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.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51KyiCbXd3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan
  2. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  3. The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Matheny with Jerry Jenkins
  6. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  7. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, by Ron Darling and Daniel Paisner. (My review on Bookreporter.com)
  8. Incredible Baseball Stats: The Coolest, Strangest Stats and Facts in Baseball History, by Kevin Reavy and Ryan Spader *
  9. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  10. Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty, by Bengie Molina

* Indicates titles making their debut on the Bookshelf BBS list.

Another books on stats? Amazing how these keep coming out year after year. I don’t get it: the numbers don’t change all that much. These aren’t species of dinosaurs. All the stats are there already. Not much more to “discover.”

The  Molina book returns to the Friday list after a substantial absence. I imagine this will be a good one to give to Dad on Fathers Day.

On the April New York Times sports list: Mariano Rivera’s The Closer comes in at #13. If you’re interested, as I am, in how they decide these things, click on the link at the bottom of the list’s page.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,020,093; last week: 898,817. Ugh, a million. The Mendoza Line of Amazon rankings.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. 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://chicagosidesports.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joe_pepitone_book_you_coulda_made_us_proud.jpghttp://assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2015/media/195585/_original/1431363596/1035x1556-Joe-You-Coulda-Made-Us-Proud-9781613217702.jpgHard to believe it’s been 40 years since Joe Pepitone came out with his version of Ball Four with Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud, co-written with Berry Stainback. I remember getting this when it first came out as a selection of the short-lived Sports Illustrated Book Club.

It was re-issued last year as a paperback with a new epilogue (read, money grab).

As became the case in subsequent player memoirs, Pepitone tried to out-Bouton Jim Bouton with more outrageous tales of growing up as a juvenile delinquent in Brooklyn before straightening out (ha!) as a professional athlete.

Pepitone will participate in a two-part event at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan on Friday, May 20. The first, “Cocktails, Stories & Fare with Joe Pepitone,” will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m., described by Bergino owner Jay Goldberg as “An intimate gathering…for fewer people than fill a Major League clubhouse. We’ll sit around, enjoy cocktails, beer, and fare while schmoozing and listening to stories from Joe.”

The cost is $125 per person and includes a gift bag consisting of

  • A signed copy of the book
  • Signed photograph
  • Signed baseball
  • Bring one item of your own for Joe to sign
  • Individual photo opportunity

The second part begins immediately thereafter and is open to the public. Items will be available for purchase/signing on an “a la carte” basis.

Space is extremely limited, RSVP here ASAP for the cocktail hour.

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http://www.bookreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/book_main/covers/125006919X.jpg

 

Via Bookreporter.com.

 

 

 

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https://cdn-az.allevents.in/banners/8b36ed130d625c2cdaa03f8dd21f4e75Full disclosure: Howard Megdal and I go back a fair piece. I did a story on him when he published The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball’s Chosen Players and we’ve kept in touch over the years. In a sense, I consider him my “rabbi,” the consigliere type as opposed to  than something more religious. Megdal was instrumental in my appearance on PBS for the fundraising screening of Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. He also had a hand in Skyhorse reaching out to me to write The Jewish Olympics. And since Skyhorse is also publishing my forthcoming Hank Greenberg project, well, that’s on him, too, by extension.

From a very personal point of view, dayenu, as my people say at this time of year: it would have been enough. But Megdal — whom I consider the hardest working man in sports journalism —  is also a prolific author. In addition to Talmud, he wrote two books about the ineffectiveness of the Mets ownership. So when he turned to his newest book, The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time, I wanted to know why he would devote so much of his precious little time to that organization. (My review of Cardinals Way was recently published on Bookreporter.com.)

Here’s the result of our recent conversation, conducted over the phone during his hour-and-forty-minute commute to his new job as editorial director at Excelle, a website devoted to women’s sports. While we did talk about his baseball work, there’s a lot more to him than that, so our conversation did consider non-baseball stuff as well. Deal with it.

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Recapping Tom Hoffarth’s entertaining and educational series:

 

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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.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518YturWYLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan
  2. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  4. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Matheny with Jerry Jenkins
  5. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, by Ron Darling and Daniel Paisner. My review on the book should be out later today on Bookreporter.com.
  6. The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time, by Howard Megdal. Look for my “Bookshelf Conversation” with Megdal on Monday.
  7. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  8. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  9. If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers: Stories from the Milwaukee Brewers Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box, by Bill Schroeder
  10. The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller
  • Indicates titles making their debut on the Bookshelf BBS list.

