The 1970s had Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four,” the first no-holds-barred tell-all book about what goes on inside a major league baseball locker room.
The 1980s had self-deprecating baseball humorist Bob Uecker’s “Catcher In The Wry,” which bragged on its cover that it included “16 pages of tasteless photographs.”
If Mark Titus’ “Don’t Put Me In Coach” is all we’ve got in 2012 in the locker room confidential/sports humor category, maybe it’s time to repair the flux capacitor and take the DeLorean back to the 1970s.
Titus, in case you’re not familiar with him, is the Ohio State men’s basketball walk-on from 2006-2010 who became famous for hardly playing at all through his wildly popular blog “Club Trillion.”
The Club Trillion name comes from the fact that on an expanded official NCAA basketball statistics sheet a player who gets into a game for one minute and has zeroes in every other statistic has a line that looks like a trillion.
The blog amused me almost every time I checked in on it while Titus was at OSU.
But the book is more like a 3-point shot that falls to earth about two or three feet short of the rim. As one reviewer on amazon.com described it, “Don’t Put Me In, Coach” is like a Saturday Night Live sketch that Titus attempted to stretch into a full-length movie.
As someone who covered many Ohio State basketball games during that era, it’s interesting to get a look behind the curtain. Probably most of the stories he tells are on target or only slightly embellished.
One of my favorites is Titus describing Daequan Cook’s apparent lack of focus before the 2007 NCAA championship game against Florida when he told Titus that this was his last game as a Buckeye during pregame warm-ups.
At times, the book is clever and funny. But to call it often sophomoric is also accurate.
To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s legendary knockout punch on Dan Quayle in their vice-presidential debate, “I’ve bought ‘Ball Four,’ I’ve read ‘Ball Four,’ and you, sir, are no ‘Ball Four.’”
Full disclosure: Profanity within reason does not usually bother me and I lived in an all-male college dorm in the 1970s, so I’m well acquainted with crude behavior. I’m familiar with the lowest common denominator and what can be done with flatulence and a lit match.
But I really didn’t need to know as much about Titus’ gastro-intestinal tract and its repeated unreliability as this book tells me. And I really didn’t need to shift uncomfortably in my chair as he tells the critics of his fame to perform an act on themselves that sounds like it belongs on a porn site.
In other words, if you buy this book for your kid, don’t blame me.
If your kid is old enough to have a driver’s license, well, it’s up to you or them.
People who will like this book: Ohio State fans who want an inside look at coach Thad Matta and the Buckeyes of 2006-2010. Also, anyone who thinks every second of every episode of “Family Guy” is absolutely hilarious, no exceptions.
People who will probably hate this book: Evan Turner, Jamar Butler, Cook, Ivan Harris, anyone who puts all athletes on a pedestal and the easily offended.
If you really want to buy the book, my advice is to wait. It lists for $24.95 on the book jacket, but it’s already going for around $16.50 on the websites of two of the most popular online booksellers.
A few other notes:
— Speaking of Jamar Butler, the former Ohio State and Shawnee High School player is now playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico.
— Speaking of books, Putnam County League historian Dan Kern is selling updated versions of his basketball and baseball books and offering two new books — one on the history of PCL track meets and the other on PCL golf tournaments.
The cost is $35 per book. Contact Kern by mail at: Dan Kern, 16544 Road H13, Continental, OH 45831 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The basketball and golf books need to be ordered by May 15 and the baseball and track books should be ordered by June 1.
— Speaking of warm weather sports, Lima Central Catholic High School graduate Doug Wade, a former All-Big Ten golfer at Ohio State, has been hired as head pro at Miami Valley Golf Club in Dayton.
Wade played professionally on several mini-tours before becoming a teaching pro. His most recent job was at Western Hills Country Club in Cincinnati. He has qualified to play in this summer’s Professionals National Championship in Monterey, Calif.
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