inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #26 of 95: Margaret Cunningham (mec) Sun 2 May 10 15:22
    
Hi, Emma.  I grew up in Texas, so football is my native sport.  I'm
not exactly a sports fan now, but I've loved afternoons and evenings
watching the A's play here in Oakland, the San Jose Giants in their
hometown, and even the Stockton team (in their old field).  The
"hometown-ness" of minor league games appeals to me.

Looking forward to reading your book, based on the wit you display
here and in your blogs.  (Plus I'm a friend and fan of your mom.)

Keep that notebook high!
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #27 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Mon 3 May 10 05:17
    
Thanks! I'm excited because tonight after work I'll get to my first
live game of the season, at Yankee Stadium. (Assuming the rain stops).
It's never quite the same on TV... I'll report back later!
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #28 of 95: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 3 May 10 09:10
    
Emma, while you're packing up the peanuts and Cracker Jacks for
tonight's game, I'll ask: what do you think are the reasons why
football players are more hostile than the other kinds of athletes you
encountered? Hockey is hardly a game for shrinking violets, yet its
players were noticeably more friendly and accessible for you. Do you
think it's the violence of football or that violent people seem to be
attracted to such a violent game, or some other factor? You've seen
these guys up close in a way none of the rest of us have, so I'm
interested in your thoughts. 

Baseball, it has always seemed to me, is a game of grace punctuated
with occasional moments of violence. Football is a game of violence
occasionally punctuated by moments of grace. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #29 of 95: Paula Span (pspan) Mon 3 May 10 09:26
    
Nicely put.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #30 of 95: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 3 May 10 09:57
    
Congrats on getting out to a Yankee's game, weather allowing ... can't
wait to hear about that, too.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #31 of 95: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 3 May 10 11:44
    
Thank you, Paula. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #32 of 95: that old cop cards and yarn thing (crow) Mon 3 May 10 14:06
    
Hi Emma, I can't wait to read your book. I became a fan in my 20s after
watching games on TV and getting hooked, then I found out that my mom had
been a fan for years. She went to Hollywood Stars (PCL) games before the
Dodgers came to LA (she'd hoped the Giants would be the new team, she liked
them better.)

I met my spouse through baseball, and now most summers we go on a trip with
his cousins to minor league baseball games in California. If you come to the
Bay Area we'll take you to a San Jose Giants game, where they have great
barbeque.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #33 of 95: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Mon 3 May 10 22:15
    
Ok, Emma, I'm halfway through the book and just had to re-live your
painful end-of-job at the Village Voice. My heart goes out to you; I've
had that conversation and it sucks.

The book is so great! My first question is about being a sportswriter.
Whenever my husband reads to me from a sports column, I marvel at how
sportswriters are the only journalists who are still enthusiastic about
their subject and who craft their prose like old-fashioned,
hard-boiled gumshoes. Do you agree that sportswriters have their own
style and ... milieu, I guess, and why do you think that is? 

Second, spring training: Do you think it would be as underwhelming for
fans as it was for you as a journalist? I've been dreaming of going to
Spring Training for years. Am I actually going to hate it? 

Third: Do you think there is a difference in how fans become fans? I
like to draw the divide along gender lines, but <aud>'s fandom destroys
that theory entirely. Still, my husband loves sports from the
inside-out, captivated by minutiae, names and numbers and strategies
and years, to the extent that he's like a walking encyclopedia. I love
them from the outside-in: i love the Knicks because I was captivated by
their mid-90s run, and learned then about the Bill Bradley Knicks; I
love the Mets because of the 1986 series, and that was my jumping-off
point to learn more about them... in other words, for me it's the
story, for him it's the details. 

I was afraid if I didn't ask those all at once I'd forget, so I'm
sorry to be overwhelming. I just couldn't trust myself to find the
post-it with my notes on it over the next couple days. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #34 of 95: (fom) Mon 3 May 10 23:20
    
I'm looking forward to reading the book too. I'm a Giants fan nowadays, 
but most of my life I was a diehard Yankee fan, though I'm usually 
reluctant to admit that. (It's safe here, right?)
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #35 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Tue 4 May 10 03:16
    
Hey all, thanks, and it was a fun game last night - CC Sabathia is one
of those pitchers who, even when he doesn't have his good stuff, can
give you eight innings of 1-run ball... I got my first look at the
ruins of the old Yankee Stadium, and it was a real punch to the gut.
When I was at a game last August it was still standing; now it is just
a pile of rubble with part of a wall sticking out of it. Ouch.

To answer a few of these questions - Steve, I honestly don't know
exactly why the football players I covered were generally the least
friendly athletes I encountered; it's always dangerous to generalize.
And in fact a few of the players were very friendly (kickers are always
a safe bet for an interview). But I think it has to do with general
football culture, which really values hostility and anger in a way that
even hockey does not. But, again, that's just my speculation.

Amy, thanks for reading! I agree that sportswriters generally stick to
a certain hard-boiled style, but I'm not sure all of them really are
that enthusiastic about their subject; after five or ten years on the
job a lot of them are fairly jaded and disgruntled. I think some of
them use that certain style almost as a crutch, filling in the blanks
in the same story they've written a dozen times before. 

I think spring training would be *much* more fun as a fan! (Although
those Florida towns are still kind of my idea of hell). Had I made that
trip one March, especially with friends or family, I'm sure I would
have enjoyed it.

