Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Author appearance: Gelf's Varsity Letters

http://www.gelfmagazine.com/images/articles/VL_logo_newer.jpgWish I’d had more advance notice on this, but…

Varsity Letters returns to the Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, April 23, for a look at all things baseball.

Legendary broadcaster Ed Lucas and his son Chris will discuss their new memoir, Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles.

They’ll be joined by Matthew Silverman, a die-hard Mets fan and author of Baseball Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Baseball.

The free event will take place at The Gallery at LPR in Manhattan’s West Village, 158 Bleecker St. (between Sullivan St. and Thompson St.), NYC. Attendees must be 21 or older, as per LPR rules. (E-mail michael@gelfmagazine.com if you are under 21 and would like to attend the events.)

Doors open at 7:00. Event starts at 7:30.

Author appearance: Gelf's Varsity Letters

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pursuant to the previous piece re: Paul Auster’s suggestions on how to shorten the games, I offer this reboot of the seventh-inning stretch “anthem”:

Take me out

Buy me some peanuts.

I don’t care.

Let us root root for the laundry;

If they don’t win, meh.

For it’s two strikes, you’re out.

The end.

(Time of game: 2:10)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Upcoming author events

http://baristanet.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/ygoi_museum.JPGThe Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, NJ, will host an appearance by Steve Kettmann, author of Baseball Maverick, tomorrow (April 18) at 2 p.m. Joining Kettmann will be Sandy Alderson, the subject of the book. The program begins at 2 p.m. Cost is $30 and includes admission to the museum for you and one guest and a copy of the book. To RSVP, call 973-655-2378.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fEmEJyoZVyg/UDN9nFfnJDI/AAAAAAAALP0/8R7ioXGgLLY/s1600/DSC01142c.jpegThe Bergino Baseball Clubhouse (67 East 11 Street, NYC) features several writers in the weeks ahead. First up, Jennifer Ring, author of A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball) on Thursday, April 23. Jim Kaat, former Major League pitcher and current broadcaster will discuss If These Walls Could Talk: New York Yankees on Friday, May 8. The following Wednesday (May 13), Bill Pennington will talk about Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius. A week later (May 20), Jeff Katz, the Mayor of Cooperstown, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, will be on hand for Split Season: 1981. Steve Steinberg, co-author with Lyle Spatz on The Colonel and Hug, brings the busy month to a close on Thursday, May 28. Admission to all programs, which begin at 7 p.m., are free but reservations are required as the space if charming but limited. Call 212-226-7150 or email the Clubhouse to RSVP or for further information.

By the way, your Bergino host, Jay Goldberg, records all the author conversations and posts them as podcasts. You can find them here under “categories.”



Upcoming author events

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Bookshelf Conversation: Steve Kettmann

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2149169!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_400/kettmann-web.jpgBooks about the business and businesspeople of baseball are becoming more available these days; I devote a whole chapter on the topic in 501 Baseball Books.

I think fans tend to forget that the people who run baseball aren’t born to the position. Just like everybody, they grow into the job, based on years of experience. One of the more talked abut titles this year — for various reasons — is Steve Kettmann’s Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets. Kettmann starts with Alderson’s military career as a major point in explaining the veteran executive’s philosophy, expectations, and strategies. Alderson was with the Oakland As and was Billy Beane’s mentor at the dawn of the Moneyball era.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nSPnseTEL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgKettmann has written his own books; worked as a ghostwriter, notably for Jose Canseco’s memoir Juiced; and served as an editor for a Game Time: A Baseball Companion,  a compilation of Roger Angell’s New Yorker essays. I spoke with Kettmann last week about the varying degrees of difficulties in the disparate projects.

Kettman and Alderson will be at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, NJ, on Saturday, April 18 from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost is $30 (includes book, admission and one guest). To RSVP call (973) 655-2378. Maybe I’ll see you there. For you west coasters who can’t make it to Jersey, he’ll be at Books Inc. in Alameda in the 22nd. More info on that one here.

Click here for more information about Baseball Maverick.

The Bookshelf Conversation: Steve Kettmann

Friday, April 10, 2015

NEW STUFF: 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…

Note: Just like Chuck Lorre’s “vanity cards” at the end of The Big Bang Theory, you should read these list stories to their conclusion; the end is always changing, even though the theme is basically the same, finishing up with a self-promotional message.

So without further ado, here are the top ten baseball books as per Amazon.com, as of this posting.

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. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jEwL7U0CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBilly Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington

  2. Giant Splash: Bondsian Blasts, World Series Parades, and Other Thrilling Moments by the Bay, by Andrew Baggarly

  3. Baseball Prospectus 2015

  4. The Real McCoy: My Half Century with the Cincinnati Reds, by Hal McCoy

  5. Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter. (Bookshelf review here).

  6. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis

  7. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

  8. 100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball, by Douglas Lyons (Bookshelf review here)

  9. Championship Blood: The 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, by Brian Murphy

  10. Fantasy Baseball for Smart People: How to Profit Big During MLB Season, by Jonathan Bales

Here’s the April list of New York Times sports best-seller list (10 plus 10 more). Jeter Unfiltered rises to number six, while John Feinstein’s Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball joins the fun at number 12. There’s no indication whether these are hardcover, paperbacks, or combined, but given that the Feinstein title has been out for a couple of years, I’m guessing “combined.” It’s also interesting to note that the books are not linked to a vendor site (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, other). Perhaps the Times thinks it unseemly to to try make a few cents via referrals. I obviously have no such qualms.

