30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 25: Get back to where you once belonged, or ‘Ben and Eric’s excellent adventure’

You can draw it out on a napkin, or on page 11.

You can draw it out on a napkin, or on page 11.

The book: “I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever”
The authors: Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster
The vital statistics: Grove Press, 342 pages, $16
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

51nyC-V-OmLThe pitch: Here’s where we pull a U-turn on this April roadie.
This one came out just too late for the 2014 review list, and too early to be included in what we like to do for the 2015, but it did get a mention last December when were put together holiday gift ideas.
Because we need for a mental road trip at this point in our journey, and this has been reissued this month in paperback at $16 (from the $24 hardback), we’re calling shotgun.
Plus it beats two top-deck tickets for a game where we would have got stuck in traffic the whole way up and been cursing by the time we hit the parking toll booth.
So, we circle back, because we care about these two Harvard grads — Ben Blatt, a staff writer at Slate whose writing has appeared on Deadspin, and Eric Brewster, a Long Beach native whom we really don’t need to know much else about except that he’s doing this somewhat because he seems bored.
They met at Harvard one day when Brewster was wearing a Dodgers cap.
“You’re a Dodgers’ fan?” Ben asked.
“No, but the sun’s out,” Eric said, ending the conversation.
He’s already won us over.

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 24: Miller’s outpost as a revolutionary union leader

From Baseball American cartoonist Trap (http://www.baseballamerica.com/traps-view/trap-s-view-remembering-marvin-miller-14750/)

From Baseball American cartoonist Paul Trap (http://www.baseballamerica.com/traps-view/trap-s-view-remembering-marvin-miller-14750/)

The book: “Marvin Miller, Baseball Revolutionary”
The author: By Robert F. Burk
The vital statistics: University of Illinois Press, 336 pages, $35
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com

814nwV6IMGLThe pitch: “If Albert Spaulding had been the architect of baseball’s first durable cartel, Babe Ruth had converted the game into a marquee attraction to the masses, Branch Rickey had both pioneered the farm system of talent accumulation and spearheaded management acceptance of racial integration, and Jackie Robinson had changed the literal face of the game …” Burk writes succinctly in the preface.
Then …
“Marvin Miller had been the man who, more than any other individual, had wrenched the national pastime – for better and worse – into a modern industry with modern labor management relations. … On any Mount Rushmore of the sport, unquestionably he belonged.”
Just not in Baseball’s beloved Hall of Fame.
Not yet. And if it happens, not in his lifetime.
So how do we best view, and possibly judge, the man who brought structure, smarts and progress to the game, tipped the balance of power and created something of a mess with all the trappings that come with new fame and personal importance?
Do it with a book like this, one that purposefully explains Miller’s upbringing and experiences, treats him with respect and honesty and, while the author admits to some biases in favor of Miller, explains all sides and ramifications of his actions.
It’s the story of American labor, just on a more public scale, that has most American’s hearts and minds invested in its outcome. It’s believeing, as Miller did, that the MLB players at the time 50 years ago were “the most exploited group of workers I had ever seen—more exploited than the grape pickers of Cesar Chavez.”
Miller_1The dichotomy of Miller’s legacy may be more clearly explained in Chapter 16, called “Lightning Rod,” where the public’s view of Miller could be best illustrated in the way that someone like Bob Costas choose to frame it.
On one hand, upon the 83-year-old Miller’s induction into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, Costas remarked that he had “keen intelligence and unshakeable honesty” and called him “one of the significant figures in baseball history.” He even noted that fans blaming Miller for “every pain-in-the-ass .250 hitter (now) making six million dollars a year” is like “blaming Alexander Graham Bell for call waiting.”
Note, there is no real praise there. Because not long after, Costas used his own book, “Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case For Baseball,” to perhaps market himself as a commission-in-training and to attack Miller. He then appeared with him on Charlie Rose’s show and amped up the argument. Miller accused Costas of towing baseball management’s line, acting unprofessional and not as an impartial journalist. Costas came unglued and accused Miller of being “constitutionally incapable of letting go of the wars he had already fought and won” and claiming Miller “will remain in his encampment, railing at the heretics.”
The public surely sided with Costas. As if Miller really cared.
As the media continues to wrestle with how to shape Miller’s legacy to date, this is a book that will pull things back into a calmer perspective, written “not necessarily” as Miller or his wife, Terry, would have done, but a “biography neither authorized nor ghost-written.” Now that Miller is gone, it’s easier to be impressed with how he did things aside from what he actually did.
Burk, a history professor at Muskingum University in Ohio and author of two books that deal with the relationship of players, owners and the game before and after 1920, puts his  baseball business knowledge to work and has given it a human narrative rather than just a soundbite that many have become accustomed to seeing or hearing. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 23: Gotta hand it to Andy Pafko

