck Schoffner
== “Gil Hodges: A Hall of Fame Life” by Mort Zachter
== “I Am Jackie Robinson,” from the series “Ordinary People Change the World” by Brad Meltzer
== “The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII” by John Klima
== ” In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball” by Mark L. Armour and Dan Levitt
==  “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles” by Ed and Christopher Lucas
== “A History of Baseball in 100 Objects” by Josh Leventhal
== “Throw Like A Woman,” by Susan Petrone
== “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” by Bill Pennington
== “Marvin Miller, Baseball Revolutionary” by Robert F. Burk
== “The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes” by Gary Cieradkowski

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How USC’s “Swim With Mike” program keeps those like former UCLA lineman Nick Ekbatani more than just afloat

Former UCLA offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani visits groups to promote the Swim With Mike program that has helped him pursue an MBA at USC.

Former UCLA offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani visits groups to promote the Swim With Mike program that has helped him pursue an MBA at USC.

When you pool your money together, things that once seemed improbable can actually happen.

SmallNickNick Ekbatani, who said he never swam before he lost part of his left leg in horrific a 2012 motorcycle accident, now gets to a training pool at 5 a.m. three times a week to work out with a group of master triathletes. They swim more than 2,500 meters in a session that covers about an hour and 15 minutes.

“It’s brutal,” the 27-year-old former UCLA offensive lineman out of South Torrance High and Harbor College says. “But I love it. These kinds of challenges fire me up.”

Quite a few other things Ekbatani never thought he’d be doing are now part of his daily routine. Pursuing a Masters in Business Administration degree at USC might be at the top of the list for someone who majored in political science as a Bruin and had a goal of becoming a lawyer.

But he’s got two semesters left before he figures out what direction that will point him. The scholarships he has received from USC’s Swim With Mike program, which has its 35th annual swim-a-thon fundraiser on Saturday at the on-campus Uytengsu Aquatics Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., have more than kept him more than just afloat.

“For someone like me who has lost a leg and almost died, this MBA program has given me stability during the most volatile time in my life and I’m so grateful,” said Ekbatani, living in Westwood these days.

“You have to use your gifts and combine them with your passion. I’ve always idealized going to grad school and this is just a serendipitous thing. Literally, this program has saved my life, that’s how I look at it. I have been in the most miserable, depressed places in my life, but this has given me a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m eternally grateful.”

Ekbatani has had more than a dozen surgeries since that accident in Redondo Beach, but endured the miserable moments to connect with the Swim With Mike program in 2013.

The organization has been more proactive in recent years reaching out to scholar athletes who have life-changing physically challenging situations. The growth of it has expanded well beyond USC in the last dozen years to where more than 160 scholarships totaling $14.2 million have been given out since 1981.

Ekbatani is one of 61 benefactors currently with the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship. Only a quarter of them go to USC; the others are part of a nation-wide program to where swim-a-thon fundraising it taking place through the year at places such as the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Arizona, UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii.

350DA1_3669Mike Nyeholt, the three-time USC All-American swimmer in the late ‘70s whose own dirt bike accident left him with a broken neck and little hope to walk again, says stories like Ekbatani continue to push him through his own dark moments.

“He’s an incredible young man and I’m proud to say he’s as big a Trojan now as he was a Bruin before,” said Nyeholt, who, at 58, recently retired as a sales rep at the Capital Group investment company and lives in San Gabriel. “I can’t say enough about all the kids we now have helped. They’re crazy good people.”

Ekbatani says Nyeholt “inspires me so much. He has given me a lot of perspective. I can’t believe how someone in a wheel chair continues to roll on, be so positive. He’s the man.”

Nyeholt’s workout routine includes four trips a week to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Pool to swim with former USC Olympian John Naber.

“It’s absolutely beyond my believe that it has come this far,” said Nyeholt of the program that was initially started by Ron Orr, the current USC associate athletic director and longtime friend of Nyeholt, to help him cover initial medical expenses.

