30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 24: A fixer-upper for the 1919 Black Sox ‘Betrayal’

hith-black-sox-world-series-Eight_men_banned-VThe book: “The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball”
The author: Charles Fountain
The vital statistics: Oxford University Press, 290 pages, $27.95, Released October, 2015
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com and at the publisher’s website. (The publisher, by the way, is the same that makes the Oxford Dictionary).

61zSPKXvyGLThe pitch: We admire Charles Fountain’s gumption for trying to fix something about the most well-known fix in baseball history.
For all we know, or think we know, about this incident creeping up on its 100th anniversary, this journalism professor from Northeastern University and former sportswriter who has already churned out a 1993 bio about Grantland Rice and the rites of spring training (which we reviewed as the first book of the 2009 season) finds a need to  revisit something with a fresh set of cynicism.
This came out during last year’s World Series, so it missed the 2015 review list, but we’re not going to let it slip by that easy.
Much like what Glenn Stout did with the 1919 sale of Babe Ruth, Fountain is all about setting the record straight.
9906635792In a very subtle way, for example, he refers to Eliot Asinof’s “Eight Men Out” as “the best known if also the least-reliable book on the subject” just a few sentences into his book. So there goes any reference point you might have had in the literary world.
He acknowledges that the 1963 classic is  “the single most influential telling of the Black Sox story, for it has shaped every telling that has followed. It has also made subsequent retelling of the Black Sox story difficult, for while ‘Eight Men Out’ is confidently presented and highly readable, it is also questionably sourced, and as much a work of imagination as history … (and) Asinof made no apologies for seeing and telling the story in dramatic terms and had originally conceived the project as a screenplay.”
Fountain is hardly spouting off. And we’re drinking it all in.
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 23: Where were you in ’72? A Reds scare and an A’s rebellion amidst a Watergate investigation

Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion scores under the tag of Oakland's Gene Tenace in

Cincinnati’s Dave Concepcion scores under the tag of Oakland’s Gene Tenace in Game 6 of the 1972 World Series.

The book: “Hairs vs. Squares: The Mustache Gang, the Big Red Machine, and the Tumultuous Summer of ’72”
The author: Ed Gruver
The vital statistics: University of Nebraska Press, 408 pages, $29.95. To be released May 1.
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website.

514eoXEs6uLThe pitch: According to those who operate the Coordinated Universal Time index, 1972 was the longest year ever. It was already a 366-day leap year, and two leap seconds were added to balance the universe.
For the rest of us who might remember more about it, that year may only seemed to be longer.
It started with a players’ strike that eliminated an odd amount of games for each team made the final standings a mess — the Boston Red Sox lost the AL East by a half game to the Detroit Tigers. Ooops.
The Dodgers, with Frank Robinson playing right field and Steve Garvey misappropriated at third base, didn’t even have their star infield together yet, although they were two years away from the World Series. Claude Osteen somehow wins 20 games, Don Sutton wins another 19, with 48-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm is tutoring 24-year-old Charlie Hough in the bullpen about the art of the knuckleball.
The Angels had 25-year-old Nolan Ryan winning 19 games, losing 16, posting an ERA of 2.28. striking out a league-high 329, and, since the DH was one year away, he hit. .135 with five doubles and a triple.
(As a kid, I’d listen to Dick Enberg call Angels games at this time. He once mentioned that Eddie Fisher was up in the bullpen warming up. I had no idea that Elizabeth Taylor’s former husband was a pitcher, but then again, the Angels did once have Bo Belinski.)
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 22: They’re ready to fall on their sabermetric swords

An appearance by Jose Canseco to play for the independent league's Sonoma Stompers was probably one of the more normal things that happened with the team in 2015 (Photo:

An appearance in June by Jose Canseco to play for the independent league’s Sonoma Stompers was probably one of the more normal things that happened with the team in 2015 (Photo by Crista Jeremiason/Sonoma Press Democrat)

The book: “The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team”
The authors: Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller
The vital statistics: Henry Holt and Co., 368 pages, $30. Will be released May 3
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com. At the publishers website.

