NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

  1. The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse, by Molly Knight
  2. The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy, by Filip Bondy
  3. The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. Pedroby Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (My review on Bookreporter.com)
  6. Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak, by Travis Sawchik
  7. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  8. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  9. The Natural, by Bernard Malamud
  10. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

Pretty much the same as last week’s posting. The only difference is the substitution of Williams’ Hitting for Jeter Unfiltered.

New York Times: On the current list, Bengie Molina’s memoir book ranks ninth with Martinez’s at #12, followed by Jon Pessah’s The Game at #15, and Leerhsen’s Cobb bio at #20.

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. As of this post, the ranking is 770,292, down significantly from last week’s 579,957. C’mon, people, we can do better than that.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

 

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http://images.performgroup.com/di/library/sporting_news/1d/4e/jeopardy-logo_yaprse3dr5jo1ff2j7qizvo2p.jpg?t=-1206134380Twice this week, the national pastime was part of the unofficial national quiz show.

On Wednesday, the topic was teams that had never won the World Series (although perhaps it was teams that had never been in the Series; I should have kept track).

One of the answers was wrong at the time of airing, but as this piece from FOX Sports points out, shows like this are taped in advance.

Yesterday, the Final Jeopardy question was prefaced by Trebeck saying, “Even if you know nothing about Major League Baseball, there are important elements in this clue that will lead to the right response. Here is that clue,” which was “This Major League team’s official colors are Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and Black.”

Actually, the answer is of course, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The contestants obviously have no choice for FJ. They have to attempt an answer. But for the regular category, I kept waiting for someone to make the first move. That didn’t happen until late in the round, when that’s basically all that was left.

 

 

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Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood that famous quote from Forrest Gump. If it’s a box of chocolate covered cherries, don’t you know exactly what you’re going to get?)

On the one hand, I’m happy to report that I’m catching up / running out of these old links (some are no longer “with us”). On the other hand, it’s been cool reminiscing.

I highly recommend Pocket as a way to hold onto links you come that you want to keep. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket keeps the entire page and makes it relative easy for you to find stuff you “pocketed.” I have keepers going back six years — more than 5,000 links — and I’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning house so here are some submitted for your amusement, perusal, and education. Some are not current, but in a sense, they’re timeless. They’re presented in reverse order (oldest first).

Haven’t seen a new book by Dirk Hayhurst in awhile. Hope he’s okay. This piece from 2010 came out as he was publishing his first book, The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect’s Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life. Since then, he’s written Out Of My League: A Rookie’s Survival in the Bigs (2012) and Bigger Than the Game: Restitching a Major League Life (2014). He also published Wild Pitches as a Kindle-only book in 2013.

Staying with Hayhurst, here’s a 2012 piece he wrote about doctoring the ball from Yahoo. sports; an interview he did with SB Nation about the use of sabermetrics by broadcasters; and spoke with FOX Sports in 2014. Of course, you know you’ve really made it when you appear in The New York Times, as he did in this piece by Tyler Kepner in 2012.

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2012/02/05/sports/dog-kepner1/dog-kepner1-articleLarge.jpg

Speaking of sabermetrics, I vote for this one to be implemented ASAP: STOOPID, or the “Subjective Triangle Of Originality Plus Irrationality Dividend,” “a new statistic to calculate the entertainment value of watching any individual player,” as devised by Susan Petrone, author of Throw Like A Woman on the It’s Pronounced Lajaway website.

There are lots of baseball-themed sites I wish I could keep up with on a regular basis. Pitchers and Poets is one of them. Here’s a sample on “Zen and the Art of Lineup Maintenance” from 2012.

I would add Bardball to that above category.  A TBT link to the site happens to be a poem I wrote in 2012 when the Mets traded away Jose Reyes. It seems relevant again now that the Toronto Blue Jays recently did the same. Really don’t know anything about poetry, but if I recall, I was experimenting with a specific form/meter at the time.

