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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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 17: In general, there’s much to learn about Gene Mauch

Gene Mauch, right, with Fidel Castro. In Cuba. In 1959. Yes, it happened (from "The Little General")

Gene Mauch, right, with Fidel Castro. In Cuba. In 1959. Yes, it happened (from “The Little General”)

The book: “The Little General: Gene Mauch, A Baseball Life”
The author: Mel Proctor
The vital statistics: Blue River Press, 360 pages, $22.95. Released Publisher, pages, price. Released spring, 2015
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Vromans.com, the publishers website

91xSx13gzmLThe pitch: Gene Mauch’s name came up as a piece of Dodgers’ trivia history recently.
Corey Seager was the Opening Day shortstop on April 4, at 21 years, 343 days.
Did that make him the youngest to do it in franchise history?
That distinction still belongs to Mauch, who started and played in the first five games for the 1944 Dodgers at age 18 years, 152 days. Key members of that Dodgers’ infield, including Pee Wee Reese, were off to World War II. Manager Leo Durocher admired the grit and headiness of the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Mauch, whom Branch Rickey had signed after his junior year at L.A.’s Fremont High and brought to spring training. Durocher was to be a player-manager, putting himself at second base, but a mishap in spring training – a botched throw from Mauch to Durocher caused him to break a finger – ended that experiment.
mauchdodgersOn April 18, 1944, with the Dodgers at Philadelphia, Mauch started, batting eighth. Lloyd Warner pinch hit for him in the sixth. The next day, Mauch got his first hit. Eventually Durocher had veteran Billy Hart play shortstop, and Mauch went back to the minor leagues with just 15 at bats.
It’s all there in Chapter 2 of this tribute book to Mauch written by Proctor, and if all you somewhat know about Mauch was how his managerial reign in 1964 with the Phillies and in 1982 and 1986 with the  Angels got to the doorstep of the World Series but never crossed the threshold, then you’re missing out so much on a man that Proctor rightfully frames as someone more misunderstood than not.
Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 16: It’s Durocher, circa 1948, following up (sorta) on Robinson’s debut and more

image089The book: “The Dodgers and Me”
The author: Leo Durocher
The vital statistics: Pathfinder Books, 302 pages, $12.95. (Re-released Feb. 23)
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

61hpHqNB58L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The pitch: The original version of this tome from Ziff-Davis Publishing landed in 1948 – the year after Durocher needed something to do as he was stuck gardening at home in Santa Monica because of an MLB suspension, unable to work as the Dodgers’ manager in the season that Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
Original first editions sometimes show up in online auctions going for more than $150, if signed. The great online used book site, Abebooks.com, will show one or two for $190.
A copy might surface on eBay.com in the $75 range.
So why did we gravitate toward this one?
Because of the affordability, the availability and the enjoy ability.
And we’re not even sure who to thank for this. The book publisher listed in this copy is Pathfinder Books. On online book sellers, its CreateSpace Independent Publishing, implying someone prints and sends these out once they’re ordered.
Imagine the kind of shelf life books like this could continue to have, and might this one inspire, if baseball fans continue to rediscover more oldies but goodies like this and show a willingness to buy not only hardbound, but softbound and kindle versions (at $2.99 a pop)?
Durocher has not been with us since 1991, living out the last year of his life golfing in Palm Springs. But bringing this diary back to life is pretty cool.
$_58On this revised cover, the “The Inside Story” subtitle is missing. An illustration of those Dodgers doesn’t even include Durocher.
All the original black-and-white photos are included (if not in the same order as the original editions) as well as the muddy typeface that makes the reader feel as if he needs to wash his hands after handling it.
Our first memories of Durocher came in the 1960s, when we saw him on an episode of “The Munsters,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “Mr. Ed,” playing himself, but often playing himself off as the Dodgers’ manager (when he was actually a coach on Walter Alston’s staff).
We were familiar with him later as a manager with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros until the early ‘70s.
But outside of a shaded reference to Durocher as played by Christopher Meloni in the 2013 movie “42,” where Durocher is suspected of being associated with known gamblers, we aren’t really told why Durocher had to serve a season-long suspension.
This book, as it turns out, does nothing at all to help.
Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 15: The Jackie Robinson Day readers

Our midpoint in the annual 30 baseball book reviews for the month of April, and the tip of the cap to those in the literary world who annually honor Jackie Robinson, a man who the Society for American Baseball Research refers to as “perhaps the most historically significant baseball player ever, ranking with Babe Ruth in terms of his impact on the national pastime. Ruth changed the way baseball was played; Jackie Robinson changed the way Americans thought.”

