Monday, April 30, 2007

Sweet Temptation

Well, it’s a month into the season, and so far, so good. Two of the four teams I have already eliminated are still in last place and appear to not be going anywhere, let alone to the World Series. But there are two that are not complying with my prognostication. The Devil Rays have climbed out of the cellar, and the Mariners are actually in Second Place! This must end! Don’t they know that they cannot fight the power of The Blog?

So, who’s next? There are four teams in last place that have not been eliminated yet: The Rangers, the Cardinals, the Rockies and the Yankees. Oh, it is so tempting to pick the Yankees. I don’t know the last time that a team was in last place at the end of April and went on to win the World Series, if it ever happened at all. So I should be safe, right? The Yankees won’t win. It’s virtually impossible.

Until it happens. The Yankees are always a very strong second-half team. And as much as I would love to see the Yankees miss the playoffs, I’ll reserve judgment. I’ve got the luxury.

The Cardinals are another surprise. Defending World Series Champs in the toilet? Wow. Granted, the White Sox didn’t even make the playoffs last year, but they were close. But again, I’ll wait.

This week, I’ll have to go with the Colorado Rockies, for much the same reason that I eliminated the Mariners. They have a nice, young offense, but they need more maturity and more consistency in their pitching before they can compete for the biggest prize. The NL West is spoken for.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Rewrite

Up until last month I had never written (or finished writing) a book. And as of now, I’ve still never done (or finished) a rewrite. But I'm working on it. The interesting thing about reading your own writing (and I think I've mentioned this before) is that you don't always remember what you've written. After reading the entire first draft again, I knew immediately there were two major things I wanted to change. Not so much plotwise, as the way these things were presented. One of these things came off as just me being lazy. The other is the beginning of the book. I won't cut it out. I need to start the book, but I started writing from the beginning, and now the writing at the beginning is inconsistent with the writing throughout the rest of the book. Of course, these are the same three chapters I sent in as an example of how my book was to the Malice Domestic contest. Sheesh. I would have picked someone else, too.

My biggest problem was HOW to change these things without changing great portions of the book. The answer didn't come quickly. I thought about it for a while without ever putting anything to paper. My thinking became more and more general until I was left with the bare bones of the story, as well as the themes and the setting, and then it came to me. At the heart and soul of this novel is film. If in doubt, always go back to film. Once this revelation washed through me, I was able to put it to practical use.

The tough thing was, it needed research. So, I am writing to you in midst of watching many, many films to find what I need to add to the novel. It's not the worst research in the world. And my friends here at George Eastman House are a great resource, not only for ideas, but for DVDs as well. I know what I want, I just have to search for it.

How long will it take? Hopefully not too long. I have these major changes to make, but then I also have several smaller changes to make. I'm going to Malice Domestic (yikes!) a week from today. I hope to meet many other authors, and maybe chat up an agent or publisher or two. I'd like to tell them I'm done with the novel and have it ready to send to them. Either way, I'm very confindent that this is the way to go, and I'm excited to be moving toward the end.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sorry, Mike Sherwin

I am so glad that I decided not to iclude my beloved Toronto Blue Jays in this World Series Survivor, because the only team that had a worse week than the Jays were the Mariners, losers of 6 straight games. And with their star pitcher, "King" Felix Hernandez out, the outlook isn't good. They've got some power out there in the PacNo, but not a lot of pitching. And pitching wins Championships.

But back to the Jays. I sort of took the weekend off from baseball after I took Thursday's loss harder than I should have. The Jays are playing the Red Sox and Yankees for the next 4 games, so I'll root my hardest this week to make up for my absence this weekend.

What got me so discouraged? The AL East standings mirrored my emotional trajectory last week: Before Wednesday's game, the Jays were in 1st place; Before Thursday's game, they were in 2nd place; Before Friday's game, they were in a 3rd place tie with the Orioles, who they were playing over the weekend, and to who they surrendered a series sweep, much as the Yankess did to the Red Sox. I'm a little better now. The weather was beautiful over the weekend, and I found out my 3-year old son loves swinging the bat as much as anybody.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

After Action Report

This is over a week coming, but I thought I'd write about my trip to Toronto. The family had a good time. The game could've been better as the the Royals took revenge on me through the Blue Jays. We went up early and walked around. There is very little remaining on Front Street compared to what I remember in the "Glory Days." And maybe that' s the reason. There were over 4 million people visiting the SkyDome in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Enough to support a nice trade along the route north of the stadium. But the game we were at was the second home game of the season and the paid attendance was less than half capacity. All the seats in the upper deck of the stadium were $2 Canadian and it was more than half empty. We were looking for a hat and maybe a jacket for the boy, but came back with just the hat.

Our seats were pretty great, due to the generosity of the Blue Jays and the fact that we got them early. There was a problem with ordering tickets online in February and the Jays sent us vouchers for tickets for one of these 2 games. We were in the 9th row on the first base side, just past the bag. We had a great view and were well within foul ball range, although none came close. The boy was fascinated as soon as he got in his seat. He watched the end of Batting Practice as well as all the warmups and stretching. It bodes well for future trips this summer.