On Oct. 1, 1951, the Dodgers' Andy Pafko is greeted by teammate Gil Hodges (14) and a Dodgers' batboy as he scores on his home run in the second inning of the opening game of the National League playoff series against the New York Giants at Ebbets Field. (Associated Press)

On Oct. 1, 1951, the Dodgers’ Andy Pafko is greeted by teammate Gil Hodges (14) and a Dodgers’ batboy as he scores on his home run in the second inning of the opening game of the National League playoff series against the New York Giants at Ebbets Field. (Associated Press)

The book: “Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story”
The author: Joe Niese
The vital statistics: Chippewa River Press, 246 pages, $25
Find it: At Amazon.com, and at the author’s website

71YoH9YIOhLThe pitch: In Roger Kahn’s 1972 classic “The Boys of Summer,” Dodgers short-time left fielder Andy Pafko merited his own chapter entitled “The Sandwich Man,” a brief interlude between pages 262 and 270.
Kahn writes: “Across seventeen major league seasons, Andy Pafko batted .285, hit 213 home runs and fired every throw and ran out each pop fly with the full measure of his strength. Certain athletes who grew up in the Great Depressions played that way, the mongrels of poverty tearing at their calves.”
Pafko debated with Kahn about meriting inclusion in such an important story about a beloved franchise, one that included him as a member for just the second half of the 1951 season and then entire NL champion ’52 campaign before he was sold to the Braves.
“Put me in,” he eventually told Kahn, who chronicled this discussion in the chapter, “but don’t make it a big thing. I never felt I was a Dodger star … Nobody remembers I was a Dodger.”
Maybe that’s because he started with 8 1/2 seasons as a Chicago Cub – where he was a four-time NL All-Star and played on their last World Series team in 1945 – and ended his career with seven more seasons for the Milwaukee Braves, who made “The Kid from Boyceville” virtually a home-town hero. Pafko may have played in four World Series, but it’s the one he won with the Braves in  1957 that capped his run, even if much of it was spent as a mentor to a young outfielder named Henry Aaron.

Oct. 3, 1951: Brooklyn Dodgers left fielder Andy Pafko watches as the ball sails over the wall and drops into the lower deck of seats for New York Giants' Bobby Thomson's three-run homer and so-called "shot heard `round the world,"  in the bottom of the ninth inning of the playoff game at the Polo Grounds in New York. (AP Photo/File)

Oct. 3, 1951: Brooklyn Dodgers left fielder Andy Pafko watches as the ball sails over the wall and drops into the lower deck of seats for New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson’s three-run homer and so-called “shot heard `round the world,” in the bottom of the ninth inning of the playoff game at the Polo Grounds in New York. (AP Photo/File)

As the Dodgers and Giants end their three-game series in whatever they call the ballpark in San Fran-
cisco these days, we bring back a Dodger- Giant moment from 1951: That heart-breaking photo of a helpless Pafko, standing next to the giant left-field corner wall at the Polo Grounds watching Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” sail over his head.
It may be the one Pafko moment that Dodgers fans remember most about him, and it gave Don DeLillo a novella title in “Pafko at the Wall.”
But after discovering all that really made up the injury-prone but well- regarded player in this book by Niese, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and a Chippewa Falls, Wisc., resident (and not the New York Mets pitcher, whose name is Jon), that photo from the third game of the 1951 National League playoff needs a longer caption.