Megdal’s book on the Cardinals returns to the list as doed the Lindbergh/Miller collaboration.

On the April New York Times sports list: Mariano Rivera’s The Closer comes in at #13. If you’re interested, as I am, in how they decide these things, click on the link at the bottom of the list’s page.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 898,817; last week: 603,441. Wrong direction but still content that it’s above (or is it above?) the one million mark.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. 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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Should have posted this earlier, but the opening reception is tonight and Scilla will be a the featured speaker at an event on May 5 at the Italian American Museum in Manhattan.

https://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&id=780629&part=2

https://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&id=780629&part=3

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Overlooked this from a couple of months ago.

From “Sports Money” on Forbes.com, dated March 3, 2016:

Major League Baseball has discontinued publishing the Green and Red Books, two media guides that provided scores of data on teams for a given season, plus historical information.

According to the article by Maury Brown, the powers that be decided all the information contained there in were available from other sources, so why go through the trouble and expense?

http://blogs-images.forbes.com/maurybrown/files/2016/03/RedGreen.jpg

Brown, owner of Bizball.biz, a research and analytics company, as well a member of the BBWAA. noted that first the books were discontinued in print form and,  now they’re no longer going to do them as PDFs.

If you haven’t seen these, they were sooooo cool. Not terribly big, but full of factoids, including a name pronunciation table for each team. I remember when I found out you could request them — for free — just by writing a note to the American and National League offices. Of course, this goes back about 40 years ago…

Waaaaah.

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/teEAAOSwgQ9V0RH-/s-l300.jpgWhen I arrived at the Shea Stadium press box to do my first game for STATS, I found it quite intimidating. I did have my own spot all set aside, thankfully, but knowing proper etiquette? I felt like the rookie I was, not sure to whom I could talk, even just to shoot the breeze. The fact that I’m naturally introverted didn’t help.

I noticed that just about everyone had a media guide for both teams, the Mets and whoever there opponent was that day. I summoned up my courage and asked the late Shannon Forde, the PB liaison,i f I could possibly get a copy of the Mets book. Sure, she said. Did I want one for the other team, too? Sure, I said, trying to be cool.

http://thumbs.ebaystatic.com/images/g/XFkAAOxyTyBSUyq9/s-l225.jpgThat’s when I felt, at least a little bit, like I was part of the club. After all, this was in the day when such treasures weren’t available to mere fans. As I worked more games, I steadily built up my collection. And when I became the sports editor for the New Jersey Jewish News, I became emboldened and contact all the teams, requesting copies of their guides.

But now, those, too, are increasingly made available as PDFs, putting the onus on the users to print out individual pages or the entirety. As an old-school guide, I don’t like reading large volumes on my computer or even a Kindle; there’s something about the physicality of the book that’s a literary comfort food-deal.

But I guess that’s progress for ya.

 

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My latest feature for Bookreporter.com includes

  • Glenn Stout’s The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend
  • Murray Klein’s Stealing Games: How John McGraw Transformed Baseball with the 1911 New York Giants
  • Erik Sherman’s Kings of Queens: Life Beyond Baseball with the ’86 Mets
http://www.bookreporter.com/sites/default/files/SELling.jpg http://www.bookreporter.com/sites/default/files/Stealing_0.jpg http://www.bookreporter.com/sites/default/files/Kings.jpg
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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61gSG7OeBFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpghttp://images.randomhouse.com/author/241329

You can pretty much count on a new book or two about the Yankees of Mets every year. But 2016 has a bonanza with titles covering not only the latter’s success in 2015, but the 30th anniversary of the World Championship 1986 squad.

On of these comes from Erik Sherman, who worked with Mookie Wilson’s on his memoirs last year, as well as earlier projects from Steve Blass and Glenn Burke.

Sherman’s latest, Kings of Queens: Life Beyond Baseball with the ’86 Mets, catches up with some of the most famous – and not so famous – members of that iconic team that was both a joy for what they accomplished, and a disappointment in that they couldn’t build on it.