ONLYThe pitch: The Sonoma Stompers, you’ve got to figure, are named so after those who crush grapes for the local wineries.
Yet no one is going to squish the dreams of Lindbergh and Miller right now.
Although you couldn’t blame them for getting a little whiny now and then.
The Stompers are an entry in the independent Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs in Northern California, full of players trying to attract the attention of anyone except, perhaps, the Stompers.
And they come without warning labels, full of flaws, gaps in their resume and a glove full of lies.
“Baseball has a caste system and at our level, we’re trafficking in Untouchables,” Lindbergh writes in Chapter 5. “If the (Oakland) A’s were ‘a collection of misfit toys,’ as Michael Lewis wrote (in the book ‘Moneyball’), then we’ll be building a team out of toys that got recalled because they were choke hazards.”
And that’s just the starting point of the challenge that Lindbergh and Smith, two sabermetric prophets from the Baseball Prospectus, gave themselves in trying to see if they can apply their math to a real-team building in real-time baseball.
It translates to real easy read, because it’s not just enjoyable or “blissfully funny” at Nate Silver notes on the cover blurb. It’s because it’s something we all wish we had the chance to do in our 20s aside from dabbling in a rotisserie league that had a minimal payoff.
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Weekly sports media notes version 04.21.15

What’s worth posting now:

CfufxOHUAAEVGHB== “Why Vin Scully should call the World Series before retiring” is the sexy headline, the sales pitch, the eye-grabber, atop the latest SI.com media column posted last Sunday night by columnist Richard Deistch.
Of course, it makes sense to put it out there again. It’s a topic addressed almost annually, by readers, by writers, by those at the networks, by those who believe they can make it happen.
As much as we’ve come to realize that Scully’s answer is “thanks, but no thanks, and he’s unmistakably on the record as saying he’ll pass, the idea gets floated again, so much so that others pick up on it and before you know, the New York Daily News chimes in with: “Hey, Vin Scully: We want you to broadcast the All-Star game … or the World Series” even  suggesting the ever elusive Sandy Koufax be asked to facilitate.
Maybe we’re missing something. We read on.
It’s former NBC baseball producer Michael Weisman who is the latest to suggest Scully be asked to make a curtain call, which launches the SI.com piece. We certainly remember Weisman from years and Emmys ago, but …
Fox MLB play-by-play man Joe Buck is asked again if he’d step aside for Scully. As he has said almost annually, he’d be fine with it. This time with Deistch he offers even more detail as to why Scully would be out of his comfort zone if asked to do it now.
Maybe the prevailing thought here is, if we ask again, again, and again — really wear him down on it — he’ll agree and God bless us everyone.
vinmagesDeitsch follows up in his notes column Wednesday by saying: “As both pieces clearly indicate, Scully has repeatedly turned down such inquiries. Baseball fans can dream, however.”
We’re with you on that.
But maybe, having talked to him about it so often, on and off the record, we have a pretty good feel for how the 88-year-old Hall of Famer appreciates the gesture, but he really isn’t up for it.
The real lure to this year is a) he says it’s his last, b) the SportsNet LA mess makes it impossible for many to hear him call a game past three innings on the radio and c) here’s a chance to be heard nationally. Plus, with an All-Star Game in San Diego, he’s apt to be OK with doing it, especially if Fox can get Dick Enberg lined up for the same kind of sendoff. That could be the real lure for him — pay tribute to his friend and kind of make it a fun experience for the two of them.
There’s still euphoria floating through the city after the magical Kobe Bryant finale, and then more from the tribute Scully got on the Dodgers’ home opener. We get gold, but then find ourselves begging for an encore, just one more moment of their time, and they feel obliged.
No hard feelings for anyone who’s trying to nudge this to happen.
And as much as we’ve been up, down and across this road before — aside from the one going into Dodger Stadium just renamed for him, which took long enough for the city to wear him down on that honor — trust us, Scully would rather not even be on the other end of this conversation any longer. It tires him.
So before the groundswell begins again in July, and then in October, just kind of realize how selfish this all us, and unfair to him.
And at what point are we trying to guilt him into making a call for our own warm-and-fuzzy gratification?

== Such a find for ESPN in digging this up:

== Which also leads into this headline and rather obvious observation in a Forbes.com post: “Vin Scully Has Become A Social Media Phenomenon In His Final Season”

== The Niagara Gazette is all ready for a Scully visit this fall.

== The Dodgers announced Wednesday that it will extend its Spanish language radio rights for three more years with KTNQ (1020 AM), the Univision Radio station. It confirms that Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin will be able to reach 60 seasons with the team; he’s in Year 58 at the moment, doing games with his son, Jorge.

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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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