Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baseball and The Boys of October!

by Suzanne Welsh
Yes, I know it's not quite Labor Day yet, but the run for the baseball playoffs is heating up! Especially in the American League Central division. The Cleveland Indians, my team, are leading by a slim margin of 2 and 1/2 games! And tonight they turned one of the rarest plays--an around the horn triple play. It was a thing of beauty.

I adore baseball. My mother and her two sisters in Tennessee were Cincinnati Reds fans back in the days of Johnny Bench, Pistol Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine. There was no such thing as ESPN and when the games weren't on TV we listened to them over the radio on warm summer nights out on the back porch with the crickets chirping and fireflies blinking.

Then I married an Indians fan and changed allegiance more from attrition than from their excellent play. This was back in the eighties and quite frankly I watched them lose more than win. They were so bad, they made a fictional movie about them, Major League.

What got me hooked is that they showed up every day. They practiced hitting, running, catching, pitching...all as if they planned on winning. Coaches made decisions and players were traded or sent down to the minors in the hopes of the team having a winning season. Or at least not being on the bottom of the standings. Some people would say they were paid to do these things. That a salary is what prompted them. Maybe, but it didn't make them play with passion and enthusiasm. They weren't the super-paid men in pin-stripes. Many were making low-for-baseball-players salaries. They were the underdogs, my heroes. They plugged away for the love of the game.

Then things started to change. After a new stadium was built, and management made some changes the team started winning. They played to 455 consecutive sell-out games at Jacobs Field. (A number the team retired in honor of their fans.)They made a run for the pennant. Omar Visquel was a thing of beauty on the field, almost a ballerina turning a double play! Jim Thome looked like a mountain of a man at the plate just before he knocked one out of the park. They played in two world series!! But didn't win either one.

Then time passed, they restructured the team and had a few rebuilding years.

Now they're in the race again, with guys like the gorgeous Grady Sizemore making flying and diving catches in centerfield. Designated hitter, Travis Hafner and catcher, Victor Martinez leading their offenses. Pitchers CC Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Paul Byrd setting records and winning games.

That's sort of what it's like for me as a romance writer. I plugged away in the early years because of my love of the game, (writing). Then things started to click, I won a contest that actually paid me! OMG, the next thing must be publication. After a couple of tries without reaching that goal, I had to step back and restructure. Then I started finaling in contests with my newer works, get positive feedback even in my rejections. Now I'm making a run at the series again, (an agent or a publishing contract).

Will I make it? I hope so. I'm working like I mean to achieve those things. I have two GH pins to show for the efforts so far. I have to believe they're signs!

Will my Indians make the World Series again? I hope so. They turned a TRIPLE PLAY tonight. Somehow I have to think it's a sign!

So what heroes in your life or books keeps you rooting for them even when all seems lost?


Anna Campbell said...

Suz, that was a fantastic post! I was standing up cheering by the end of it and believe me, I don't understand baseball at all (hey, I come from the country of cricket and Rugby League!). You go, girl! Persistence pays and you've got the guts to go the distance, my friend! Oh, dear, about to go rah-rah-rah! Better stop!

Buffie said...

Baseball is in my house all year long!!! My hubby loves the Atlanta Braves, as he should since we live in Atlanta. But it is personal for him. See my mother-in-law worked for the Braves for several years answering fan mail. And the fringe benefits of that job were outstanding. The hubby and his littler brother literally played on the ballfield. And did you know that Joe Torry (not sure I spelled his name right) borrowed several of my mother-in-law's Sidney Shelton romance novels??? You never would have guessed that, huh!

Caren Crane said...

Buffie, that's a hoot about Joe! Suz, I'm with Anna about baseball (except I'm American). I mostly go to games (when coerced) for the hot dogs. *g*

But I love underdogs. I'd prefer to watch a team with odds stacked against them and a lot of heart. And that is exactly how I feel as an aspiring writer!

When I get down, I invariably turn to my writer friends (Banditas very much included). Other writers can deliver a pep talk second to none! Then my (very wide) stubborn streak kicks in and I'm able to go on.

Hey, Anna, do we get to see a picture of you in a cheerleading outfit with pom poms? *eg*

AndreaW said...

I love baseball! Like Buffie, we live in Atlanta and are huge Braves fans. Woo-hoo!

Buffie, that is so funny about Joe! I can't wait to tell my hubby.

Kirsten said...

