on writing & baseball: research

This is half a post about my failure to research prior to writing the first novel last time and half a post about my first experience at a minor league baseball game.

When I started writing last time, it was more about something I had to do to get my head and my psyche in order. Because I told myself (and still believe) that was the primary purpose, I did little in the way of actual research for this book. I had maybe a 3-page outline (compared to the 29-page one I did for my current draft) and some random character sketches.

I still don’t think the story is bad. I really don’t, and one of my major goals for this summer is to rewrite it (how that’s going to occur, I’m not really sure that I’ve thought out too well).

The primary comment that a friend made after reading that draft was “I never felt like I was there.” That made me aware of how much I had skipped in terms of setting. All senses of setting. In short, the book is about minor league baseball. It’s pure fiction, but still could use some of the little details that would make one feel that I have some clue about minor league baseball.

The worst part of this story is that there are several minor league teams within driving distance of me, and one of those belongs to the Dodgers.

So, I finally made the trek out to the Epicenter, home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers Single-A affiliate.

It was quite an experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Blake Hawksworth was making a rehab start.  (I think it was his second 1-inning rehab start.)

Overall, it was fun, and a major deal compared to the price gouging I’m used to at Dodger Stadium. Parking was $4, my ticket behind home plate was $8, and my food was a whopping $12 (nachos, bottle of water, root beer float). All in all, I was quite happy with the price.

What I didn’t expect was the veritable three-ring circus that surrounded the game. Never have I heard music played during an at-bat. There were constant games and promotions. It was very family friendly. But apart from the three scouts sitting behind me, I don’t think many people were there to really watch baseball. The other major discovery that I made is that Single-A baseball looks absolutely nothing like major league baseball. (The rewrites that will need to happen to reflect that were swirling in my head.)

I don’t think I was too far off in terms of the stadium and facilities (I’ve visited the Dodgers spring training home, which also serves as a minor league stadium). But I definitely have my work cut out for me in conveying the atmosphere.

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