30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 14: Is Kershaw vs. Greinke tonight … No. 5 vs. No. 51 on the Dodgers’ all-time greatest players list?

Whatever happened to this No. 19 greatest player in Dodger franchise history? Oh, he’s on the Atlanta Braves DL at the moment … and the Dodgers are still paying $3.5 million of his salary to stay away. At age 32.

The book: “The 50 Greatest Players in Dodgers History”
The author: Robert W. Cohen
The vital statistics: Blue River Press, 416 pages, $24.95, released March 1
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: Fine, we’ll take the bait.
Who do you got who where, why and how come?
OK …
Interesting, but …
For real?
Cohen, who already cranked out a book for this publishing company on the 50 greatest Yankees, Cubs, Tigers, Cardinals, Giants, and Red Sox over the last few years has dodged the Brooklyn-Los Angeles roster long enough.
He has somewhat logical criteria for how he has assembled the lists: Career accomplishments, weighted stats, contributions to the team, limited to what they did only while in a Dodgers uniform, and only those after 1900.
Still …
Common sense would seem to be what’s most overlooked.
Off the top of our head, the top five should be not too difficult to pick out, in whatever order you choose. If you were to simply go by the research put into a list by The Sporting News in 1999 listing the Top 100 players to that point, then you’ve got Sandy Koufax (No. 26), Jackie Robinson (No. 44), Roy Campanella (No. 50) and Duke Snider (No. 84). Except Cohen flips Campanella and Snider in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots on his list, without any sort of explanation, even as he credits Campy with “generally considered to be one of the greatest catchers in baseball history.”
No. 5, by the way, is Clayton Kershaw.
Already?
Already.
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 14: Is Kershaw vs. Greinke tonight … No. 5 vs. No. 51 on the Dodgers’ all-time greatest players list?” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 13: Another at bat for Casey Stengel

The book: “Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character”
The author: Marty Appel
The vital statistics: Doubleday, 432 pages, $27.95, released March 28, 2017
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website, or the writers’ website

The pitch: On Sept. 15, 1975, Casey Stengel wasn’t feeling well and checked in to the local Glendale Memorial Hospital, a short drive from his longtime home he shared with his wife, Edna, at 1663 Grandview Ave.
He wouldn’t return home. Cancer had spread too much in his abdomen and at 85 he couldn’t handle surgery.
“During his hospital stay,” as Appel writes on page 353, “he did what he always did – he followed baseball.”
That meant watching the NBC Game of the Week, Pittsburgh at St. Louis, with Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek, Stengel’s former Yankees shortstop, calling it.
“In those days, the playing of the national anthem was part of the telecast – unlike today … Knowing the ritual well, Casey decided to rise from his bed and stand for the anthem. ‘I might as well do this one last time,’ he said, as he stood barefooted in a hospital gown (open in the back), with his hands over his heart.”
That would seem to be in character with Stengel, eh?
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 13: Another at bat for Casey Stengel” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 12: Memories of Bill Seinsoth

The Arcadia Tribune front page has news of the tragic death of Bill Seinsoth in Sept., 1969.

The book: “Seinsoth: The Rough and Tumble Life of a Dodger”
The author: Steven K. Wagner
The vital statistics: Sunbury Press, 200 pages, $29.95, released Nov. 30, 2016
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: “If Bill Seinsoth had lived,” USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux once said, “there’s a good chance that no one would have ever heard of Steve Garvey.”
Wagner included that quote in a 1991 piece he did for the L.A. Times on the life and times of Seinsoth under the headline, “They’re Left to Wonder What Might Have Been.”
As the Dodgers looked for a first baseman in the early ‘70s to replace Wes Parker, Seinsoth was in the pipeline, the kid from Arcadia High who had one year in at single-A Bakersfield with a bright future.
The 1968 College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a junior at USC, a career. 340 hitter in college with All-American credentials, was 22 when he died in a car accident on Interstate 15 while he was driving to L.A. from Las Vegas.
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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 11: A life saver, it is

The book: “Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me”
The author: Stacey May Fowles
The vital statistics: McClelland & Stewart, 304 pages, $18, released today, April 11
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website, or the writers’ website

The pitch: Our first encounter with Ms Fowles was through an essay posted on the Toronto Globe and Mail, a beautiful piece that resonated with us about how one can go and sit in a stadium full of people and still find solitude.
“Over the last year I’ve faced a great deal of uncertainty and doubt. I’ve been scared and anxious, worried about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and where it will take me. I’ve felt unsure, and perhaps I’ve made the mistake of looking outside myself, and of comparing myself to others, to find the answers. If only for an afternoon, I needed to go ahead and buy a single ticket and remind myself that maybe I already have all the answers I need.
“And as always, the ballpark generously reassured me. Baseball, it is said, means you’re never alone, but it also teaches you that it’s okay to be all by yourself.”
With surprise and a reassurance there was karma out there somewhere, we came across that full essay in this book, a compilation of her work that proves Fowles is wise beyond her years, for someone who isn’t even 40 yet but has written four books prior to this.
She continues to find baseball as a place of solace as she works on ways to deal with PTSD, anxiety, depression and all sorts of physiological issues related to issues that she can best explain.
Baseball is her ultimate therapeutic journey toward feeling like a normal human being again.
We are so with you on this.
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 11: A life saver, it is” »

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30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 10: The way the Cubs came to be World Series champs, with a championship author

Tom Verducci, always at work. (Photo by New Jersey Monthly with this 2010 profile)

The book: “The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse”
The author: Tom Verducci
The vital statistics: Crown Archetype/Penguin Random House, 384 pages, $28, released March 28
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website

The pitch: In the editors’ notes from the Sports Illustrated March 27 MLB preview issue, Fox Sports and MLB Network reporter/writer Ken Rosenthal is quoted about Tom Verducci: “He’s the best baseball writer ever, and I honestly don’t think there’s a close second. What he does actually amazes me on a fairly consistent basis.”
As much as Verducci filled that particular issue of SI with all his knowledge and prose, he did even more in this no-words-wasted and timely account of not just how the Cubs came out breaking the curse and winning the 2016 World Series — including coming back to topple the Dodgers in the NLCS — but why it happened with the groundwork laid years before it.
It’s phenomenal to think how short a window of time Verducci had to turn this around from the last out of Game 7 on Nov. 2 to then pounding it out, having it edited, then printed and distributed before Opening Day less than five months later.
Verducci explains in the acknowledgments that there’s something of “The Bernoulli effect” in action here: That is, scientifically, something that explains an increase in the speed of a fluid that occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure in the fluid’s potential energy. What ends up here is a fluid account, even as it connects recent past to current celebration, and also comes without fluff and full of photos.
Continue reading “30 baseball books for April ’17, Day 10: The way the Cubs came to be World Series champs, with a championship author” »

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