I've never been a sports nut, but I love watching those sports movies where the underdog comes back and wins the big game. Oh, and I love to imagine myself in one of those training montages they have in movies. You know, sweating, working hard, emerging at the end as a total stud. :-)

I've only been writing for a few years, so I like to think I haven't gotten to the really hard part yet. I get disappointed when I get rejected, but overall, I just enjoy what I'm doing enough to keep going!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, as I was writing this I thought of you and our Aussie/Brit friends, wondering if I should explain a triple play. So here it is...

A base runner is on first and second. If the ball is hit on the ground or lands and no one catches it, the runners must advance. The batter hit the ball to third baseman Casey Blake, who had the presence of mind to step on the third base bag, making the man on second running to third out (1). Then he threw to the second baseman, Cabrerra who stepped on second making the man on first running to second out (2). Then he threw to the first baseman, Martinez who stepped on first before the batter reached it, making him out (3).

This all happens within about 90 seconds. And is verrrrrrry verrrrrrrrry rare. My husband was in the kitchen when I started yelling..."OMG a triple play!!" He and my son had to watch it on replay. hehehe

Suzanne Welsh said...

Buffie--I'd forgotten that Joe Torre played for the Braves. Too great that he read your mom-in-law's books. I would imagine they have a lot of down time on busses, planes, trains and at hotels.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren and Inara...I'm always a sucker for the underdog making good movies. Sports movies have the added advantage of hunky men being the underdogs!

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I had to laugh at you envisioning yourself in the training montage--I admit to doing that myself! The thought of actually, you know, exercising and sweating is far more attractive than the reality. But I would love a montage of me doing my exercise routine. It would be motivational when I had to see my arse on video!*g*

Aunty Cindy said...

All right, Aunty will admit she has been to exactly ONE professional baseball game in her entire life (The SF Giants, talk about underdogs). And hot dogs give me indigestion, though sometimes I eat them anyway. PFFFT!

That being said, I LOVED your analogy to writing, Suz! I definitely identify with the underdog and have for quite awhile. But I'm going to keep practicing and restructuring and doing everything I can to break through that SOLD barrier!

Seeing my Bandita buddies get The Call, gives me hope. And listening to the rah-rahs of EVERYONE here is a GINORMOUS BOOST! THANX A BUNCH!


Joan said...

Angels in the Outfield.

That's the movie I thought of when you talked about underdogs. And...appropriately....it is baseball related.

It's a Disney movie about a young boy who is in the foster system. The only constant in his life is his love of the California Angels baseball team, which at the time were about as far under as an underdog could be.

He asks his father when he might come get him and he says "When the Angels win the pennant". Well, the underlying truth there is...never.

But...he says a little prayer and God sends a bunch of angels out to give the team a boost and voila....the impossible happens. The Angels win! The Angels win! (I especially like his little buddy, another foster boy who is SO optimistic his catch phrase is "It could happen."

And that's what I think every time I finish a manuscript, submit a query or enter a contest.

Joan getting published?

It could happen.

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, you are one sick bunny! ;-)

Thanks for explaining that, Suz. It was a bit like a Yorker bouncing to silly mid-off would be to you guys! Actually, I'm bamboozled by cricket too. Clearly, the sports gene never set up residence in my brain! Although I certainly get the visual appeal ;-)

Oh, stop me using emoticons, somebody! They are EEEEEEVIL!!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna--"It was a bit like a Yorker bouncing to silly mid-off would be to you guys!"

For a moment there I thought you'd started talking another language...like...oh Martian! Baseball and American Football must seem like the same thing to you! And I must confess, Cricket makes no bloody sense to me, either. Soccer, I get.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Suz, most of the footballs seem to follow basically the same format. But you're right - cricket is more arcane than anything you'll find in a paranormal! Actually I've got to say golf is the one that makes no sense to me at all. I can remember watching Tin Cup and having no idea at the end if he'd won or not!

Donna MacMeans said...

Suz - I like baseball and football, but I understand baseball better. In fact, I used to score the game (you know where all the positions have numbers and you keep track of what hit was caught by what player and thrown to whom -- this BEFORE I majored in Accounting).

