Monthly Archives: March 2020

New baseball reads for 2020: A safe place to find book recommendations

bca420371def8d13bff3052aee412a74By Tom Hoffarth

When will there be good news?

(OK, look at the book Stephen King is reading while attending a game at Fenway Park. … From a guy who wrote “Misery”?)

Our 2020 spring baseball book review has taken a new turn.  We are springing forward.

As the reviews continue three times a week on fartheroffthewall.com we will have the updated list here.

*Day 1 (March 17): “State of Play: The Old School Guide to New School Baseball,” by Bill Ripken.

xe4uGf6Q*Day 2 (March 19): “The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League,” by Anika Orrock

*Day 3 (March 20):  “The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Having Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime,” by Paul Dickson

*Day 4 (March 23): “Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won the World Series,” by Jesse Dougherty

STEALING HOME2*Day 5 (March 24): “Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between,” by Eric Nusbaum

*Day 6 (March 25): “The Cactus League,” by Emily Nemens

*Day 7 (March 26): “The Baseball Book of Why: The Answers to Questions You’ve Always Wondered About from America’s National Pastime,” by the late John C. McCollister

*Day 8 (March 31):“Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution,” by Jared Diamond

91bQ7s2k28L*Day 9 (April 1): “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife,” by Brad Balukjian

*Day 10 (April 2): “The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and their Brush with Baseball History,” by Jacob Kornhauser

The Ides have it: When a TV sports weekend marches from bizarro to retro, and no Nero to save us

By Tom Hoffarth

Beware the TV sports Ides of March, and this new refined madness amidst a gray and dreary Saturday.

It brings with it a double-edged sword and the need for a extra potent Bloody Mary.

encouragement-ides-of-march-caesar-better-someecardsCaesar may ended up with a better deal that the one we’re trying to endure.

Starting a weekend that is on the record as much bizarro as it is retro, perhaps we now have a clearer vision of what social distancing involves. It’s networks excavating programming that happened perhaps within recent memory, and then repackaging it as our antidote to the COVID-19 lock-down knockout punch.

A pandemic virus that shut down all major sports in the United States, prior to a decision by the government that it be declared a national emergency, gave us a heads-up that our weekend’s new normal would be turning our head around to watch what once happened.

Saturday, instead of the momentum building toward college basketball conference championship games on ESPN or Fox or, gasp, FS1, we were looking not-so-live at past Big Ten and Pac 12 title tilts, with more of the norm Sunday AM on CBS.

It’s as if ESPN Classic was being compromised against its will. It’s a classic case of having your pay-tier treasure trove looted in the name of serving the greater good of the bottom-feeders. Read more

An Angelus moment: How the Kobe Bryant Memorial helped inspire the Salesian High boys’ basketball team to an historic CIF moment

By Tom Hoffarth

Profound sadness and bittersweet hope filtered through song and testimony during the recent Kobe and Gianna Bryant Celebration of Life event at Staples Center.

Yet as they experienced all  that firsthand, a group of students, coaches, and faculty at Bishop Mora Salesian High School harnessed that energy to propel its boys basketball team on a historic run.

BISHOP_MORA_STUDENTS_1-1305x900Some 50 members of the Salesian basketball family were invited to attend the Bryant memorial on Feb. 24, a fruit of the relationship forged by the college-prep school of some 400 boys with Lakers executive Tim Harris, the team’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of business operations.

The inspiration the group of boys took away from the memorial is something team members are crediting with uniting their focus on the basketball court: the small but defensive-minded roster captured the CIF-Southern Section 3AA championship on Feb. 29, four days after the memorial. It’s the first title in the 60-plus-year history of the East L.A. school just minutes away from Staples Center.

Here’s more from our story in Angelus News.

 

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: USC’s women hoops from the ’80s resonates as a history lesson in HBO doc — and Doris Burke swears by it

By Tom Hoffarth
Cheryl Miller was, by all measurements, the greatest women’s basketball player. Not just in her time — the 1980s with USC — but for all time.

Skillful, explosive, matching it all with a bit of a showboating display she never ran from.
In all estimates, she was …

“She was a bad … mother … fucker,” says Doris Burke at one point in the new HBO documentary “Women of Troy.”

We include the quote not for shock effect. It seems there are some who can handle the language, and others who care to change it, or alter it, so that the meaning is diluted.

Our latest piece for the Los Angeles Times goes over the HBO doc and what makes it a compelling watch. Read more

Remembering Hank Gathers: A statue at LMU 30 years later, and the force of nature returns … along with the tears

It was just a moment. It came after the blousy material dropped to reveal a statue of basketball legend Hank Gathers, located just outside of Loyola Marymount’s Gersten Pavilion Feb. 29. It came after the faintest beat of a gasp was immediately followed by applause and cheers, broad smiles and — this being 2020 — selfies.

Still, there was a moment when, Chris Knight said, amid the laughter and hugs he shared with former teammates who played with Gathers, that he suddenly, in a fleeting space of silence, “could hear Hank’s mother crying above it all.”

For Angelus News, Steve Lowery walks us through the moment when the Gathers statue was unveiled 30 years after his death on the court, right before Easter, and the incredible run the Lions went on with the NCAA Tournament in his honor.

This is a tearjerker and breaks your heart all over again.