By Ben Platt / MLB.com
Their most recent World Series championship season of 1988 is chronicled in great detail in Josh Suchon’s new book, “Miracle Men,” available in bookstores now. For the author, who grew up rooting for the Oakland A’s in the Bay Area, writing a story about the underdog team from Los Angeles that destroyed his powerhouse Athletics was somewhat cathartic.
“That team broke my heart as a kid,” said Suchon, who co-hosted Dodgertalk from 2008-11 and is now the play-by-play announcer for the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. “I was devastated when that team won the World Series. Dodger fans look at that Kirk Gibson home run as one of the best moments of their life — it was one of the worst moments of my life.
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born in New York a day after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and he never forgets the UCLA predecessor who made so much possible for him.
“The prevailing racial attitude of the day held that blacks lacked the athletic skill, courage and intelligence to play against whites,” Abdul-Jabbar recalls. “Yet, every time Jackie took the field, he played with an intensity and skill that immediately set him apart from the average second baseman.
“Even fans who hated black people were forced to admit that Jackie Robinson was a superior athlete, and every time that happened, another part of the racial barrier crumbled. His fierce competitive nature and his ability to intellectually master the game were examples for young athletes like me to emulate.”
Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time NBA scoring king who turns 66 next Tuesday, wrote that in his foreword for “Fortitude: The Exemplary Life of Jackie Robinson.”
My old friend--and by old I refer both to the duration of our friendship as well to his nonagenarian status--Ray Robinson has written a new book(let). It has been published more or less to coincide with Opening Day, that national celebration of hope. My hope is that one day, when I grow up, I can be like him.
As an impressionable lad I read Ray's stories at SPORT Magazine and his annual paperback volumes, published under the rubric Baseball Stars.
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
For anyone who followed the Red Sox closely from 2004-11, Terry Francona’s new book is not only a must read, but it is a fascinating and entertaining look into the daily life on Yawkey Way during that memorable time period.
The 343-page book — titled Francona: The Red Sox Years – was written by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, with full access from co-author Francona, and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The book is full of nuggets that Sox fans — and even media members who follow the team on an everyday basis — weren’t privy to during perhaps the most memorable eight-year run in team history.
While there was plenty of publicity from the Sports Illustrated excerpt that highlighted some of Francona’s gripes with Red Sox owner John Henry, president/CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner, the book involves so much more for avid Sox fans to chew on.
by T.R. Sullivan/MLB.com
Ichiro Suzuki is a great hitter, but he is also the man behind an iron façade. Few know much about him other than the fact he has been a hit machine in his 12 years in the Major Leagues.
Former MLB.com beat reporter and long-time baseball writer Jim Street offers readers insights into the personality of Suzuki — and other players, coaches, managers and executives — in his entertaining and recently published memoir, “Life From the Press Box.” Read the full MLB.com article
by Spencer Fordin/MLB.com
Nate Silver is dragging the art of prognostication into the future, far beyond the furthest reaches of divining rods and devotees to the long-dead prose of Nostradamus.
Silver, the auteur of political blog FiveThirtyEight and the creator of the PECOTA projection system for Baseball Prospectus, has brought his keen statistical mind to the way humans forecast the future in his new book, “The Signal And The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t.”
That work, which took more than three years to finish, is an engaging look at how human beings in all walks of life use probability to best handicap the future. Silver, using a firm grasp of statistics and a sturdy sense of humor, had set out in this direction before with both of his prior projects.
PECOTA was designed to compare baseball prospects to each other and to forecast their future, while FiveThirtyEight strives to make sense of the many political polls that sometimes seem in conflict with each other. Silver, in other words, separates the signal from the noise for a living.
And in his book, which came out Monday, Silver uses his same scholarly diligence and conversational style to explain some difficult concepts. He breaks down how poker players think at the table, for instance, and explains that it’s less about counting cards than hedging your bets. more
By Mark Newman
One year ago, his Cardinals were finishing the month of August a whopping 8 1/2 games out of the National League Central and NL Wild Card races. And that was after they had started a modest run. They had been 10 1/2 games out just a few days earlier.
No one comes back from a late hole like that to win a World Series. No one suddenly announces after the parade that his perfect ending is complete. No human writes a book the next year about what it was like inside a dream like that and puts it in the non-fiction aisle.
There is only one La Russa, though. His first memoir, titled One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season, written with Hall of Fame Spinks Award-winning baseball scribe Rick Hummel, will be released on Sept. 25 by HarperCollins and available in the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will post three exclusive videos between now and then, based on his recent visit to the MLB.com studios for excerpt readings about the historic World Series Game 6. More
I am not a voracious reader of baseball books. I do read them from time-to-time, but I tend to gravitate towards books on politics, current events or American history. One baseball book that I highly recommend is Intangibles: Big League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game—in Baseball and in Life. The author is my friend, Geoff Miller, a Mental Skills Coach with the Atlanta Braves (I also wrote the Foreword for the book, but that’s beside the point.) My point is every once in a while a “must read” baseball book comes along, and this is one of them. People who know me think that I love numbers. The reality is that I love understanding how things work and I love decision processes. Numbers, if selected thoughtfully, just happen to be an outstanding vehicle to explain how things work and to improve decision processes for big league clubs. Understanding and appreciating the mental aspects of baseball is the perfect complement to a player’s stats or a scout’s ratings of a player’s tools.
Anyone who is passionate about the game of baseball, or is connected to it in some way, wants to understand the mind of the ballplayer. What makes him tick? How does he marshal his talents during a high pressure moment to perform? How does he prepare for an upcoming encounter with his opponent? These are the types of questions discussed in Intangibles—from the vantage point of an expert teacher and the athletes and coaches he’s encountered. Many of Geoff’s stories stem from his experiences with the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of his former employers. He has a rare and unique ability to grasp the bigger picture from his various coaching experiences, and it comes through in his writing. More
From Curt Smith’s Voices of The Game blog:
To some, progress means bulldozing the past. “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers,” rued actor James Earl Jones, “erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again.” Steamrolled: battlefields, historic shrines, even homes by eminent domain.
“Only baseball has marked the time,” said Jones, forgetting, say, Ebbets Field, Forbes Field, and the Polo Grounds — each pummeled by the wrecking ball: falling to, nor marking, time. A decade ago Boston’s Fenway Park, born in 1912, seemed sure to join them: too few suites and concession stands; too little parking – above all, too small.
If you’ll forgive an unpaid ad, my new book, Mercy! A Celebration of Fenway Park’s Centennial told Through Red Sox Radio and TV (Potomac Books, $27.50), tells how baseball’s oldest park was improbably preserved. More
By Evan Drellich of MLB.com
Somehow, Bob Salomon — a 46-year-old state worker from New Jersey — has assembled an inner circle of pro ballplayers and athletes, a group that’s helped him as much as he’s supported them.
It took nine months before they’d listen to him. Now he’s the one taking their calls.
“Seconds after speaking with Bob, I knew his intentions were good and his mission mirrored mine, which is to have an impact on kids through the game of baseball,” retired Royals star Mike Sweeney said. “I immediately said, ‘Hey, I’m all in, and I’ll team up with you in any way I can.’”
The mission for Salomon starts and ends with a benevolent cause. In 2008, he teamed up with authors to create a A Glove of Their Own, an illustrated children’s book. The story centers around underprivileged kids who play baseball with the help of a donation of a bag of equipment from an old coach. They take that kindness and determine when they grow up, no child should go without a glove — that they should pay it forward. What started out as a book, Salomon hopes will continue as a full-fledged movement surrounding that idea for the benefit of children. More