I spoke with Sherman about the challenges in producing such a book.

Apologies for the little warbly audio, but we were having such a good chat I didn’t want to cut it short and the only way to get it in one podcast was to cut back on the bit rate a bit.

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you must be telepathic, because I’m not saying anything out loud.

But seriously, folks…

I will be speaking about “Jews and Baseball” this Sunday (April 17) at 7 p.m. at Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, NJ.

Open to the public, no charge, but it might be an idea to call them at 908-889-4900 and let them know you’re coming (not really sure of their policy).

Not to make  excuses, but preparing for this — not to mention working on the Hank Greenberg project — has been cutting into my blogging time.

Just so you know I haven’t abandoned you. I’m sure you were worried.

 

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Celebrating Jackie

April 15, 2016 · 0 comments

April 15 is “Jackie Robinson Day,” marking the anniversary of his debut in 1947. In honor of the occasion, every player wears his number, 42, causing no little bit of confusion for broadcasters, especially when you consider how defensive shifts move infielders out of their normal positions.

http://scpauctions.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/JRF-DAY-Jerseys-650x372.jpg

Robinson’s number is the only one retired from every single team. Mariano Rivera of the Yankees was the last player to wear 42, having been grandfathered in since it was his number before the decision was made by MLB.

Even though it’s not Throwback Thursday, I guess this previous Bookshelf entry highlighting books about Robinson qualifies for Flashback Friday.

I recommend, with some reservations, the new Ken Burns two-part documentary on Robinson which premiered on PBS earlier this week. The reason for my hesitation is two-fold. There’s no question that it beautifully produced, like all of Burns’ productions. But it’s just another same-old, same-old: evocative music, voice-over narratives, talking heads, archival footage that only tangentially has to do with the subject matter used because it looks nice. There has also been some discussion about the accuracy of some of the narrative and the “re-use” of material from Burns’ multi-episode Baseball, original aired in 1995. In other words, how much of this material is new?

Don’t get me wrong: Robinson is one of those figures who needs to be kept in the public consciousness. Goodness knows there are a lot of younger people who can’t fathom how important he was to American history. (Even older ones; remember Vince Coleman? Sadly, he wasn’t the only ballplayer who didn’t get it.) I guess when you take something like that into consideration, Burns’ project — coming almost a generation after his previous baseball work — is probably better/more important than I’ve been blathering about.

 

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Baseball Best-Sellers, April 15, 2016

2015 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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30 for 30 (baseball books), Week 1

2016 title

Recapping Tom Hoffarth’s entertaining and educational series: April 1: The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan April 2: Baseball Field Guide: An In-Depth Illustrated Guide to the Complete Rules of Baseball, by   Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger April 3: The Cardinals Way: How One Team […]

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National Pastime Radio: The Darling trifecta/Jeff Passan

2016 title

Might as well wind up with this: Ron Darling was a guest on the April 6 Leonard Lopate Show to hump his latest, Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life (which has gone up three spots since I posted the best-seller entry a few hours earlier). Darling, a Yale […]

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A Darling observation

"Oddballs"

In posting the weekly best-seller list, I usually include the image of a book making its Bookshelf debut. Notice how Author’s name. To me, it appears to be about 50 percent larger than the title of the book. Why is that? Inquiring minds want to know! Is it because Darling has become a national presence […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, April 8, 2016

"Annuals"

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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Is sabermetrics really that much of an improvement?

"Oddballs"

The new normal in baseball literature is to publish something — anything — that pushes baseball analytics as the only logical way to assemble a team. Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game may may have been the first “official” book to address the concept, but there have been several since its […]

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When newspapers were an actual thing

"Oddballs"

In addition to the regular reasons — the signaling of the start of summer, the lazy evenings, the smell of the grass, etc. — I love the beginning of the baseball season because of the previews in the newspapers. These have often come in the form of supplements of substantial length and breadth and tailored, […]

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The collectibles of the Times

"Oddballs"

The last page of today’s New York Times‘ art section features several wonderful baseball collectibles. The least expensive is a paperweight commemorating Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit for $19.95 plus shipping. The most expensive: a Pride of the Yankees original movie poster for $4,950. Other items include Jackie Robinson Story original movie poster ($1,950) Vintage baseball […]

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