“I rely on this to keep my spirits up. The young men and women we’ve helped remain athletes in their own right. They have drive and perseverance that’s very important, and they want to move forward. As important as the financial assistance is for their academics, it’s important to be surrounded by those who understand their injuries and get caught up in this swim event. I am so proud of them.”

Event: Saturday at the USC Uytengsu Aquatics Center, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., free parking.
Scholarships: Applicants for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarships must have suffered an illness or injury that resulted in a physical disability that substantially limits major life activities; have participated in organized high school or college sports prior; met admissions requirements at selected universities and maintain a 2.5 GPA while enrolled.
Benefactors: Among those who are currently receiving scholarships for their education based on the program include:
= Jorge Mendoza of Los Angeles: A right leg amputee who competed in basketball and volleyball, now attending Cal State L.A. in Exercise Science.
= Jennifer Bou Lahoud of San Dimas: T-10, T-11 spinal injury from a sledding accident who competed in basketball and cycling, now at USC in Physiology and Neuroscience.
= Stephen Wilson of Redondo Beach: A paraplegic after an auto accident who competed in soccer and football, now at USC in Mechanical Engineering.
= Sharon Lee of Glendora: A quadriplegic from a fall off a balcony who competed in cross country, now at the University of La Verne in biology and premed.
= David Rodarte of Downey: A paraplegic after an auto accident who competed in football, soccer, basketball and wrestling, now at Long Beach State getting a masters in Counseling in Higher Education.
= Matt Wesley of St. John, Indiana: A quadriplegic from a football injury, now at Notre Dame studying law.
= Andrew Luk of Walnut: Blind and deaf from a brain tumor who competed in swimming, soccer and baseball, now at UCLA as a political science major.

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 10: By the numbers, there’s not much hide and seek anymore

Dodgers GM Branch Rickey, left, father of the baseball farm system, checks his 18 minor-league teams on his office blackboard with his son, Branch Jr. (Look Magazine Collection, Prints and Photographs Division)

Dodgers GM Branch Rickey, left, father of the baseball farm system, checks his 18 minor-league teams on his office blackboard with his son, Branch Jr. (Look Magazine Collection, Prints and Photographs Division)

The book: “The Hidden Game of Baseball: A New Edition of the Baseball Classic that Ignited the Sabermetric Revolution”
The authors: John Thorn and Pete Palmer
The vital statistics: The University of Chicago Press, 432 pages, $22.50
Find it: At, at, at

HIDDENBOOKThe pitch: This all kind of adds up now.
Even, perhaps, in a world where Charles Barkley still exists and may want to know just why Michael Jordan never made it as a baseball player.
In many ways, we’ve yielded to the notion that a player’s WAR, FIP and UZR are equal to or greater than an RBI, OBP or SLG.
And even more current, Wins Above Replacement has replaced Total Player Rating in the evolution of sabermetrics.
What’s intriguing now in circling back to pour over the thought process behind what Palmer, the stat-man, and Thorn, the history guy, attempted to convey 30 years ago in the original edition that seemed to rock the foundation of seamheads everywhere.
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Media column weekly notes version 04.10.15 — It’s become a quality-of-life decision: Take us out of the choke hold and we’ll take TWC and SportsNet LA, you filthy #$%&@*s

IMG_3198What’s coming up in Sunday’s media column:

Milton Bradley (left) is restrained by teammates Alex Cora (center) and Steve Finley as he shouts at fans after throwing a bottle back at a fan who threw it onto the field at him in 2004.

Milton Bradley (left) is restrained by teammates Alex Cora (center) and Steve Finley as he shouts at fans after throwing a bottle back at a fan who threw it onto the field at him in 2004.

