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.

Advertisements

baseball: keeping score (K-ForCE Lite)

Baseball is back!

I guess it’s been back for over a week, but I took a short trip and missed opening week. I did return, though, just in time for the Dodgers Home Opener and the Dodgers first two home wins.

There was a time in my life when I kept score of a massive amount of games (massive = 162 in the 1997 season). I have all of the scorecards stored away. I’ve tried in the past couple of years on occasion to keep score, but it has seemed more of a hindrance than the fun it used to be.

I got talking with some folks about an app for scorekeeping, and sure enough it’s already been invented. ImageI read a couple of reviews and decided upon K-ForCE Lite for the iPhone. I figured if it was exceptional I could buy the full version, and if it was awful I could dump it.

Pros:

  • You can import all of the major league rosters (although I figured this out after the game).
  • You can keep a pitch count in each at bat.
  • You can actually chart the hits (if you want to).
  • Player substitution was pretty easy once I got the hang of it (of course, I chose to do it in a game where the Pittsburgh Pirates did a triple substitution in one inning and ended up with five pitchers in the game. So, it was definitely tested out.)
  • Before you close out the game, it asks you to clear up any discrepancies.
  • You get awesome options to export the scoresheet or boxscore into html format of a pdf. (I’m super excited about the pdf.)

Image

Cons:

  • It’s a battery-drainer. That’s probably not a big deal at home, but at the stadium, it was a little rough. Will it stop me from doing it? Probably not. I’ll just make sure I have a full charge before I leave.
  • It’s a little difficult to change plays. (I guessed an error that was ruled a hit, and had a hard time figuring out how to change it.) I was able to change within the same inning, but I’m not sure how that works out if scoring changes are made later in the game.

All in all, this is awesome for a free app and baseball fan.

Image

Kershaw’s Challenge

It’s no big secret that I love, love, love Clayton Kershaw. Mostly because he’s a lefty. And mostly because he’s had Cy Young written all over him from the first time I saw him pitch.

The funny thing is that I think now I love, love, love his wife even more.

I read about the Kershaws’ pledge of $100 for each strikeout Clayton registers this year, and it made me like them both even more. The goal is to raise $70,000 to build an orphanage in Zambia, where Ellen has visited frequently and Clayton made his first visit this offseason.

While I wish I could match their pledge, he’s just too good of a pitcher. So, I’m scaling it down to $1 per strikeout. I figure that way, I’ll make a minimum of a $200 contribution (hint, hint) to their fund this year. And it won’t be too bad to have to make a contribution every 5 days throughout the season.

After Opening Day, I’ve made the first $9 donation.

Check it out here!

fantasy baseball draft

Every year for the past four years, I have participated in Fantasy Baseball, but you wouldn’t really know it. I don’t even know it. And last year I won!

However, I think this year may be a little different because we switched from Yahoo to ESPN. Even more importantly, I downloaded the app for my iPhone. And EVEN more importantly than that, I have a good pitching staff this year. (Not quite as good as Joe Blanton and those four guys–as the Little One refers to them–but decent, I think.)

We switched this year from a traditional draft to an auction draft. (And by “we” I mean the Little One decided.) And as The Wrestler said, “this could cause a family to break up.”

My team for 2011:

C Carlos Santana
C Geovany Soto
1B James Loney
2B Blake DeWitt
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Jose Reyes
LF Juan Pierre
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Jayson Werth
OF Carlos Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
SP Clayton Kershaw
SP Roy Halladay
SP Zack Greinke
SP Cole Hamels
SP Chris Carpenter
RP Blake Hawksworth
RP Joakim Soria
RP Huston Street
RP Kenley Jansen
BE Jose Bautista
BE Francisco Liriano
BE Casey McGehee
BE Ted Lilly
BE Adam LaRoche

I think it’s pretty easy to tell where my loyalties lie.

not blogging

The last three posts I’ve written are sitting as drafts. See, I’ve made a promise to myself not to complain. Honestly, they are not even true complaints, but they’re not happy and I’m trying to this an unhappy free zone.

But I also want to be honest so I’m going to just write a list. Facts only:

  • My brother gave me “Moneyball” for Christmas, and I just started reading it. A few chapters in, the short version is that it’s the story of Billy Beane. It really makes me want to be a baseball scout. Like really badly.
  • I switched my runs to outdoor runs this week because the weather has been so nice and because I really want to run a 5K. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought it could be. I will say, though, that Elysian Park is brutal.
  • Every time I look at these cats, I really just want a dog. It’s starting to get to me.
  • I realized on Saturday evening that for the past 7 years I’ve done the exact same thing and gotten the exact same results. I know that’s part of the definition of insanity, BUT this time I didn’t expect different results. I knew what I was doing this time.
  • One of the best friends I’ve made in my adult life moved to South America five months ago. And while I fully support his happiness, I miss him terribly. That’s starting to get to me, too.
  • I have an overwhelming desire to disappear right now. I’m slowly shutting down social networking, except for Twitter at this point because that’s my only source of news.
  • The other thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is that there was this guy I went out with for a while, and while I know we don’t belong together, I feel really bad that he never knew why I liked him.
  • I really, really, really miss baseball. When I spent thirty minutes this morning reading minor league stats, I realized that someone needs to play a game soon.
  • I have had this friend since freshman year of high school. And with all of the above thoughts rolling around in my brain and exhaustion from trying to catch up after three months of working two full-time jobs, I appreciate all of the laughter last night. All joking aside, he truly is one of my soul mates.

goodbyes, gold & baseball

goodbyes: It’s funny because I think the thing that has made me get over my troubles with saying goodbye has been my teaching career. You can’t not say goodbye to your students. It just doesn’t work that way. This has been interesting for me, though. I never expected that I would like students so much after just one quarter of teaching. My times as a long-term substitute is over as of today, and I realized that I’m going to miss my students. It’s so strange. I basically stumbled to work today. Not enough sleep. Overslept. No hot water in my shower. Couldn’t find socks. And then there’s the issue of the half-caffeinated coffee. Spells like a recipe for a horrible day, but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t when I had to stay two hours later. And as I drove home, I realized that there’s a big part of me that is a teacher, whether or not I want that to be.

gold: My American Express gold card arrived in the mail today. I opened the package, activated it and then stared at it. I have no idea what I thought I was going to do with it. I just thought it would be fun to have one. Yup, fun. I have spent the past six months digging myself out of seven years worth of debt, and I’m waiting on one more check to pay off my last credit card. So, really I have no intention of racking up more debt, but well, it looks nice.

baseball: I drive by Dodger Stadium twice a day. It’s torture now. In the morning, I’m on the freeway so I only see the offramp and I think to myself: almost. In the afternoon, I get off the freeway and take a shortcut around the back way of Dodger Stadium. That’s when it’s really torture because when I come home, it’s close to what would be game time. And the entrance gate looks so inviting. Soon.