Jim Bouton died Wednesday at age 80. His book "Ball Four'' (published in June 1970) changed the way we covered teams and any obligation felt to defend the home team in controversial situations even when that team didn't deserve the defending.
Ball Four was revolutionary. Bouton's diary of his 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros (with looks back to his World Series-winning Yankees days) gave more than enlightenment to readers on real goings-on with the occupants of clubhouses and locker rooms.
Ball Four also created an expectation from readers that sports writers were going to provide anecdotes, a smile here and there, and the truth as they knew it. In other words, if a manager had a duke-out with a pitcher, it would be a story to relish — to seize upon instantly, to rush into print, and a request for a cover-up would have been an added detail and further embarrassment to the team.