I firmly believe the New York Mets, for all their faults, have one of the best broadcasting teams in the business (both TV and radio). Here’s a Fangraphs piece from 2012 ranking the TV side. I’m sure you can find the rest on the site somewhere. Of course, this needs an update.

Judy Lynn Johnson put up her Watching The Game site a few years before her book by the same name dropped in 2014. Not much since, but she’s a thoughtful fan you should get to know.

Fellow Author and baseball book reviewer James Bailey posted this piece in 2012 on “Why phoney ratings matter,” regarding ersatz critiques on sits like Amazon. It’s still valid. Frankly, after experiencing some titles and seeing the kind of glowing reviews they get makes me wonder if a) these are friends and family of the author, and b) whether we’re talking about the same book.

A number of fans think Yogi Berra was done an injustice when he lost out as one of the four greatest living players to Johnny Bench. as announced at the recent All-Star Game. This won’t make up for it, but here’s an NPR interview with Harvey Araton, author of Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift.

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Came across this Rolling Stone interview with Joe Pepitone from our friend Dan Epsietin. Pepi’s memoir, Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a reissue from Skyhorse Press (the same publisher as my Maccabiah book; just sayin’).

Can it really be that long ago? I remember that as one of my selections from the newly-created Sports Illustrated Book Club. Ball Four — by Pepitone’s teammate Jim Bouton — was the first of this “adult” version of first-person baseball tales, but each one that came after tried to set the bar higher in terms of the dirt it dished and Pepitone’s led the league for a time. (Amusing to note from the interview that Pepitone says of Ball Four 

Eh, I didn’t read his whole book – I just read certain things that were said about some guys on the club, where he’s the last one to talk, you know what I mean? And I didn’t like how he shit-talked about Mickey [Mantle], and stuff like that. I mean, we had a saying in baseball that, “What you see here and what you say here, let it stay here.” I don’t think in my book I got on anybody’s ass, or talked about anybody bad. I’m harsher on myself than anybody else.

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387726036l/1098419.jpg http://assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2015/media/195585/_original/1431363596/1035x1556-Joe-You-Coulda-Made-Us-Proud-9781613217702.jpg
The original cover The updated model

 

I had a brief back-and-forth with Epstein on this, wondering if Pepitone would make an appropriate guest for a Bookshelf Conversation. Long story short, one consideration would be the ex-ballplayer’s propensity for profanity. As you know, I run a clean shop here (even though my talk is often salty), so I imagine it might be as difficult to  ask Pepitone to mind his manners as it would be for Deadwood‘s villainous barkeep Al Sweringen (Big warning here, NSFW. Listen at your own risk.)

Maybe I’ll pass on this.

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I love it when worlds collide, that is when two or more of my favorite things meet.

http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/04/09/pchhblogrect1_custom-fa12cc224b246ce56d8433be3490350c4e073156-s800-c15.jpgIn this case, I’m talking about the July 17 edition of the Pop Culture Happy Hour, one of my go-to podcasts. It’s what I always listen to on my way home from work on Fridays (on my way to work on Mondays, it’s always Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

In a segment on “Who we’re pulling for,” guest panelist and former PCHH producer Mike Katzif discussed what basically amounts to jumping on a team’s bandwagon as many Johnny-come-latelys have done with the Kansas City Royals. As evidence, since this was right around the All-Star Game, he pointed out that in years past, the Royals could muster just the one required representative to the AS roster. This year, thanks to some questionable voting practices, the Royals contributed the manager, four starters, and a handful of bench players, way disproportionate to the rest of the teams.

Katzif contended that prior to last year, when the Royals unexpectedly made it all the way to the World Series, the team enjoyed — if that’s the word — only die-hards. With their new-found success, Katzif suggest, everyone ants to get into the act, to the consternation of those fans who have been invested for years. You can hear the segment here at about the 25:30 mark.

http://www.baseballflagsandpennants.com/images_products/kansas_city_royals_pennant_296sma.jpg

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I picked up a couple of books at the library recently and, lo and behold, found some baseball in ‘em.

