Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

Sports Medley: Baseball Agony & Tom Brady 7 Sep 15

Asterisk: Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter against the Dodgers on August 30 should be accompanied by an asterisk in the record books because the Dodgers’ lineup consisted of four players, Joc Pederson, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and pitcher Alex Wood (only 9 at bats), almost half the lineup, who have a combined batting average of .214. Manager Don Mattingly’s insistence on using players who can’t hit (in the leadoff and #2 positions in the batting order, no less!) explains why the Dodgers are the first team since 1923 to be the victims of a no-hitter twice in the space of 9 days. I’d like a shot at Mattingly’s lineup and I haven’t thrown a baseball in decades.

Baseball Agony: The Dodgers-Giants game on August 31 went 14 innings and lasted 5 hours 29 minutes. In 1920, The Dodgers (then known as the Robins) and Boston Braves played to a 26 inning tie. The time of that game? 3 hours 50 minutes! So, today, a 14 inning game takes almost twice as long to play as a game that had almost double the number of  innings in 1920. Dodgers’ relief pitcher Chris Hatcher was the winning pitcher, but his pitching (and the umpiring) epitomized why baseball is last in popularity among the major sports. He was terminally slow. It was so annoying that I started timing his pitches, while yelling at the TV set, “Throw the ball!” He took 30 seconds for each pitch. Rule 8.04 is unambiguous:

“When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call Ball.” (emphasis added).

There’s no reason for all this nonsense. When I pitched in high school, I’d throw the pitch, get the ball back, get the sign, and throw another pitch; never more than 10 seconds between pitches, usually only 5. On August 31, the umpire never did one thing to speed up the game, even though the rules don’t just allow him to do it, they require him to do it. It’s up to the umpires to enforce this.

“Tired” baseball players, poor babies: When you hear managers moan that they have to “rest” their players and you watch them pull their pitchers after throwing 100 pitches, consider this. According to a recent study, here are the miles run per game by athletes competing in various sports:

Soccer: 9 1/2 miles.

NBA: 3 miles.

Tennis: 3-5 miles in a five set match.

Football: 1 ¼ miles.

Baseball: 100 yards.

Tom Brady’s “Victory?” The judge who decided the arbitration case in favor of Tom Brady just put a stamp of approval of what I wrote a few weeks ago, to wit,

Brady and New England fans should not lose heart, however, just because none of (Brady’s) arguments have any merit because the United States system of civil justice is corrupt to the core. Throughout the country judges make decisions based on how they feel regardless of the law…. In fact, my feeling is that the weaker the case, the better the odds the weak side will win.

Brady’s case was extraordinarily weak, in fact non-existent. Arbitration awards are historically not reviewable by courts unless there is fraud, and certainly not on the basis of a mistake of law or fact. Whether an arbitrator did not allow someone to testify the judge thought should have testified is beyond the reviewing judge’s purview. An arbitrator’s determinations are final and binding. Period. This judge’s opinion (which never reached the merits of the case; Tom Brady’s culpability is still undetermined) just emphasizes the fact that the U.S. system of civil justice is broken at the core.

Stupid is as Stupid Does: In the top of the fifth inning of a 1-1 tie against San Diego Sunday, Jimmy Rollins was thrown out trying to steal third with two outs and Justin Turner, the team’s best hitter, at the plate. This is as bonehead as one can get and it’s not the first time he’s done it, as reported by this column. It takes a single to score a runner from second or third with two out, so there is no earthly reason to try to steal third in this situation because the runner is already in scoring position when he’s on second. But it’s not Rollins’ fault alone. Doing it once is his fault. Doing it twice is the manager’s fault. Had Donnie Baseball criticized Rollins the first time, he wouldn’t have done it the second time. But that’s no excuse. Anybody who knows anything about baseball knows this is as senseless as it comes. It was poetic justice that Turner led off the next inning with a double that would have scored Rollins from second had he just stayed put.

Greatest Play Ever? I didn’t see the play Jackie Robinson made in the bottom of the 12th inning in the Dodgers’ last regularly scheduled game in 1951. The bases were loaded, score tied 8-8. The Giants had already won so the Dodgers had to win to get into a playoff for the pennant. With two outs and the bases loaded, Phillies’ first baseman Eddie Waitkus hit a shot, a line drive to the right of second base. It looked as if the game, and the Dodgers’ season, were over, but Robinson dove headfirst and caught the ball at the last second before it became the game winning hit, landing on his shoulder, saving the game and the season. He was so shaken by the dive that it took him several minutes to leave the field. Two innings later Jackie hit a home run to win the game and send the Dodgers into the playoff that ended with Bobby Thomson’s home run. While that might have been the greatest defensive play ever made by a second baseman, on Sunday, September 6, Justin Turner mirrored what I vision in my mind’s eye as Jackie’s play, and made the best play I’ve ever seen by a second baseman, diving to his right, stretching completely out, to knock down a line drive and then retrieving the ball and throwing from his knees to get the out.

Watch the Monitor, Vinny: On September 1, Vin Scully intoned, “Guess who’s coming up to the plate? Madison Baumgartner! Big Left-handed batter has five home runs,” as the camera zeroed in on Baumgartner standing in the box hitting right handed.

UCLA Football: It’s difficult to judge the Bruins because one doesn’t know if they are this good or UVA is just that bad. But one thing is certain, Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen is the most accurate UCLA passer I’ve seen since Rick Neuheisel in 1983, and that has nothing to do with the quality of UVA. His passes were all on target.