Tribe and Cavs Bringing a Potent One-Two Punch

Not to be too woo-woo about being a Cleveland sports fan, but over the past year the Tribe and CAVs do seem to win in sometimes uncanny tandem. I’ll first cite the Indians’ 14-game winning streak last June, mounted during the same few weeks the CAVs were storming through the Eastern Conference of the NBA, on their way to meeting Golden State in the finals, when for the first time in league history, a team—the CAVS—overcame a 3-games-to-1 deficit. They won the franchise’s first NBA title,* and the city’s first pro sports championship in 52 years.**

So, early in the first weeks of the new baseball season, the pattern seems to be holding. Yesterday, the following sports event occurred over the span of about six hours:

  • In the afternoon the Indians overcame a 2-0 deficit in the late innings to beat the Twins, 6-2, thus sweeping a series on the road in Minnesota, 3-0.
  • Last night, as is being widely reported in sports and general media today, the CAVs pulled off a parallel, yet far more remarkable feat.
  • On the road, in Indianapolis, up 2-0 in a best-of-7 series versus the Pacers—after trailing by as much as 26 points in the 2nd quarter, and 25 at halftime—they outscored the Pacers 70-40 in the 2d half and won the game 119-114, to go up 3-0 in their first round playoff series. This, it turns out was, the greatest 2nd half comeback in playoff history.

* When the CAVs began as an NBA expansion team in 1970, I was a teenager, and in their inaugural season began attending games with my father and two siblings at the ratty old Cleveland Arena.  They were lovable losers (mostly) in those days. In their 46 years as an organization the CAVs had some very good teams and great players, with deep runs into the NBA playoffs many times, though they had lost both of their previous Finals trips, in 2008 and 2015, making the comeback versus the Warriors in 2016 so very special. 

** Seeing the CAVs win the NBA title last June was especially sweet, because I had attended the game the last time a Cleveland team won a pro sports title. That was in 1964, when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts 27-0 to win the NFL championship, then pro football’s ultimate crown, two years before the first Super Bowl was played. Here’s a blog post I wrote about that game. I was ten years old.

Three New Books I’ve Agented, Each Coming out in 2017

Very pleased to share the announcement of three forthcoming books that as literary agent I’ve placed with major publishers in recent weeks. See info pasted in below as text and screenshot from my Publishersmarketplace.com page.

Fiction

Editor of The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure*, Dungeons & Dragons early team member and noted RPG designer Lawrence Schick, aka Lawrence Ellsworth, with The Red Sphinx, a new translation of the forgotten sequel to Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, continuing the heroic tale of Cardinal Richelieu and his implacable enemies, in a nice deal for World Rights to Claiborne Hancock of Pegasus Books as a lead title for them in Winter 2017, by Philip Turner, Philip Turner Book Productions.*

Nonfiction/Sports
Gathered from decades drawing and writing about our greatest athletes and sports figures, sports cartoonist Murray Olderman, a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, with The Draw of Sports, a full career retrospective with 160 portraits and profiles, with Muhammad Ali, Yogi Berra, Kobe Bryant, Billie Jean King, Vince Lombardi, Jackie Robinson, etc., in a nice deal for World Rights to Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics, for publication in 2017, by Philip Turner, Philip Turner Book Productions.

Nonfiction/History/Politics/Current Affairs
Author of How the Cold War Began**, longtime Russian security services specialist and fluent Russian speaker Amy Knight’s ORDERS FROM ABOVE: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, a true-crime political thriller examining the role of targeted violence in contemporary Russia, in a nice deal for World Rights to Thomas Dunne at Thomas Dunne Books, St Martin’s Press, for publication in 2017, by Philip Turner, Philip Turner Book Productions.

* In 2014, I blogged about The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure, Lawrence Ellsworth’s earlier book.

** Earlier this year, I blogged about Amy Knight’s new project, and on a previous book of hers, How the Cold War Began, which I published with her at Carroll & Graf Publishers in 2006.

Hoping Lebron Extends His University of Akron Support to the School’s Publishing Arm

My news reading this morning included quite a synchronous twofer:

1) Here I read about the staggering generosity of Lebron James’ gift of full scholarships to attend University of Akron for more than 1100 Akron high school students—a philanthropic package with about a $41M value.
2) Then I read the latest update in another University of Akron story, this one involving the school’s scholarly publishing arm. Last week, local outlets and Publishers Weekly reported University of Akron Press would be shuttered, as part of wider cost-cutting measures at the school (ending the jobs of more than 150 people, including the press’s staff). Thankfully, today brings news that amid a spontaneous campaign by press supporters, university administrators have rehired two of the press’s staffers, and affirmed they’ll take “all steps necessary” to make sure the press “maintains its well-earned reputation as a vibrant, active academic press.”