I was disappointed to see that the Indians traded away one of my favorites - Cocoa Crisp. I just loved to hear his name in connection to the game. I went to High School in Cincinnati and so cheered on the Reds, then moved to Cleveland when I married. Sat through many a game at the old stadium - the Mistake on the Lake.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, Suz, I LOVED your analogy! As ya'll know, my house is Wrigley South. My DH is a life-long Cubs fan and has infected my elder son w/ this fanaticism. They bleed Wrigley Blue. :>
Buffie, I loved your story about the Braves. Wow on Joe Torre! I'm a Bravo fan since I really like Greg Maddux and he used to pitch for them.
Donna, I've been to the Mistake on the Lake too, when I lived up there and was a Cincy O fan for the Big Red Machine because I thought Johnny Bench was cute. Ha! Dating myself there.
AC, I love seeing the solds for everyone too and it SO has kept me going. The added Bandita boost when you DO sell is like a total chocolate high, it's so great! SO to you, Joanie T and all the Banditas, not only can you say "it could happen" you can pretty much say IT WILL HAPPEN. :>
Back to baseball...Not having been a fan - other than loving the aforementioned underdog movies (esp. w/ hot sex scens like Bull Durham, she said, waving her fan in front of her face) - I had to learn about the game. I'm a major football fan though. Cold nights, hot chocolate, mano-a-mano contact, tight pants, tight ends...okay, I'll stop now before I get CENSORED. Snork. I'm such a football fan that I watch the draft and even got to go on the field once in front of 80,000 fans and try to kick a fieldgoal. My dh loves that. Of course he played both football AND rugby. Grins.
Caren, you, Kristen and I can make our own training montage...or maybe not! Ha! You two slim wands would make me look SO much the underdog! Heehee.
Great post Suz!

Helen said...

Great post Suz although I don't understand baseball either but yes our family is very much into cricket rugby leauge and soccer we are very big sports fans here and love it when underdogs push themselves to get where they want to go the determination to win or make happen what you want to happen is fantastic and the support given by fans and friends alike are really important never give up on a dream you want to happen whether being part of a team or personal.
Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Great post Suz! I posted on another blog not long ago on something similar - and mentioned that Super Bowl ad which has all the famous American Footballers singing along to Tomorrow (from Annie) and the end-line is "From tomorrow, we are all undefeated again".

Think about that the next time yo get a rejection - Tomorrow is truly another day.

I'm a sports fan too. Have kind of adopted the Yankees. But my real teams are Manchester United (soccer), Washington Redskins (American football) and the New Jersey Devils (hockey *grin*). Trust me supporting those teams has had some tremendous ups and downs! But, those teams - especially Man U and the Devils - personify perseverance and not giving up until the whistle/horn blows!

BTW have you read the fab Kate Angell books - baseball romances?

Keira Soleore said...

Suz, that's three for three signs (a triple play and two GH pins). Plus this is the Year of the Banditas. I'm going to be looking for your pink ribbon in SF.

Buffie, what fabulous inside info. This is all going into your memoirs, right?

AC, I've been to two: Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners.

Football is the one game, I do "get." The others... SIGH!

Jo Lewis said...

What a great metaphor for thinking and acting like we're really writers! I needed that boost to my morale while I'm sending out more queries.

Of course, you know what they say about baseball. It's a metaphor for just about anything.

Kate Carlisle said...

Aw, Suz, I love baseball as a metaphor for almost anything! What a great post! Of course, you're talking to a girl whose father's idea of a perfect family outing was packing me and my four brothers into the car and heading off to watch Dodger stadium being built. You can imagine how excited we were to finally go to a game.

And just realized....am I dating myself?? LOL

Anyway...thanks again for the fabulous post and some good memories. I'm now craving a Dodger Dog and might have to go home and watch Bull Durham tonight!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, but Anna, a contest judge once told me that you simply CANNOT have Sports Athletes (as opposed to what...pickle athletes?) as heroes in a Romance Book. (Caps are hers.) She marked that entry down to nothing. :> How shocked she must be that an Actual Author (caps mine) has published Actual Books with baseball heroes. Grins.

Beth said...

Hey, Suz, great analogy! I tried to post last night but my computer wasn't cooperating *g*

I love baseball and underdogs (also liked the cartoon hero, Underdog, but that's another post *g*)

Joan, my son watched Angels in the Outfield at least a hundred times. That and Little Giants - another Disney underdog/sports movie but about a midget football team :-)

I admit, we were bigger baseball fans years ago when we had more time (fewer children *g*) But we enjoy going to a Pirates game every once in awhile ;-)