In July 2013, a judge sentenced former Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley to 32 months in prison and a year of domestic violence and anger-management classes after he was found guilty one month earlier on nine counts that included inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon (a baseball bat), criminal threats and brandishing a deadly weapon.
But he remains free pending a second appeal of his conviction. He hasn’t spent a day in jail.
And his former wife, Monique, died last September of strange physical ailments at age 33.
A haunting Sports Illustrated exclusive covering a 10-year period of the Bradley relationship is included in the new April 13 edition, and SI executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim, who co-authored the story with Michael McKnight, explains how the presentation of the “This Is What Domestic Abuse Looks Like” jarring piece came together in a Q-and-A with us.

Former Dodger Milton Bradley is in a Van Nuys Superior Court on July 2, 2013 for sentencing on his convictions on 9 misdemeanor counts steaming from incidents involving his estranged wife. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Former Dodger Milton Bradley is in a Van Nuys Superior Court on July 2, 2013 for sentencing on his convictions on nine misdemeanor counts steaming from incidents involving his estranged wife. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

What’s worth making a note of here and now:

== Full disclosure: We’ve been wavering internally on how to deal with this whole Dodgers-TWC-SportsNet LA-DirecTV disaster from long before Day 1.
We’ve been asked by plenty of readers for advice. We suggested sitting tight and riding it out.
L.A. sues Time Warner Cable over feesWith this story we did for Sunday’s editions on the distribution mess, we weren’t advocating you do anything illegal, just pointing out that some have creatively circumvented the restrictions and found a way to get the SportsNet L.A. feed through other means.
In a depression situation, you survive by whatever means you can.
We won’t say that Adrian Gonzalez’s three-homer game on Wednesday night was the straw that broke open the pack of Camels that we’ve put aside in case we needed to ease our nerves. But our son living in Pittsburgh and daughter in Portland could comfortably watch that same game on ESPN2. It was blacked out here as well as SportsNet L.A.
What it did was reinforce a tentative decision we made last week, just before Opening Day, that our household has resisted the option to switch to TWC long enough.
Our installation date is on April 15. It was scheduled far enough in advance to cancel it if we had second thoughts.
Right now, we don’t have any.
You’ve broken us down.
Send Bill Cowher over ASAP with his tool belt.
Nothing personal, DirecTV. We’re all in favor of protecting those who don’t want their monthly bills gouged an extra $5 just for a channel they don’t necessarily want. I’ve been a strong advocate for a la carte programming, even if the current bundling is less expensive but more expansive. I don’t blame TWC any longer for outbidding Prime Ticket, and others, for the TV rights to the Dodgers. If they weren’t going to pay this exorbitant amount, then try to pass it onto the viewers, someone else was.
We’re just finished with all this foolishness.
horns-of-a-dilemmaBy dumb luck, we have the means and ability and live in an area where we do have a choice, yet we feel the anguish for those who don’t at this moment.
This is a selfish resolution, based on a quality-of-life issue, plain and not-so-simple.
We could keep waiting it out. We’re stubborn. But we’re also tired.
We can at least accept reality that, for now, we’ll bend. But we aren’t breaking the bank to do this. And we reserve the right to switch back if the numbers add up again.
The TWC promotional bundle currently out there actually makes financial sense when we consider that our household has paid for DirecTV as a separate entity, then had another service for phone and internet. The TWC package deal is reasonably less per month, has a stronger internet than our current Verizon provider and we understand we are substituting what has been premium customer service for one with a reputation that makes it one of the worst cable companies on anyone’s list.
But they’ve got the goods. And we’re hungry enough to bite.
Reluctantly. Regrettably. Not resourcefully.
I’m giving up on NFL Sunday Ticket? I haven’t bought it in years. I’m not a fantasy junkie. This doesn’t tap my veins.
I’m gaining SportsNet L.A. and — what do you know? — the Pac-12 Network. I’m keeping HBO and Showtime as well in the deal.
As a sports media writer, it’s not fair in many ways that I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the quality work that many have put into the SportsNet LA programming during its first year. But as a consumer, I can’t justify adding two TV delivery systems.
We listened to the post-game Dodger talk after Opening Day, and the first caller started to complain about the SportsNet LA distribution issue when he was cut off. The hosts decided that wasn’t what their show was going to be focused on. That’s an editorial decision AM-570 can make, but the fact is, at this point, they’re part-owned by the Dodgers. So you could say the team isn’t interested in hearing fan response on their own radio outlet.
What kind of message does that send?
Besides, the greater problem still isn’t being address in this whole situation. Even if SportsNet LA was available on every cable system, only those who pay a monthly cable or dish bill could afford to see it. Those who can’t afford the luxury of a cable or dish service would still be left in a black hole, unable to see any Dodgers game as it was in the prior Prime Ticket/KCAL Channel 9 construction. Think of all those intercity families who are asked to make a choice between food and cable, between rent or a satellite dish.
n0tjcf-b781263813z.120140210222030000ghq1ifsoq.2This is more moral and demoralization corrupt than anything the Dodgers want to admit to being an accessory of in this scenario, and someday, when this smoke clears, that will be the next debate.
You wonder what the citizens of Brooklyn once may have felt when the Dodgers finally did move away. Out of sight, out of mind. Some never recovered. These Dodgers are at a tipping point, and nothing any team executive says at this point (see this “exclusive” with CNBC where Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten laments that the situation) resonates with the customers. Just stop.
And stop using “if you want to hear Vin Scully” as a marketing ploy in this whole hostage situation.
Take off our blindfold, and give us a cup of dirty water. We surrender.
Unless something crazy happens before tax day, we’re going forward with the switch. Why wait’ll next year, as they used to say in Brooklyn, since we’re not even sure that’s going to come.