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Weekly media notes version 04.24.15: On Bill Roth, Pete Rose, Jamie Horowitz, Steve Byrnes and ‘Life in a Walk’

What will post on Sunday:
New UCLA radio football and basketball play-by-play man Bill Roth says he still hasn’t submitted a formal resume to the school’s athletic department to apply for an opening that was given to him officially on Wednesday.
He really doesn’t need to dig up additional paperwork. His own website has pretty much all UCLA needed to know before agreeing to take him in from Virginia Tech.
So while he met with coaches Steve Alford on Wednesday, and Jim Mora on Thursday, and basketball and football players and other UCLA staffers in between, Roth goes back to Virginia to collect his things and prepare to move out to Southern California this summer and, perhaps, lock down the next 20-something years as the replacement for Chris Roberts.
We’ve got more on Roth aside from the announcement, as well as input from those who know of his work (surely, they are among his 12.5 thousand twitter followers that could use a new handle very soon). A video clip from LANG reporter Jack Wang of Roth talking about his arrival with several media members was posted on Thursday morning (above)

What we decided is worth posting now:

In early 2013, Pete Rose tried to make a TV comeback with a reality show about his life and fiance.

In early 2013, Pete Rose tried to make a TV comeback with a reality show about his life and fiance. It was not a hit.

== Fox Sports officials still aren’t certain when Pete Rose will make his first appearance in their Pico Lot studios to begin his latest media rehabilitation process, but the strange timing of an announcement about his signing last Saturday afternoon with vague details certainly got what Fox wanted — a quick reaction.
“So, yes, hiring Rose is a way for Fox to get the type of publicity that has not come with its hiring of any other studio analyst,” wrote the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir. “Fox’s message is clear: Come watch Pete Rose, the banished superstar who for many years denied gambling on baseball, the ex-con and the career hits leader. Maybe he’ll be outrageous. Maybe he’ll be revelatory. Maybe he’ll say something that will blow his chance at returning to baseball.”
maxresdefaultThe all-time MLB hits leader, who maintains a place in Sherman Oaks, signed a deal to make at least 25 appearances a year on programs including pregame and postgame baseball shows on Fox and Fox Sports 1 and on “Fox Sports Live.” New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that Rose would be allowed to participate in some way during the July 14 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, which Fox will televise.
ddddqdefaultJeremy Schaap, sitting in for Keith Olbermann on “Olbermann” during Monday’s show, noted this “probably isn’t how Rose thought his comeback would play out, sitting in a TV studio dispensing peals of baseball wisdom like some tough-guy Yoda, but you’ve got to start the road to redemption somewhere. … At 74, Rose is a rookie broadcaster … (a man) who was gold for the media for so long. But he also disdained those who made a living in words. When Jim Bouton was pitching for the Astros in 1970, it was Rose who got on the top step of the dugout and greeted the author of ‘Ball Four’ with the admonition: ‘(Blank) you, Shakespeare.’ Which, it could be argued, was a compliment of sorts. I, for one, am eager to welcome Rose to the community of sports TV. It seems only fair that one who provided so much fodder for so long — 50 years — should get his shot on the other side of the camera.”
And how soon they do forget: Rose once had a regular voice on L.A. sports-talk radio, on the SportsFan Radio Network, with Joe McDonnell as his co-host in the mid 1990s on KMAX-FM (107.1).

635651575906768262-022215-Spring-Training0867== Rose, a former Cincinnati Reds manager who got in trouble while in that position for his gambling habits, had to face the media on more than one occasion. Now is when we’d welcome his reaction to what current Reds manager Bryan Price has had to endure in the media following his F-bomb riddled response to reporters’ questions before last Monday’s game  (think: Tommy Lasorda’s opinion about Dave Kingman’s performance).
Here’s a report on what led to the five-plus minute tyrade from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecranz, with more analysis by the Washington Post on how Price might want to make some adjustments to living in today’s media world of instant reporting.

