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Book Notes

February 13, 2014

Giants-Dodgers rivalry entertains


During all those years the only thing Giant fans could celebrate is denying the Dodgers. They spoiled their parties in 1962, 1971, and 1982 but the Dodgers returned the favor in 1993. The Giants often came close to winning the pennant but were usually the brides’ maid. The bottom line is that the Dodgers knew how to get over the hump and the Giants didn’t.

All that changed in 2010 when the Giants got hot at the end of the season and brought home their first World Series title. The victory parade drew 1.5 million delirious Giants’ fans who basked in a title that was over 50 years in the making. While the Dodgers floundered to regain their magic the Giants seemingly used mirrors to somehow win the title again in 2012.

I was reminded of the rivalry because of a recently published book by Joe Konte, “The Rivalry Heard ‘Round the World: The Dodgers-Giants Feud from Coast to Coast.”   Konte tells how the rivalry developed in New York and expounds on it after the teams moved west. He delves into statistics too much and is loath to criticize anyone but does provide an excellent overview of the intensity of the rivalry.

Konte gives a good summary of the teams’ growing distain for each other during their years in New York. It was sad to see the end of their playing days in Manhattan and Brooklyn, especially the demise of the Dodgers’ legendary Ebbets Field. There are still people in Brooklyn who have never gotten over losing the Dodgers.

The author also gives a good feel for the way S.F. and L.A. embraced the teams when they first moved west. There was something nostalgic about their temporary ballparks, Seals Stadium and the L.A. Coliseum, where the teams first played after moving west. When their new stadiums were ready Los Angeles unveiled the beautifully designed Chavez Ravine while the Giants ended up in a dump called Candlestick Park (where else could you find Arctic conditions in August?). Thank goodness they ended up in the gorgeous AT&T Park in the year 2000.

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Book Notes
  • Early 'blahs' sometimes hide a gem There are often films that sound rather "blah" when you first notice them and have no interest in seeing. It's usually due to the preview either being really stupid or the producers wanting to avoid giving away too much of the plot. If it's the latter category you must be careful. Sometimes there's a gem of a movie hidden behind the facade.

    July 24, 2014

  • 'Moneyball' author tackles Wall Street with 'Flash Boys' Have you ever read a book that feels like it's in a foreign language? It covers a subject you know is important and figure at some point it will all make sense. What do you do when that doesn't happen? Obviously, the easiest solution is to toss the book aside. But what if the underlying message is something you "get" and don't want to give up on? I faced that dilemma recently.

    July 17, 2014

  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

    July 10, 2014

  • 'The Monuments Men' shows important history World War II continues to hold a special place in the hearts of readers and movie goers. The reasons are many but much of it can be traced to the endless number of storylines from that conflict. There is literally a treasure trove of material that keeps emerging. The latest example is the movie, “The Monuments Men.â€�

    July 3, 2014

  • Authors not afraid to think like freaks Conventional wisdom is something we automatically take for granted. It can be something as simple as assuming there is no cure for the common cold or political polls being a good indicator of who will win an election. Common assumptions of course can be wrong but we usually just accept them as fact. However, in many cases it would be much better to think "outside the box" and consider an alternative way of looking at the world.

    June 26, 2014

  • Book goes further into Armstrong's lies There hasn't been a shortage of elite athletes that have fallen from grace in recent years. Most of them have been baseball players who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then lying about it. Golfer Tiger Woods fell from his pedestal because of extra-marital affairs. He has yet to regain his previous aura and perhaps never will. But the loudest crash of all came from cyclist Lance Armstrong who was not only a liar and a cheat but ruined other people's lives in the process.

    June 19, 2014

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    June 12, 2014

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    June 5, 2014

  • Movie gives clues into real Disney Everyone has heard of Walt Disney. How can you not when Disneyland and Disney World are the most popular family vacation spots around. Add in his historic cartoons and animated features and you have a Hollywood legend. But how many people know what the man himself was like?

    May 29, 2014

  • Wooden bio by Davis feels definitive Any long-time observer of college basketball knows that one school and one coach stand out above all others. In the 1960s and 1970s the John Wooden-led UCLA Bruins won ten championships in twelve seasons. Their level of achievement is so remarkable that it will probably never be equaled. Forty years after his last championship the ghost of John Wooden still reverberates at the university.

    May 22, 2014