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.

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

Sports Medley: The Unwelcome Return of Don Mattingly: 22 May 17

by Tony Medley

It wasn’t just the abysmal handling of pitchers that drove me to my low opinion of Don Mattingly as a manager. He handled pitchers the same absurd way all 30 managers in the big leagues do. In fact, the Dodgers present managerial incumbent is even worse than Mattingly, probably the worst I’ve ever seen.

No, what convinced me that Mattingly didn’t know his elbow from third base was his inability to recognize that Justin Turner was the Dodgers’ best hitter in 2014, something about which I constantly carped throughout the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Although he didn’t have nearly enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, Turner had the second highest batting average in all of baseball in 2014, .340. Despite this, when the Dodgers made the playoffs Turner was ensconced firmly on the bench. In four playoff games, with the Dodgers losing three of them by the total margin of four runs, Mattingly could only find two pinch-hitting appearances for his best hitter. It’s certainly not unreasonable to think that had Turner been starting all the games, the extra offense he would have provided would have resulted in the Dodgers winning at least two of the games they lost and, therefore, would have won the series.

Mattingly kept him on the bench in 2015, too. Even though Turner hit .294, Mattingly again didn’t give him enough playing time to qualify for the batting title.

But what raises the question of Mattingly’s common sense once again is the brouhaha that arose last week when Mattingly threw a hissy fit because Corey Seager swung at a 3-0 pitch in the seventh inning of a game in which the Dodgers were leading by six runs. Apparently Mattingly felt that this violated one of baseball’s absurd “unwritten rules” which states that when a team gets a big lead it will not steal bases or swing at 3-0 pitches. There is little more irrational in baseball than this kind of reasoning, but it is consistent with the way they handle pitchers.

One thing unique about baseball is that, unlike football and basketball which are timed contests, the game is not over until the last out. In the sixth game of the 1986 World Series Boston was leading the Mets by 2 runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and nobody on base. Only one out to go to win the World Series, yet they lost the game. An even more glaring example occurred on August 21, 1990 when the Dodgers were leading the Phillies 11 to 3 entering the ninth inning. The Phillies scored nine runs to win the game 12 to 11.

So the idea that a team leading by six runs should just roll over and play dead for the rest of the game is total nonsense. If this were the case, why not just have a team that achieves a six run lead give up its times at bat and simply let the losing team have their times at bat for the rest of the game? When a team is ahead by six runs does the other team agree not to steal bases and not swing at 3-0 pitches for the rest of the game? Of course not.

Baseball’s “unwritten rule” is ridiculous and Mattingly throwing a tantrum because Corey Seager swung at a 3-0 pitch in the seventh-inning just confirms how intellectually unqualified he is to be a major league manager.

That said, Roberts is in a league of his own when it comes to the quality of “managing.” Despite the fact that Chris Taylor, .333, has been the Dodgers’ hottest hitter all year long after Turner, Roberts claims that he will have to share the job at second base with Chase Utley until Turner returns and then Logan Forsythe, who has a .256 lifetime batting average, will be the regular second baseman and Taylor will hit the bench. Apparently Taylor is to Roberts as Turner was to Mattingly. Neither manager can recognize talent even when it hits them square in the face. When someone is hot, isn’t it just common sense to keep him in the lineup?