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Surprise: UCLA decides to go with Bill Roth, longtime Virginia Tech voice, as new radio play-by-play man

Bill Roth, right, with former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden at Wooden's Encino home. (Photo from www.billroth.us)

Bill Roth, right, with former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden at Wooden’s Encino home. “Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Coach Wooden,” Roth said. “The experience was second to none, and little did I know that a few years later, I would have the privilege of getting behind the microphone for the team he so dearly loved.” (Photo from www.billroth.us)

Bill Roth, who spent the last 27 seasons calling football and basketball at Virginia Tech, emerged as the new hiring for UCLA’s radio voice position, the school announced Wednesday morning.
The Pittsburgh native and Syracuse University graduate (Class of ’87) comes with the endorsement of IMG College, the North Carolina-based company that has the multimedia rights for UCLA, as well as Virginia Tech.
Roth replaces Chris Roberts, who called Bruins football and basketball on the radio for the previous 23 seasons.
“I am tremendously grateful, honored and humbled to be named the new ‘Voice of the Bruins,’” said Roth in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for the UCLA tradition, having grown up sitting in front of the television in awe of national broadcasts featuring UCLA teams playing at historic venues like Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl. …
“Words cannot express how excited I am to be joining the Bruin family.  To be part of college sports’ most accomplished athletic program is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I cannot wait to be part of the next chapter of UCLA’s storied history.”
In a statement released through Virginia Tech, Roth said it “has been such an incredibly difficult and emotional decision to leave. I love Virginia Tech … We’ve been through so much together …
“Professionally, this is a phenomenal opportunity to work at another prestigious and championship-level program. … I am extremely excited about the challenge to work in the nation’s second-largest media market and to live in a true global city, Los Angeles. Personally, I have a dozen family members who live within an hour of Pauley Pavilion. I’m eager to see them on a consistent basis. Being close to my family was a major part of this decision.”
Roth, who arrived at Virginia Tech at age 22 and a year removed from Syracuse, will remain at Virginia Tech to call its spring football game on Saturday. UCLA also has its “spring showcase” game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
His first game will be when UCLA opens its football season at the Rose Bowl against the University of Virginia on Sept. 5.

Marv Albert, left, poses with Bill Roth during a Virginia Broadcaster of the Year presentation.

Marv Albert, left, poses with Bill Roth during a Virginia Broadcaster of the Year presentation.

“It’s not every day that you’re able to add a Hall-of-Famer to your program,” said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, a reference to Roth’s membership in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Syracuse’s famous WAER Hall of Fame.
“Bill is as accomplished of a broadcaster as there is in this country, and we could not be more excited to have him put his stamp on UCLA games. I know our fans will appreciate Bill’s unique ability to paint a picture of the action with his words and, when everything is said and done, expect that Bill will more than live up to the legacy set forth by the many great UCLA broadcasters that have come before.”

Said Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock: “While we are certainly sad to see Bill depart from Virginia Tech, we are sincerely happy for him and his family for this new opportunity. Bill forever will be a Hokie, no matter where he works, and we thank him for his tremendous service, professionalism and friendship. He has been such a beloved part of the brand and the fabric of Virginia Tech. He will certainly be missed. We will honor Bill and his 27 years of service by creating an endowed scholarship in his name.”
Roth is also an 11-time Virginia Sportscaster of the Year, as voted on by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. He has also called games for the Richmond Braves (the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate) and ESPN on NCAA baseball, lacrosse and kickboxing.
Roberts called his last game for UCLA on March 27, the Bruins’ loss to Gonzaga in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Sources had indicated that front-runners for his replacement were San Diego Chargers’ play-by-play man Josh Lewin and former Fox NFL and Bruins defensive back Ron Pitts.

More:
== A sampling of Bill Roth’s work at www.billroth.us

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