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1396836541l/18509642.jpg100 of the Worst Ideas in History, by Michael Smith and Eric Kasum, includes three items on the national pastime in the chapter “Stupidity at a Major League Level.” Each contains the following:

  • “The genius behind it,” aka who to blame.
  • “The brainstorm struck,” when
  • “Bring on the blunder,” the main details
  • “From bad to worse,” further details
  • “Dumb luck”
  • “Afterthoughts”

You may agree, disagree, or think others should have been included, but there they are:

  • “The Bambino’s Curse on the Beantown Bombers  (fairly obvious)
  • “Out of the Park? Out of the Question” (Keeping Josh Gibson — and by extension, all African-Americans — out of “organized ball”)
  • Disco inferno singes the White Sox (also obvious)

The other baseball-related material comes from the latest in the Freakonomics series (one of my favorites).

http://also.kottke.org/misc/images/when-to-rob-a-bank.jpgWhen to Rob a Bank…and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt includes a “rant” on “Pete Rose Provides a Lesson in Basic Economics (the cost/worth of memorabilia) and “If Only God Had Corporate Sponsorship” (The Chicago White Sox start their night games at 7:11 because that company is a sponsor.)

The rest of the stuff in these books is pretty good, too.

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Look, I’m no one to complain. I’ve had my share of shameless self-promoting. But come on, when Will Ferrell pulled off his spring training stunt of playing 10 positions for 10 teams in one day, you had to know that something was up.

Sure, this gig ostensibly raised money for caner awareness. But it also took place just as Get Hard — his buddy comedy with Kevin Hart — was about to drop. Now, there’s Ferrell Takes The Field, a documentary (mocumentary?) about the whole megillah from HBO, due out in September.

Gee, I wonder what Ferrell ouevre coincides with that?

According to IMDB, Ferrell is involved in several projects that are scheduled before the end of 2015 including Zeroville, a feature film, and The Spoils Before Dying, a TV miniseries. (which is actually/supposedly out now, although I never heard about it before this posting).

I find Ferrell an acquired taste which I do not possess. With a few exceptions, he plays clueless “man-child” roles a bit older than fellow SNL alum Adam Sandler, whom I also do not enjoy or understand the popularity thereof, although perhaps a tad more than Rob Schneider.

Just sayin’.

A chacun son gout, I suppose.

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61I4EjqrWrL._SX400_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgRevisiting the “Horace Clarke Era,” by Fritz Peterson. CreateSpace, 254 pages, $19.99.

Timing is everything and relatively speaking, Fritz Peterson didn’t have it. He came along when the New York Yankees were in decline after so many successful campaigns. And while the left-handed starter had a decent career, one wonders what might have been had he had Mantle, Maris, Berra, and company around in their prime.

In addition, Peterson will be remembered more for the family-swap with Mike Kekich than holding the franchise record for home ERA by a lefty.

Despite some health issues in recent years, Peterson has managed to put a mostly positive spin on things. He wrote about his religious beliefs in Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven (2009) and followed that up with The Art of De-Conditioning: Eating Your Way to Heaven in 2012.

When the Yankees Were on the Fritz is a good reminder for Yankees fans of the era about the dozens of no-name players who populated the roster from the late 1960s through mid 70s. Peterson provides a recap of the season and then offers his recollections about his teammates, bot as players and men, all done with a combination of good-natured jibing and brutal honesty.

A major fault of the book are the numerous typos, punctuation errors, and other mistakes that can be distracting. Peterson is a good story teller, but that doesn’t always translate to the written word.This can be a significant problem for self-published authors who wish to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, as in Peterson’s case, this is often a question of being able to afford paying an editor or for other quality control. (Peterson said these would be corrected in a subsequent edition).

