30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 21: Fiction isn’t f*$&ing real … it can be better

twain-wallpaperStill wondering how we got sucked into this new feature on ESPN.com that involves make-believe and the ’27 Yankees, we go out the baseline a bit and check out some real, intended baseball fiction:

The book: “Double Switch”
The author: T.T. Monday
The vital statistics: Doubleday, 224 pages, $25.95. Released March 1.
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com
51Zp6zShDPLThe pitch: Back in 2014, Monday (his real name is Nick Taylor) created Johnny Adcock, this bullpen gumshoe who finds there’s plenty of time between appearances to solve mysteries.
The first time it had to do with the death of a teammate. This time, it’s trying to find out what’s behind all the rumors of a new Cuban star who might be way over his head with some bad people. If you’ve followed at all the plight of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, or heard of some of the stories involving other players who’ve escaped the island, it’s not a far-fetched tale.
Just maybe you’re not sure Adcock is the right man for the job. But he does it anyway.
“As soon as I emerge from the tunnel, hear the crack of the bat, and feel the grass under my feet, I realize I was right. This is my life. I may not be Clayton Kershaw, but I am immortal.”
More to know: San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy recommends the read as a Bay Area baseball bucket list requirement …. a review on BloggerNews.net Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 20: No wonder we get sucked into no-nos

At the Baseball Hall of Fame, you can see the mitt that Jeff Torborg used to catch no hitters from both Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. Torborg caught three no-nos in his 10 year career with the Dodgers and Angels. The others in MLB history to catch three no-hitters? There are 15 of them, including Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, one-time Dodger Charles Johnson and current Giant Buster Posey.

At the Baseball Hall of Fame, you can see the mitt that Jeff Torborg used to catch three no hitters: One from Sandy Koufax, one from Nolan Ryan and the third from …. There are 15 others in MLB history who have caught three no-nos, and the list includes Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, one-time Dodger Charles Johnson and current Giant Buster Posey. And the third Torborg no-no reception: Bill Singer.

The book: “Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders: More than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats”
The author: Dirk Lammers
The vital statistics: Unbridled Books, 496 pages, $25.95 (or $18.95 paperback).  Released March 15
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

nohitThe pitch: We’ve never seen a no hitter in person. Neither has the author, he admits.
Nor have we seen one on TV. Or heard one play out on the radio.
Just the very end of a few, after we heard about it in progress.
We find that some broadcasters have issues when speaking of one that’s in progress. We’ve not been real supportive of that philosophy.
So, in review:
See no no-no.
Hear no no-no.
Speak yes no-no.
We thought our streak was going to end as we watched, listened, spoke about, tweeted out and sized up what was happening when Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling dodged base hits in San Francisco in his major league debut not long ago.
You may have heard how it ended — manager Dave Roberts took him out once he reached 100 pitches with one out in the bottom of the eighth. More vital to the equation: Stripling just walked another batter and the tying run was coming to the plate. An even more important piece to the puzzle: Stripling, and his dad, seemed fine with it, considering the comeback from Tommy John surgery and realizing he’d like to pitch more than just this one game.
Lammers, an Associated Press baseball writer, would have been stressing over deadlines and rewrites had he been there to watch it all — the next batter homered, and the game was eventually lost.
Lammers might have also wanted to rewrite this book had that happened to end in a no-no, but that could have been dealt with in future updates.
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 19: Daring Darling to remember Game 7 of the ’86 World Series vs. Game 7 of the ’88 NLCS

Mets pitcher Ron Darling, right, gets some time with first baseman Keith Hernandez during the 1986 World Series Game 7. (Photo: Associated Press)

Mets pitcher Ron Darling, right, gets some time with first baseman Keith Hernandez during the 1986 World Series Game 7. (Photo: Associated Press)

The book: “Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life”
The author: Ron Darling, with Daniel Paisner
The vital statistics: St. Martin’s Press, 256 pages, $25.95. Released April 5
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers website.

51JswpiceVLThe pitch: We written before about the various visits we’ve had with the former Mets All-Star and current SNY and TBS analyst about games he’s pitched.
For the longest time, we were led to believe his crushing Game 7 loss in the 1988 NLCS against the Dodgers was the one that he could never shake.
“It was my total and utter disaster,” he once told us. “I’m haunted by that seven game to this day.”
Darling only made it through 10 batters. He left the contest trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and no one out. Doc Gooden came in and couldn’t help. Darling was charged with six runs (four earned) as Orel Hershiser went on to a complete-game five-hit 6-0 triumph that put the Dodgers in the World Series.
Now, Darling admits that isn’t that only thing that keeps him up at night.
In this book, he’s tearing his heart out with a self-examination about all that transpired during the deciding game of the 1986 World Series, two Octobers earlier.
Maybe it wasn’t so painful because, as the readers know going into this book, Darling wasn’t on the losing end. No spoiler alert: The Mets won the series, the Boston Red Sox lost again.
Darling started Game 7 and gave up three earned runs in the top of the second. Just 18 batters faced in 3 2/3 innings. Two homers allowed. No strikeouts. It was up to relievers Sid Fernandez, Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco try to clean things up long enough for the Mets’ offense to wake up.
“My piss-poor performance,” Darling calls it on page 149.
Since this one delivers a much happier ending, Darling finds it a little more palatable to recount, about how he approached it, what he remembers and doesn’t remember, and lessons learned.
Lessons apparently not applied.
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 18: The fascination is mutual, Kurkjian

71chxTMczdL._SL1414_The book: “I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love”
The author: Tim Kurkjian
The vital statistics: St. Martin’s Press, 256 pages, $26.99. To be released May 3
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website.