I’m sure this was the first time I’d encountered two important stories about the University of Akron one after another like this and so wrote this waggish tweet.

Lebron James’ 10-Year Old Son, Already Dashing to the Hoop, Hitting Circus Shots&Making Great Passes

Lebron James ‘s 10-year son, known as Bronny, is already a skilled basketball player. Catch what he does on the court against kids his own age in this 2-minute video.

Remembering the Late Jim Brosnan, Major League Pitcher and Trailblazing Athlete-Author

Jim Brosnan, APWonderful NY Times obit of the pitcher-writer whose first book, The Long Season, a diary of a major league season, ushered in the modern genre of realistic baseball literature, preceding Jim Bouton’s more celebrated Ball Four by more than a decade. Delighted to find a line quoted in it from sportswriter at the time, later publisher, and a book biz friend, Al Silverman*. In a Saturday Evening Post profile at the time, Silverman wrote: “Brosnan is quite possibly the most intellectual creature ever to put on a major league uniform.”

In 1990, after Brosnan’s book, and Bouton’s, were established as classics of contemporary sports literature, I had the privilege of publishing the 20th anniversary edition of Ball Four, shown below. In 2002, I got to publish another gem of sports lit, a posthumous short story collection called The Heavenly World Series, by Frank O’Rourke, whose example was opposite to that later established by the two pitcher-authors. O’Rourke was professionally a sports reporter, and a pretty good ballplayer; he got invited to a spring-training tryout with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1948 major league season. Though he didn’t make the team, he later used the experience to write brilliant short fiction from the viewpoints of ballplayers themselves. From the flap copy: “A writer who belongs alongside Ring Lardner and Mark Harris [O’Rourke] captures the essence of baseball in elegiac, unsentimentalized fiction that blends dazzling description of on-the-field action with compassionate off-the-field portraits. Pennant races, old veterans passing down their wisdom to rookies, and an unforgettable dash around the bases by a player modeled on the young Jackie Robinson highlight these unforgettable tales.”

Here are covers of the Brosnan, Bouton, and O’Rourke books:

*Silverman is also an author, of the marvelous oral history, The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Publishers, Their Editors, and Authors.

The Day Gandhi Pinch-hit for the Yankees

In honor of April Fool’s Day and the start of the new Major League Baseball season, I’m re-reading and sharing a very clever New Yorker sketch–Chet Williamson’s “Gandhi at the Bat,” in which the writer imagines a ballgame where the Mahatma, or the “Nabob of Nonviolence,” one of many funny names the author assigns him, played an inning with the 1933 Yankees, including Babe Ruth.  I love the whole piece, especially the set-up. The sketch is viewable below. You may hit the pause button in the blog’s slideshow to read each page (Apologies to Mr. Williamson, who I want to add has had a very interesting career, and The New Yorker for scanning and screen-grabbing my old clipping.)New Yorker baseball sketchChet Williamson sketch

#FridayReads, October 25–Grant Lawrence’s “The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie”

Lonely End of the Rink#FridayReads, October 25–Grant Lawrence’s The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie. Very excited to begin reading my copy of the new book by my friend, Canadian broadcaster Grant Lawrence, which just landed in my mailbox this afternoon. The book, which chronicles his uneasy relationship with the Canadian national sport, was officially launched last night with an event in Vancouver, BC. Grant loves to meet with booksellers and readers and is one of the hardest working authors I’ve ever observed. On his website you can find details on the extensive book tour he’s taking, with stops in many Canadian cities between now and December 12.Lonely End back cover

I loved Grant’s first book Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and other Stories from Desolation Sound, a memoir of the many summers he’s spent in the wilds of coastal British Columbia, in the environs of a family cabin on the vividly named Desolation Sound. It went to #1 on the BC Bestseller List, won the BC Book Prize for the 2010 Book of the Year, an award given by booksellers, and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction. I’m hoping for similar success for his new book, which I will begin reading this weekend.Adventures in SolitudeGrant at Radio 3 picnic
[cross-posted at my other blog Honourary Canadian]