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’s Pitching Insanity Continues

by Tony Medley

Just Deserts: What occurred in Saturday’s Angels-Dodgers game was a sight for sore eyes, and it happens in virtually every game played every day in today’s baseball world. Angels’ pitcher Andrew Heaney was locked in a pitchers’ duel with Clayton Kershaw, trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. With a season’s ERA of 1.97, Heaney had allowed only 4 hits, striking out three while walking only two. With a runner on first base and one out in the bottom of the 6th, however, he was summarily pulled from a game in which he had pretty much total control.  In comes a reliever from the bullpen named Fernando Salas. The first batter he faced was switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal, who blasted Salas’ third pitch over the centerfield fence for a two run home run which proved decisive in a game that ended 3-1. So in three pitches, reliever Salas allowed twice as many runs as Heaney allowed in 5-1/3 innings.

Why Go With Your Best When Worse is Available? Undaunted, Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly pulled Kershaw after 8 innings of 2-hit pitching with one walk and 7 strikeouts. In came the Dodgers’ “closer,” Kenley Jansen, who had given up a run in each of his last two one-inning “closing” appearances. Jansen immediately gave up a walk, two hits, and a run and had the tying runs on base before he eventually got the last out. In one inning “closer” Jansen gave up as many hits and walks as Kershaw did in eight innings, and one more run.

I guess that answers the question that when the game is on the line, Mattingly would rather have someone from the bullpen, clearly inferior to Kershaw, on the mound rather than the guy most people say is the best pitcher in baseball. Who can accept that kind of noxious decision-making?

There are Three Kinds of Lies; Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: A similarly rewarding move for those who deplore today’s handling of pitchers came the next day in the top of the ninth with the Dodgers leading 3-2 and the tying run on second base with two outs. Mattingly bolted out of the dugout because it was time for another brilliant pitching change, based on lefty-righty percentages. He pulled left handed reliever J.P. Howell (who had thrown only 12 pitches), and inserted right hander Pedro Baez to pitch to right handed Angels Chris Iannetta. Why? Because Iannetta’s batting average against lefties was .245 v. .179 against righties (that’s six hits in every 100 at bats). The question should have been, however, who is the better pitcher, Howell or Baez? If Baez, why was Howell in the game in the first place? If Howell, why put in a weaker pitcher? Righty Iannetta promptly crushed Righty Baez’s first pitch (a belt high fastball over the center of the plate that I could have hit) miles over center fielder Joc Pederson’s head to drive in the tying run.

There’s an old baseball axiom that managers don’t win baseball games. Maybe so, but there should be a corollary, they sure can lose them, and in today’s baseball they lose them every day with the way they handle their pitchers.

As a postscript, for the record, the Dodgers won the game they should have won in regulation on a 10th inning home run by Andre Ethier. Baez got the win; how’s that for poetic injustice?

My Tongue Got In the Way of My Eye Tooth, So I Couldn’t See What I Was Saying:  In the second inning of Saturday’s game, umpire Chris Segal called Heaney’s 3-2 pitch a ball. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia was ejected for arguing that the pitch was a strike. As the TV showed a replay with the strike zone outlined that showed the pitch clearly within the strike zone, really not even close, Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully intoned over the replay that the ball missed the strike zone but that it “must have looked to Scioscia that it was over the plate.” Looked like that to everyone else, too, Vinny.