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http://www.tradingcarddb.com/Images/Cards/Baseball/66/66-495Fr.jpgThis is how I remember Fritz Peterson. A smiling, happy-go-lucky ballplayer. And why not? When this Topps card came out, he had just finished a successful rookie year for the New York Yankees, finishing 12-11 with a 3.31 ERA and allowing just 196 hits in 215 innings. Unfortunately, the good times were few and far between as Peterson was a victim of bad timing, missing the team’s glory years as they sank into a miasma of frustration. He would go on to pitch another ten seasons, including stops in Cleveland and Texas before retiring at the age of 34.

But as we know, you’re a ex-player much longer (God willing) than a player and you have to find other things to do with your life.

Unfortunately, Peterson’s health has not been the best in recent years. This is one reason why he decided to take up writing as a cathartic exercise. All of his books have been self-published. His first, Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven, came out in 2009. (I met him at Yankee Fantasy Camp that fall and did this interview with him.) The second title, The Art of De-Conditioning: Eating Your Way to Heaven, was released in 2012.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61I4EjqrWrL._SX400_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThis year, Peterson published When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the Horace Clarke Years.a memoir of his seasons with the Yankees spent most of their time struggling to maintain a .500 record.

I spoke with Peterson recently about this project and the previous ones.

 

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NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2296382!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_400/filip-book-web.jpg

  1. The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse, by Molly Knight
  2. The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga
  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  4. The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy, by Filip Bondy
  5. Pedroby Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (My review on Bookreporter.com)
  6. The Natural, by Bernard Malamud
  7. Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak, by Travis Sawchik
  8. Jeter Unfiltered, by Jeter
  9. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  10. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen

New to the list: Bondy’s revisiting of the iconic Pine Tar game that never fails to entertain, even after all these years.

Back on the list: Beach reading? Malamud’s The Natural.

New York Times: On the current list, Bengie Molina’s book ranks ninth with Martinez’s memoir at #12, followed by Jon Pessah’s The Game at #15, and Leerhsen’s Cobb bio at #20.

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. As of this post, the ranking is 579,957, down slightly from last week’s 531,232; C’mon, people, we can do better than that.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

 

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I was doing an on-line search for baseball book art to incorporate into a screen-saver slide show and came across an image that looked a bit odd and familiar.

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2100585/Man_s_Magazine_medium.jpgSure enough, it was not an baseball cover but a faux cover included in one of a very entertaining series of entries by Jim Baker, a former writer for SB Nation when it was under the direction of Rob Neyer.

Baker, who told me he now devotes most of his writing to screenplays, compiled these pieces as “The X Collection,” in which “one of the greatest paper collectibles in baseball history are examined.” Ersatz, of course, but I think someone should take up the challenge and actually put words to pictures..

Since these ran a few years ago, they qualify as a “throwback,” although not as old as most.

Here are a few representative pieces:

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2001089/No-Hitter_medium.jpg http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2001129/Home_Run_Freud_medium.jpg
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2001153/Game_Called_medium.jpg http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2100641/Sporting_Detective_Stories_medium.jpg
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1873849/Ernie_Banks_Trio_-_Let_s_Play_Two.jpg?_ga=1.81786327.1130736238.1437670647 http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1779745/Tales_of_the_1_Percent_medium.jpg
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1779753/Doll_Man__medium.jpg http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2251395/Drugs_6a.jpg?_ga=1.248377543.1130736238.1437670647
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bbiconRob Neyer occasionally posts “book club” entries as part of his Just a  Bit Outside site. This one was put up shortly after the passing of Alison Gordon, a sportswriter who covered the Toronto Blue Jays and chronicled the experience in her book Foul Ball!: Five Years in the American League.

