A SIDEWAYS GLANCE : SCULLY WON'T, BUT THREE ADD TO THE CROWD.
For more than a half-dozen reasons, Vin Scully has resisted writing a book about his life.
One of them could be that there's no appeal in knowing he'd have to squeeze a Hall-of-Fame piece of literature on the same B. Dalton shelf space with other baseball-broadcaster-reflects-on-the-game quasi-memoirs.
The '98 major-league season starts with no less than three new glossy books authored (at least in part) by well-known TV baseball guys better known for what they say than what they write.
Call it a show of diversification. Or cross-media self-promotion. More likely, too much off-season time on their hands.
Given this particular trio, Tim McCarver's ``Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans'' (with Danny Peary, Villard, 384 pages, $23) surprisingly emerges as the one purists will treasure most.
In a tone quite different from his first book (an autobiography called ``Oh, Baby, I Love It!''), the current Fox and former CBS and ABC analyst has managed to produce a book that when finished can actually make the reader hungry for more McCarver insight. Really. The trick is to get through the text without hearing McCarver's voice in your head as you go sentence by sentence.
That's ain't easy, believe you me.
While McCarver has been showing up in places like PBS' ``The Charlie Rose Show'' to promote the book, ESPN's ``Average Joe'' Morgan is paid to dumb things down.
In the latest of the yellow-and-black-book series ``Baseball for Dummies'' (with Richard Lally, IDG Books, 404 pages, $19.95), the attempt is to make a game enjoyed on so many levels appealing to everyone. Which is the same reason why Sizzler offers a salad bar.
For the beginner, all these chapters on so many aspects of the game can be too overwhelming, even in this brief form. For the experienced fan looking for a fresh approach, it's far too simplistic, hardly fulfilling. Not even Morgan, the most overrated baseball analyst on TV today, can generate enough bat speed to jerk it out of the yard.
Meanwhile, Morgan's ESPN ``Sunday Night'' broadcast partner, Jon Miller, will probably end up satisfying more fans with his predictably goofball views in ``Confessions of a Baseball Purist: What's Right - and Wrong - With Baseball As Seen from the Best Seat in the House'' (with Mark Hyman, Simon & Schuster, 269 pages, $24).
Fans in Baltimore and San Francisco, where he has made his career, will particularly adore it. The rest of us. . . .
For L.A. readers, at least, Miller's observations of Scully are worth pursuing.
Miller, who grew up in San Francisco a Giants fan, also listened to Scully do Dodgers games at night on the powerful KFI signal. Aspiring broadcaster Miller decided Scully was ``dull'' and could never be as good as Russ Hodges. Miller remembers thinking once: ``No wonder Scully's stuck in a jerkwater town like L.A. He'll never get out of there.''
By the end of the chapter, Miller admits the error of his ways. Driving alone through Oregon, Miller was once forced to listen to Scully do a game from start to finish and was hypnotized by the way Scully told stories, weaved in information and didn't have to be a cheerleader like Hodges. Miller paraphrases ``The Natural'' when he concludes: ``There goes Vin Scully, the best there ever was at broadcasting this game.''
And there go McCarver, Morgan and Miller making it a mess for anyone with an honest intent to sit in front of a word processor and commit his memories to print for all to savor. Thankfully, Red Barber was able to do it. Unfortunately, it's a no-Vin situation.
PHOTO no caption (book covers of `Tim McCarver's Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans,' `Baseball for Dummies,' and `Confessions of A Baseball Purist.')
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|Title Annotation:||Review; SPORTS|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 20, 1998|
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