The back of Jackie Robinson's rookie baseball card could have been quoted in this new book. It isn't.

The back of Jackie Robinson’s 1949 baseball card could have been quoted in this new book. It isn’t. (And really, is his home New York City?)

The book: “Jackie Robinson in Quotes: The Remarkable Life of Baseball’s Most Significant Player”
The author: Danny Peary
The vital statistics: Page Street Publishing, 432 pages, $19.99. To be released April 19
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

ROBBYThe pitch: “Without a doubt, the most important person in the history of baseball is Jackie Robinson.”
That’s what documentarian Ken Burns said last January to a group of TV writers in Pasadena when talking about the two-part film he had put together for PBS, which then debuted this week. He likely repeated the line over and over to reporters afterward because it is so concise and headline worthy.
But in an interview posted this week on SI.com, Burns expanded:
“We have turned Jackie Robinson into shorthand for our own wishes and desires when the real person is so interesting and contemporary. Do you want to know him in his full dimension, or would you rather it just be the superficial, syrupy, sugarcoated Madison Avenue version of the past?”
That’s the quote that gets to the heart of this compilation of what could be label “Robinson’s greatest hits.” It points out the inherent flaw in a culled collection of quotes, book excerpts, press releases and interview snippets that attempt to sum up a person’s life, when it really can’t, specifically in this case.

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Sports media notes version 04.15.16: A taxing situation for Dodger fans, especially if they don’t know who they’re angry at these days

Bob Miller gets some Staples Center video screen time during his appearance in the owners suite at Thursday's Kings-Sharks playoff game.

Bob Miller gets some Staples Center video screen time during his appearance in the owners suite at Thursday’s Kings-Sharks playoff game.

Coming up for Sunday’s media column:

Bob Miller talks to KCBS Channel 2 reporter Jim Hill prior to Thursday's Kings-Sharks playoff opener.

Bob Miller talks to KCBS Channel 2 reporter Jim Hill prior to Thursday’s game.

Bob Miller’s continued comeback from quadruple bypass heart surgery in February means he won’t be strong enough to call games for the Kings during the Stanley Cup playoffs that started this week.
But he and his wife, Judy, were still able to make it out to Game 1 of the Kings-Sharks series on Thursday night.
“On a scale of 1-to-10, I’m about a 7,” Miller admits.
We’ll have more an update on how he’s looked at life a little differently these days as he plans to return to broadcasting the Kings’ 50th season in 2016-17.

What’s worth posting now:

A view of "Dodgerland" from the new documentary "Moneyball Too" (screen grab)

A view of “Dodgerland” from the new documentary “Moneyball Too” (screen grab)

Aside from a need for city-wide grief counseling, what can be done for the masses as the Dodgers/SportsNet LA/Time Warner Cable/DirecTV fallout continues?
It has been pointed out that the antiquated MLB blackout policies, which for some insane reason couldn’t be circumvented to allow ESPN to carry the Dodgers’ 2016 season opener to the L.A. market back on April 4, will again lead to confusion and despair this weekend in L.A.
The MLB Network has planned coverage of Friday’s Dodgers-Giants game from Dodger Stadium, on Jackie Robinson Day. Bob Costas will be there on the play-by-play, with Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds. Alas, it’s blacked out in L.A. because it impinges on local SportsNet L.A. territorial rights.
Is that really what Jackie Robinson would have wished for? (Sorry, just got a JR in our bonnet watching the Ken Burns’ PBS two-night special — somehow not blacked out in L.A.)
Then Sunday night, ESPN wheels its trucks into the Ravine with its A-team of Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza for an exclusive nabbing of the Dodgers-Giants series finale, a 5 p.m. airing. And there are some understandably upset with this as well — it knocks Vin Scully off the air from his SportsNet L.A. job (and three innings on the KLAC-AM radio simulcast). If this is Scully’s final year, why would be endorse eliminating appearances already from his limited slate?
Emotions drive readership to draw conclusions that sometimes aren’t accurate, but have a lot of truth as a baseline.
And because of that Tom Wilson wants to help make it more understandable, if not tolerable. Continue reading

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