bbicon This piece from BaseballEssential about Molly Knight‘s The Best Team Money Can Buy was a bit of a headscratcher for me. It contained so much parsing that I couldn’t decide if the writer actually like the book or not until the very end: “I am not a literary critic, so I am not calling this a book review. But I love baseball and I love books and I love baseball books, and this is one of the best I’ve ever read.”  He also includes this odd (again, to me), item: “There is nothing about the book that benefits from being written by a woman, but the entire thing is remarkable because a woman wrote it.” I have no idea how old the author of this piece is, but really? Is that so odd these days that it’s even worth mentioning the sex of the book’s author? After all, things have come a long way since Gordon broke in with the Jays.

bbiconHere’s a Q&A with Knight from the LASportshub website.

bbiconAnother new Dodger-centric book is The 50 Greatest Dodger Games of All Time, by J. P. Hoornstra, a Los Angeles News Group beat writer for the team.

bbiconHere’s a nice piece about Arnold Hano and the documentary about him by Jon Leonoudakis from the Huffington Post.

bbiconWhen is someone going to do a biography on the former Yankees third baseman-turned-cardiologist-turned-American League president Bobby Brown? Until that happens, here’s a profile on Brown from the Dallas Morning News.

bbiconThe New York Daily News promotes one of its ownFilip Bondy, author of The Pine Tar Game

bbiconhttps://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/004/090/334/4675e99b0d8260c8bb457a6901ab3555_original.jpg?v=1435959296&w=680&fit=max&auto=format&q=92&s=8c4c24e24e7017aa57a887ec495ed723They say baseball is a metaphor for life (isn’t everything a metaphor for life?), but I wonder what Paul Dickson, author of the excellent Baseball Dictionaries would have to say aboutFirst Base and Beyond, a “reference” work that puts baseball in terms of sex (or is it vice versa?). I’ll probably do more with this at some point, but it will be a challenge to keep this a “clean” blog. More on the book here from RantSports. Of course, there’s a Kickstarter campaign for the project. (FYI, Dickson, who is hard at work on his new biography on Leo Durocher, declined comment.)

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Baseball books, the next wave.

2015 title

There are basically three time periods during which baseball books are released: around opening day (the largest number), around the All-Star break, and once more around World Series time. One thing I learned is that most books have a limited shelf life, literally. There’s only so much space at bookstores and new material comes in […]

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Casting Call: Luckiest Man

baseball movies

Happy to hear the news that Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, by Jonathan Eig, will be turned into a feature movie. From the New York Post of July 17: George Steinbrenner’s grandson, Robert Molloy, will be part of a program Friday on the grounds of the former Yankee Stadium. Molloy is […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, July 17, 2015

2014 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Documentaries, present and future

2015 title

Grantland recently aired Spyball, one of those 30 for 30 short documentaries produced by the folks at ESPN. Spyball is the story of Moe Berg, one of the most interesting characters to play in the Majors. A very quick recap of Berg’s career: He was a brilliant scholar, linguist, lawyer, etc., as well as mediocre […]

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Because dozens of fans at Home Run Derby have things to put on their bookshelves

"Oddballs"

This originally appeared on my other blog, but I didn’t feel like reinventing the wheel, so… How abut that kid? Joc Pederson came within one home run of winning in his very first appearance. From an ESPN story: It was Pederson who had put on the best show of the night, crushing 13 mammoth homers […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, July 10, 2015

2014 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Book pitches WW2 as lasting part of Hank Greenberg’s legacy

Author Profile / interview

Submitted for your interest, this feature by Jacob Kamaras at JNS.org on John Klima’slatest baseball book, The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII. * * * Baseball fans might most vividly remember Hank Greenberg for his chase of Babe Ruth’s single-season […]

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Because Alex Rodriguez can (finally) put this on his bookshelf

collectibles

Or his daughters’, as he claims. “Ballhawk” Zack Hample has agreed to give the 3,000-hit ball to the Yankees’ DH. In the case of two wrongs not making a right, I was always in Rodriguez’s corner when it came to being paid for achieving milestones. No one held a gun to the Yankees when they […]

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