Now that the season is under way, there are fewer books that would be used as research material for fantasy teams. Populating the list are bios and memoirs about Billy Martin and veteran sports scribe Hal McCoy. I’ve had a chance to read the Martin book and found it excellent (look for my review as part of a larger baseball book feature on Bookreporter.com in the next couple of weeks).

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. It made a brief surge last week to the 123,000 range but has dropped to 637,000-ish since.Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right? Just one or two purchases can move a book up a couple hundred thousand spots. If you have read it, 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.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Will probably have a great time; wish I could be there

But if you’re in Chicago next Monday, perhaps you can partake:

Imperfect Perfect Game: Baseball Writing in America

When: Monday, April 13, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Where: Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, Chicago, IL

Speakers: Lester Munson and John Schulian

Abstract: There is a special affinity between baseball and the writers who cover it. For much of the twentieth century, baseball accounted for some of the most colorful and conscientious reporting among newspaper and magazine sports coverage. Baseball even ascended to the heights of great American literature, capturing the imaginations of such novelists as Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, and John Updike. How does baseball inspire such representation in the media and other forms of cultural production? Has the quality of baseball writing changed? If so, how might changes within the sport itself account for it? In what ways does writing on baseball reflect larger trends in American society and culture? Two great sports writers, Lester Munson and John Schulian, will step up to the plate to discuss these and other questions as we anticipate another hopeful baseball season for our city.

This program is free and no reservations are required. “Conversations at the Newberry” is sponsored by Sue and Melvin Gray.

Click here for more information.

Will probably have a great time; wish I could be there

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Truth in advertising

http://www.theplayerstribune.com/wp-content/themes/tpt1/img/logo-black.pngOkay, it’s not actually advertising, but The Player’s Tribune, an on-line “magazine’ founded by the recently-retired Derek Jeter, has come under some scrutiny lately.

TPT purports to “publish first-person stories directly from the athletes” (emphasis added). Maybe there’s a difference of opinion on the definition of “directly.”

Richard Sandomir, the New York Times’ sports media writer, did a feature on TPT recently following a story contributed by the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz. Among other things, Sandomir wrote

Like nearly every post on the site, the Ortiz essay was not written directly by its bylined athlete but instead crafted from a recorded interview with a Tribune staff producer. Hoenig [Gary Hoenig, the editorial director of TPT] said these interviews are less traditional question-and-answer sessions than monologues with questions to nudge the conversation along. Editing is minimal, he added, and the athletes get the final approval. The staff producers who talk to them do not get bylines.

Providing athletes with unfettered access to fans carries with it the risk that they will lie or shade the truth. Is everything in Ortiz’s essay absolutely accurate? Are the athletes’ first-person accounts being vetted and edited as if they were being published by a more traditional journalistic enterprise?

Again, emphasis added. In fact — blanket statement — all future italics are my emphasis.

Awful announcing.com picked up on this.

 It may not be shocking to many that most of the well-written pieces appearing on the site aren’t actually just the result of a professional athlete sitting down at a keyboard, but the actual discussion of this process raises plenty of questions. The way The Players’ Tribune presents its pieces is at best disingenuous, and it’s problematic from a couple of standpoints.

First off, there’s the nature of the portrayal. Having these pieces appear under an athlete’s byline, with no addition of “With [journalist],” suggests they’re actually written by the athlete. They may be using the athlete’s words, but it’s the uncredited producers who are actually assembling them into a piece. Yes, Hoenig says editing is minimal, and yes, athletes are signing off on the final pieces, but presenting these pieces as if they’re essays carefully crafted by the athletes themselves rather than assembled from interviews gives the wrong impression and context to readers. It also does adisservice to the athletes (and other prominent figures) who do actually write their own material.

There’s also the issue of credit. Ghostwriting is anything but new in sports, especially in the world of sports books, but at least “autobiographies” where a journalist has assembled from interviewing the athlete typically have the decency to credit said journalist (albeit typically in a much smaller font, using “with”). That’s good for the journalist and for the overall product; it illustrates more clearly where the content is coming from. Heck, even the McDonald’s advertorial interviews with athletes in Sports Illustrated include the name of the interviewer. Producers at The Players’ Tribune may have signed on with the understanding they wouldn’t get credit for crafting these pieces, and that’s their right. However, leaving their names off these pieces presents an incomplete picture to readers of what exactly this content is. Leaving out writers’ credits also reinforces the lack of value ascribed to writers in general, especially in the sports world. Sports is usually very clear and specific about who did what, as players get credit for their statistics. We wouldn’t say that a writer hit a game-winning home run actually hit by Ortiz, so why is the reverse acceptable?

Another question here is if there’s value in “first-person” pieces at all. This style of writing’s become more and more prominent lately, especially in books, but another media example comes from SI doing so on their Jason Collins scoop (which, at least online, carried no mention of Franz Lidz, who actually wrote the piece). The advantage of this style is it can present athletes’ feelings and thoughts more easily, and if they’re accurately reflected by the writer, it’s not always bad. However, the disadvantage is that there’s understandable audience skepticism with any first-person piece that’s not completely written by the person whose byline appears on it. It’s impossible for readers to know how much of the piece (and not just the words, the arrangement) is actually coming from the supposed source, and while “first-person” may make for interesting reads, it sets off some warning flags about what exactly this content is.

Truth in advertising