The Washington Times June 29 1914 Home Editino page 11 - Grantland Rice poem - w wait until next year== Meanwhile, a decent list of places, via KPCC-FM 89.3, that have hooked into Dodgers’ coverage this season. What’s missing? The Dugout in Simi Valley, for one.

== One downtown news organization lets you know that the MLB commish says he’s talked to L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti about the Dodgers’ TV issues. That’s not news to us (see eighth paragraph).

== Ratings for those who need ratings: The Dodgers’ opener had as many watching on TV than in the stadium, unless you were in an unmetered bar or restaurant or dorm room, and you weren’t counted.

== What do you make of this full-page ad taken out in Monday’s edition of the L.A. Daily News’ sports section, about “who owns Vin Scully”?

== Through, you can support a statue build in Scully’s honor, to be created by someone, and placed somewhere, at the cost of who-knows-what. Got any spare change?

== A Q-and-A with the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, via PRI radio.

== Tommy Lasorda signs copies of his new book “My Way,” along with author Colin Gunderson, during a special event at Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Matador Field, prior to the CSUN-UC Santa Barbara baseball game. A game ticket ($8) is necessary for entry, and book copies are for sale at the site. Lasorda also signs his book at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove in L.A. on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 9: It’s something Mo’Ne Davis may want to at least skim before she writes her next chapter

San Marcos pitcher Ghazaleh Sailors, left, and Birmingham High Pitcher Marti Sementelli have the distinct honor of breaking down one of baseball's gender barriers, becoming the first females to start against each other in a high school baseball game. Birmingham Sementelli pitched her way to a 6-1 victory.  (John McCoy/staff photographer)

San Marcos’ Ghazaleh Sailors, left, and Birmingham High’s Marti Sementelli were the first female to start a game on the mound against each other in a high school baseball game. Sementelli pitched her way to a 6-1 victory. (John McCoy/Daily News staff photographer)

The book: “A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball”
The author: Jennifer Ring
The vital statistics: University of Nebraska Press, 353 pages, $29.95
Find it: At, at, at