51F1uhOrdQLThe pitch: We were fascinated to find out that if you searched Amazon.com for “Tim Kurkjian,” you’ll come across someone insane enough to sell you an authentic batting practice-used Rawlings baseball signed by the ESPN baseball analyst/columnist for $59.95.
Deal, or no deal?
And if you really looked at the signature and had no idea who it was, you might think: Stan Kasten?

Kurkjian’s valued opinions on “Baseball Tonight” over the years, and now as an occasional game analyst in the booth on top of what he writes for ESPN.com, was in some apparent need of updating.
It’s been a good eight years since  he produced a “for the love of the game” tome – the one he did in 2008 called “Is This a Great Game, or What? From A-Rod’s Heart to Zim’s Head – My 25 Years in Baseball.
The same way that was favorably embraced, this will likely be appreciated as well by those who see the game as a way of life, flaws and all, and because of its flaws, crafted by someone who we’ve thought of endearingly as a compilation of Huell Howser, Bill James and Joe Garagiola. And with the voice of a yet-to-be named character on the Cartoon Network.
As for the title …
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Play It Forward April 18-24: Kings, Ducks have some road work to do

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz had a decent seat for Game 2 of the Kings-Sharks series at Staples Center last Saturday. When she was paying attention. Next two are in San Jose. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz had a decent seat for Game 2 of the Kings-Sharks series at Staples Center last Saturday. When she was paying attention. Next two are in San Jose. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
Details/TV: Game 3 at San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
DUCKS vs. NASHVILLE
Details/TV: Game 3 at Nashville, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Before the Stanley Cup playoffs started, an analysis in USA Today of all 16 participating teams had the Ducks ranked No. 2 (they will win “because of their ability to limit chances against”) and the Kings at No. 4 (“Darryl Sutter has instilled a style that wins in the playoffs; basically stifle all offense against.”) Yet, for them to meet up in the second round, as was expected, there’s going to have to be some major turn of events. Caution: Major Road Work Ahead.
We know from recent history the Kings once lost three in a row to the Sharks in a Western Conference first-round series, somehow scrambled back to win it, then outlasted the Ducks in an epic second round before figuring out an improbable way of claiming the 2014 Stanley Cup. What’ll it take this time? Drew Doughty playing 60 minutes (or more) a game? He’s already logged 34 shifts and 29:19 minutes in Game 1 and 32 shifts and 29:15 minutes in Game 2. But it hasn’t stopped Joe Pavelski from becoming the first star of the game in the first two contests.
During the regular season, the Ducks lost at Nashville on Oct. 22 by a 5-1 count back when they were a mess, sporting a 1-9 record in that month. Circling back on Nov. 17, the Ducks also lost 3-2 with Frederick Anderson in the nets. With an 0-2 deficit in this series to match what the Kings face, the Ducks have no other gameplan other than to figure out a way for their best players to play better than their opponents’ best.
Best of luck.
Also this week for the Kings: Game 4 at San Jose is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., FSW; If necessary, Game 5 is at Staples Center on Friday, Prime Ticket, with Game 6 in San Jose on Sunday, Time TBA, on FSW or Prime Ticket.
Also this week for the Ducks: Game 4 at Nashville, Thursday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket. Game 5 at Anaheim, Saturday, time TBA.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
NBA PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
CLIPPERS vs. PORTLAND
Details/TV: Game 2 at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
The Washington Post posted four “X Factors” for the NBA’s Western Conference series. One of them was Blazers’ shooting guard C.J. McCollum, who, when trying to continue the flow of the team’s offense when the reserves take in minutes, might enjoy facing non-defensive minded Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers. Writes the Post about second-year man McCollum, the 6-4, 200-pounder out of Lehigh who was second to Damian Lillard in averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 assists and 34.8 minutes a game: “(His) ability to get his own shot as well as create easy looks for the likes of Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe will go a long way to determining if Portland can generate the margins they need.” Also note: The Clippers were worst in the league from 12-to-nine minutes mark left in the second quarter. In the Clippers’ 20-point series opening win, McCollum scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting, and 1-for-5 from 3-point land.
Also this week: Game 3 at Portland, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN

THE REST OF THE WEEK:
The Dodgers head to Atlanta and Colorado, while the Angels finish a road trip in Chicago before coming home against Seattle … The 120th Boston Marathon lands on Monday … UCLA’s spring football game is Saturday at Drake Stadium … More at this link.

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