Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Biggest Jump in Baseball

Jim Bouton's Ball Four, a diary of his 1969 season in the majors and minors, was at its time a notoriously candid sports book that broke new ground by being honest about playing, drug use, women, and the personalities of the players. It reads a bit dated these days but is nonetheless fascinating to the fan of the sport or genre. For me, it's an anxious read, as Bouton is constantly evaluating himself as a pitcher in light of his most recent performance and lives in constant fear of being sent down, called up, traded, or fired.

There’s nothing like walking into a minor-league clubhouse to remind you what the minors are like. You have a tendency to block it. It was cold and rainy in Tacoma when I went there to meet the Vancouver club and the locker room was shudderingly damp, small and smelly. There’s no tarpaulin on the field, so everything is wet and muddy and the dirt crunches on the cement. The locker stalls are made of chicken wire and you hang your stuff on rusty nails. There’s no rubbing table in the tiny trainer’s room, just a wooden bench, and there are no magazines to read and no carpet on the floor and no boxes of candy bars. The head is filthy and the toilet paper is institutional-thin. There’s no batrack, so the bats, symbolically enough, are stored in a garbage can. There’s no air-conditioning and no heat, and the paint on the walls is peeling off in flaky chunks and you look at all of that and you realize that the biggest jump in baseball is between the majors and Triple-A. The minor leagues are all very minor.

There’s no end to the humiliation. The kid in the clubhouse asked me what position I played.

"Why Foreign Girls Make Better Wives and Lovers"

That erstwhile publication, Art of Manliness, has a great piece up today on vintage men's magazines. "MARCIANO IS SCARED OF ME says Archie Moore." "Sex Can Be Fun!" "Hooked to a Killer Shark." And so much more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blog I'm reading: The Road to Promise

Saxon Henry is a writer I know from my day-job professional life in PR. I just started reading a different project of hers, a blog in which she's developing a book. It's called The Road to Promise and it's about... well, I'm not sure yet, but it starts with her and her then-husband, newly ordained construction missionaries, setting out to build churches in under-developed areas.

One month after our Episcopal priest ordained us construction missionaries, I watched three men heave a broken-down car backwards on the Pan American Highway near San Jose, Costa Rica. In hindsight, this event would be seriously metaphorical for my time in the mission field, which took me to a quirky mix of communities from Belize to Alaska and Costa Rica to South Dakota.

I don't know where this is going, but I know I want to go, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The cookie said it so it must be true.

Last night I was working on my novel. I was re-reading it and revising it as I went. My revisions were few; I really like it, and I was pleased with the fact that, having set it aside for a while, I like it as much as or more than my last round of edits. I need to get back on the hunt for an agent; I'm very pleased with it and ready to market it.

Today, I opened the fortune cookie that came with my lunch and read: "You will become an accomplished writer." Good little omen!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Best baseball books?

Combing the web for ideas (oh, who am I kidding, I asked some guys at a message board) and this is what I'm getting so far:

The Soul of Baseball, Joe Posnanski

Bill James, Baseball Abstract

Ty Cobb, Ty Cobb

The Umpire Strikes Back (author?)

Ball Four, Jim Bouton

The Bullpen Gospels, Dick Hayhurst

Boys of Summer, Roger Khan

Willie Mays, James S. Hirsch