51WpBmx1arLThe pitch: It was March 5, 2011. For the first time in U.S. history, two high school baseball teams faced off and each had the audacity to have a girl as their starting pitcher – Marti Sementelli for Van Nuys’ Birmingham High, facing Ghazaleh Sailors of San Marcos High.
“It didn’t hurt that the game took place in media-obsessed Los Angeles, between two highly rated large urban schools,” Ring writes in the introduction to this book. “More than a thousand girls in the Untied States play high school baseball on ‘boys teams,’ but the story would not have had such an impact if it had been a game between two small-town schools.”
It didn’t hurt that Sementelli pitched a complete-game 6-1 victory, giving up two hits. Sailors gave up two runs and three hits in her three innings.
“Both girls pitched beautifully,” Ring continues, “but the attitude of the press with whom I sat was the same bewildered astonishment that characterized news stories about girls playing baseball in the early twentieth century and still dominates news coverage of girls who play baseball today.”
Isn’t that right, Mo’Ne Davis?
1D274907243406-today-mone-memoir-inline-141117.blocks_desktop_mediumWhile Davis’ Harper-Collins published biography came out this month – and why not, since the 12-year-old continues to create buzz for her athletic skills that were on display in last summer’s Little League World Series? – this is one that she might want to thumb through to gain a little more perspective for what’s in front of her, if not completely read it if she has the time to plow through these 17 chapters. Sixteen of the pages are on Sementelli, who last season was pitching for NAIA-affiliated Montreat College in North Carolina, but she has now joined the school’s softball team. Sailors was a junior pitcher and second baseman for the University of Maine-Presque Isle and, according to the NCAA, was the only female playing NCAA baseball in 2014.
Ring begins this with the premise that no matter how good they were, “all the girls who grew up” to play on the 2010 USA Baseball Women’s National team “were told to leave baseball at age twelve and to find another sport. Most obliged. A few refused.”
Ring knew this from some degree of experience. Her daughter, Lilly, was a member of that national team in 2006, ’08 and ’10, “but I knew her story couldn’t possibly be unique,” she writes in the preface.
Encouraged to pursue a book that chronicled the lives of 11 players from the U.S. national women’s baseball team from her 2009 project, “Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball,” Ring diligently does it in a methodical approach that, because of its repetitiveness, nearly loses the affect it may have intended.
These aren’t so much inspirational stories about how each female has endured on an otherwise male-only team, and they are often written too simplistic, as if to be included in a Parade magazine story. It’s likely just a product of the author’s inability to take more than just a clinical approach to each story, considering Ring’s expertise is as a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.
It’s not as if these “voices” don’t need to be heard. They do. Including on where else maybe they find their niche in sports, if they don’t want to be defined as a baseball player and might, in the growth process, figure out they’re better in other sports.
01sarahLike the chapter on shortstop Sarah Gascon, the Rancho Palos Verdes native who somewhat in passing mentions she played for the Eastview Little League in San Pedro. Ring never get around to document what high school Gascon attended (Mary Star, as a three-sport star) before she went on to take a volleyball scholarship at Southeastern Louisiana. Gascon currently is trying to stay with the U.S. Olympic handball team.
If the purpose here is to advance the cause of females in baseball, so that the next time two girls face off in a “boy’s baseball game” somewhere in a large, medium or small town it’s not some odd occurrence, that’s very admirable. But it will take a lot better prose to capture and inspire a generation of young readers who may have to soon decide whether they really want to stay on a baseball path from youth sports to high school and beyond, or simply feel they’re worthy enough to pick a different field of expertise and not default that softball is the only option.

== Daily News staff writer Jill Painter’s piece on the 2011 game between Birmingham and San Marcos in 2011. Compare it to one by the L.A. Times’ Bill Plashke.
== A more compelling piece by John Walters piece for Newsweek last year about how “Baseball Can’t Truly Be America’s Pastime Until It Lets Women Play”
== The link to the U.S. National Women’s Baseball team

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