Josh Towers pitched great, even if he didn't get the credit for it. I'd put him up against any other 5th starter in baseball this year. Gregg Zaun had a nice pinch-hit homer. But two miscues by Matt Stairs, playing left field for an apparently injured Reed Johnson led to two runs that shouldn't have happened. Troy Glaus was visibly limping as he came down the line. Ultimately, Reed Johnson and Troy Glaus got put on the DL, along with closer BJ Ryan, but I'm not actually too concerned. Adam Lind was called up from Syracuse and should provide the bat, if not the defense, to replace Johnson. The bullpen has been pitching great (except for Ryan) and Jason Frasor steps into the closer role, a role he had back in 2004. John McDonald (the boy likes to say that name, along with Lyle Overbay) and newcomer Jason Smith will platoon at 3B until Troy Glaus is ready.

As of right now, I am listening to a tie-game first place battle between the Jays and the Red Sox. It's been a pretty good year so far, but it's going to take 16 Wins a month to win this division, and we've got 148 games left.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Victim #3

Oh, this is sad moment for me. I was hoping to keep the Nationals in the game much longer, considering I was going to see them in June. But they have been so bad. They hadn't even scored a single run in the first 3 innings of any of their games, win or loss, through the first 10 games of the season. That was broken up on Friday when Brian Schneider grounded into a bases-loaded double play in the second inning against the Mets.

But it's not really their fault. The ownership is still new. The club is very young. Maybe eventually they'll find the right combination of resources to compete, the same way their division rival Marlins have done. But not this year. See ya later, Washington.

Monday, April 9, 2007

My Next Victim

It's Monday, and time for me to eliminate another team from the possibility of reaching the storied position of World Series Champs. Unfortunately for the Kansas City Royals, I am attending the Blue Jays' second home game of the season tomorrow, against those same Royals. So, in honor of that, I am eliminating the Royals from the World Series run. Maybe next year guys...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I Like Audiobooks

It's OK. Say it with me. There's no shame.

I'm not saying that it should replace your regular reading, but Audiobooks shouldn't be looked down upon for providing what they do. I listen to Audiobooks. A lot, lately. But I've been doing it off and on for years. I generally use them to introduce myself to authors I wouldn't have read otherwise. I listen to them on the way to, and back home from, work. Depending on traffic, and the length of the discs, I can get through almost 1 CD a day. It takes me 2-3 weeks to "read" a book like that, but it's not taking away from my other reading and I get exposed to some major authors I wouldn't necessarily otherwise read.

My first Audiobook years ago was NAKED PREY by John Sandford. I loved it. I went back and read all the Prey novels from the beginning, including NAKED PREY, in print. I recently borrowed a couple of Michael Connelly Audiobooks as well, THE LINCOLN LAWYER and THE POET. I was less than thrilled by LINCOLN, but I loved POET. I immediately went out and bought THE BLACK ECHO and it's on my pile to be read.

So, I encourage you, if you have a commute, or even if you're going on vacation, go to your nearest library and check one out. You might even try Charles' Audiobook for RELATIVE DANGER!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

What I'm Reading

OK, so 1 post in the last half of March is a bit of a letdown, but believe it or not, I have been updating the blog. If you look in the right-hand column, you'll see that I've added the books that I'm currently reading. I've been updating them on a regular basis as I finish books and start new ones. As you'll see today, I am listenting to the 2nd Harry Potter book in my car. I read these two books originally and stopped there. I'm re-familiarizing myself with the stories and the movies to prepare for the 5th movie coming out this summer.

I'm also re-reading Charles Benoit's Relative Danger. RE-reading is a great way to learn.

Dollar Sign on the Muscle is a great guide to the artistry that is (or was) baseball scouting. I consider it research, but it's also a good read.

Dating Dead Men is the second book from Harley Jane Kozak. I wish she was going to Malice Domestic this year, because I have a soft spot in my heart for All I Want for Christmas. But I wanted to catch up on her writing any way.

Coming soon, I'll be listening to a JD Robb (see Nora Roberts) mystery, and I'll have to put Ilsa Bick's new MechWarrior novel in the queue.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It's Opening Day for the baseball season. Normally, I'd be taking at least half a day off to sit home and watch as many games as I could, caught up in the excitement of anticipation, wondering whose moves will pay off and trying to guess who will perform this year. But I don't have a whole lot of cable at my house. Don't cry. It's actually a good thing. Less distraction. But it does put a damper on opening day when all I can watch is the Cubs and Reds. So, instead, I will be making extensive use of my Gameday Audio subscription as I enter dozens of cataloging records at work.

What I've decided to do for the blog to celebrate Opening Day is to start a new game. You can play along if you'd like. Each week I'll pick one team to eliminate from any sort of possible World Series Championship this year. It's sort of a World Series Survivor. It will take 28 weeks to eliminate all of the remaining teams (I'm exempting the Blue Jays, as I don't think I'd be able to live with the guilt) and hopefully the last team standing will be the team that is actually holding the trophy in October. Then again, I might accidentally eliminate the eventual winner in July. We'll just have to see.

This first week's team is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They have never won more than 70 games in a season in their history, and I don't think that's going to change in a division that includes the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox. I'm sorry Bay Area, but this is not your year.

Tune in next week to see who won't win!