Finally, while (again) it's dangerous to generalize, I'm just like you
in the way I initially became a fan - through the stories - while many
of my male baseball fan friends were more focused on the stats and
rules and details of the game. Although I came to appreciate all of
that as well, and they are always up for a good baseball story, that
first appeal was different. So I agree with you, although I don't know
if that's anything innate or just the way society conditions us... and,
of course, gender differences are a minefield; not everyone had that
experience. (My female friend who played baseball as a kid, for
example, approached the game much the same way as my stathead male
friends).
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #36 of 95: Lisa Harris (lrph) Tue 4 May 10 06:52
    
Hi, Emma!  I'm reading along here (although I must admit I'm not a
huge baseball fan).  I am  Floridian, however, and next year feel free
to contact me to direct you to interesting places and good restaurants
in or near those boring spring training towns.  
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #37 of 95: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 4 May 10 07:10
    
Emma, one of the chapters I most enjoyed in your book was your
analysis, often humorous, of why movies about baseball suck generally. 

I completely agree with the conclusion you made in that chapter, which
I won't give away here for people who haven't yet read it. But since
you're a lover as well as a scholar of both baseball and film, describe
for us what the intersection of these two interests has meant to you. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #38 of 95: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Tue 4 May 10 16:09
    
oh i will have to get reading... I am going to be very upset if there
is dissage of Field of Dreams. "It's not my fault you didn't play catch
with your father!" 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #39 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Tue 4 May 10 17:59
    <scribbled by julieswn Tue 4 May 10 18:52>
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #40 of 95: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Tue 4 May 10 18:53
    
<39> sribbled due to it being a duplicate of <35>
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #41 of 95: that old cop cards and yarn thing (crow) Wed 5 May 10 13:01
    
There's a stereotype about "real" male sports fans being into statistics,
and able to recite every player's batting averages, etc. But in all the
years I've known sports fans, and I know some hard core ones, I've never
known anybody who was like that. The closest to that is people who remember
everybody who was on a roster for a particular year.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #42 of 95: Gail (gail) Wed 5 May 10 13:17
    
I liked Bull Durham as a baseball movie, when I knew fairly little
about baseball, and I still appreciate it. I think that is because
there are not a lot of plot points about how games progress.  It's more
about people and about a whole season, so it doesn't have to rely on
faking a game as the core of the story.  Just one hunch.  Curious about
what movies you like.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #43 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Wed 5 May 10 19:00
    
Steve, it's funny, because while baseball and movies are two of my
favorite things in the world, there just isn't a huge intersection
there! Not a ton of baseball movies, and certainly not many good ones.
But I had a ton of fun with that chapter - by far my favorite one in
the book to write. It was a blast to combine two of my favorite
subjects, and I felt more confident in my opinions and conclusions
there then I did with a lot of the other material.

Amy, I am lukewarm on "Field of Dreams" - a well-made movie but just
not especially my cup of tea. "The Natural" is the one I can't stand!
(Probably the most controversial thing I wrote in the whole book, but I
stand by it).
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #44 of 95: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 5 May 10 19:06
    
I recently read the original book - what a dark and odd tale.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #45 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Wed 5 May 10 19:07
    
Crow, I actually know quite a few fans like that - but that's probably
because through blogging I've met so many sabermetricians, Baseball
Prospectus writers, and real stat experts who make their living
analyzing baseball numbers. But I agree that most civilians, male or
female, probably aren't really that way.

Still: I was talking with an older Sox fan at a reading a few weeks
ago, and he wondered who the last pitcher to get 25 wins in the majors
was. I had no idea, and looked it up on my PDA to answer him. The next
night I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he said without even
pausing for breath, "Bob Welch, Oakland As, 27 wins in 1990." Dead
right. I know quite a few guys like that.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #46 of 95: Emma Span (emmakspan) Wed 5 May 10 19:44
    
Mark - yes indeed. One of my many problems with "The Natural" is that
I read the book first, and while I didn' like it all that much, it
still made the movie's ending seem unbelievably cheap, cynical and
phony. Ugh.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #47 of 95: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 5 May 10 19:49
    
Right, it was not a very enjoyable book - a rather strained
mid-century attempt to create something that would be taken seriously.
A weird mix of O. Henry, Steinbeck, and perhaps a bit of Raymond
Chandler.  But such as it was, it hung together.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #48 of 95: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Wed 5 May 10 23:48
    

Have you seen the recent movie "Sugar" about a player from the Dominican
Republic?  How the players in the DR hope to make it to the US, get ahead,
become famous, etc...
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #49 of 95: that old cop cards and yarn thing (crow) Thu 6 May 10 13:19
    
Yeah, one of our friends (who has had a sports show on a college radio
station for 15 years) enjoys stats like that one you mention. But he is
known for having a freakishly great memory. I mean, if he was at one of
those Bob Welch games (he probably was), he'd go on to say "I remember that
was when they had that weird hot dog with the baked beans that they only
sold for part of the '89 season and I spilled it all over my pants."
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #50 of 95: that old cop cards and yarn thing (crow) Thu 6 May 10 13:22
    
oh yeah, the baseball movies I like best aren't about baseball but are
related to it, like Fear Strikes Out or Experiment in Terror.
  

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