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Book Notes

January 10, 2013

Local author's book debunks baseball myths

(Continued)

Deane deserves a lot of credit because to disprove many of the myths of baseball requires detailed analysis of baseball statistics, box scores and historical records of the game. The author clearly is a statistical junkie. He belongs to an organization called Society of American Baseball Research, which includes people like himself who have an extraordinary love for the game, its statistics and its history.

Many of the myths are a relief to know aren’t true. Ty Cobb was one of the least-liked players in the game so it’s not surprising that some of the negative stories about him take on a life of their own. I was under the assumption that he once won a batting title over Shoeless Joe Jackson by deliberately being cold and standoffish to his “friend” and impressionable fellow Southerner to depress Jackson and affect his hitting. Cobb ended up batting .420 that year and Jackson .408. Thanks to Deane’s research of the newspaper accounts of that time he proves that the cold shoulder routine could not have occurred.

The movie “Eight Men Out” about the 1919 Black Sox scandal where some of the White Sox players accepted bribes to throw the World Series implies the rationale for pitcher Eddie Cicotte’s involvement was that White Sox owner Charles Comiskey cheated him out of a $10,000 bonus for winning 30 games by ordering him benched after winning 29. Deane proves that it was just Hollywood taking huge artistic license. There is no evidence that there was some dastardly plot to undermine Cicotte or that there was even a bonus offered at all.

Sometimes a myth can be based on a popular jingle. One of the most famous in baseball is the one involving the Chicago Cubs’ infielders, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. A baseball writer wrote a poem that had the famous tag line, “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” It implied they were a great double-play combination, but the records showed they were average at best. Their real claim to fame, other than the jingle, is that they played together for 11 straight years.

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    August 21, 2014

  • Despite good reviews some movies disappoint Sometimes a popular movie can be difficult to evaluate. It may be a hit at the box office, receive great reviews, and earn multiple Oscar nominations. But what if it didn't really do it for you? How do you rip a film that clearly appeals to the masses? I faced that dilemma with one of the top grossing releases of 2013. I guess I learned that everyone has different tastes.

    August 14, 2014

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    August 7, 2014

  • Biography of Neil Armstrong shines light on space program We just celebrated the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. We all remember Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, uttering those famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.â€� It was an exciting time for our country and the world. There was talk of a mission to Mars by 1980. Instead, we haven’t been to the moon since 1972 and manned space exploration has become an afterthought. What happened?

    July 31, 2014

  • 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

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    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

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    July 3, 2014

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    June 26, 2014

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