Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baseball: (Big) Fan of the Game

I didn't forget to write. This is baseball season. This time of year, you can find me sitting in front of a game. My son, Dan, just wrapped up his summer league season. Oh, I hated for that to end. My favorite thing about summer is getting to sit in ballparks. For hours. Dan's now 17 and has been playing since he was 6, so I've had lots of chances to learn different neighborhood parks. Also, as a family, we've been on a major league ballpark quest. We've been to Fenway (my favorite) several times; and we've visited the home parks of these teams: the Padres, Dodgers, Oakland A's, the Giants, Mariners, the Mets (the old stadium), the Brewers and we're from Chicago, so of course we've been to see the Cubs and the White Sox. This summer we'll visit the Tampa Bay Rays.

I love a summer night. Watching the sky change as the players move through the innings. Eating peanuts. We are lucky to have the baseball package on cable, so on any one night, I can see ten different games. This year, it was thrilling to watch Dan pitch a complete game; and strike out 5 guys. Last week, the Chicago White Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game. I missed the actual game, but I cried when I read the story in the Tribune. On Monday night, during the fifth inning, Josh Becket, of the Red Sox (one of my all-time favorite pitchers), had thrown only 66 pitches; and 56 were strikes!

I get inspired seeing people do the kinds of things baseball players do. Like a good story, there's tension and drama as they move through the innings of a narrative arc. Over the years, it has inspired me to keep going with my writing. To think of it word by word, like a pitcher throwing pitch by pitch to get to the end of an inning, the end of the game, to the end of my manuscript. To keep stepping up to the plate--submitting my work--even though I'm striking out, getting rejections in the mail. My favorite is to see Big Papi of the Red Sox hit a long fly ball out to center, over the green monster, over the fans sitting in the monster seats, out of the park to land in Yawkey Way. I keep that vision in my head as I write. Maybe my homers are few and far between, but maybe I'll get a single. And eventually get home!

As you can probably tell, I'm passionate about baseball. So I had to write in a baseball player in my new book, Shattered. His name is Nick Ortiz. He's the complete stranger-turned-important-person in the main character's life. He ends up giving Cassie some important baseball advice. Like all baseball players, and the game itself, he inspires me. And Cassie too.

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