Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 6 May 10 16:34
Emma, one aspect of the baseball fan's experience you didn't address in the book is ballpark food, but I'll bet you've thought about it. Fans can be as passionate about it as they are about their teams. (I've always thought -- and still think -- the fare at the Oakland Coliseum is far superior to that chi-chi, frou-frou foodie junk they offer over where the Giants play.) What's on your baseball menu?
Emma Span (emmakspan) Thu 6 May 10 20:12
Steve, My ballpark food menu was basically limited to "a hot dog, and maybe, peanuts" but the opening of CitiField has changed that for the better - as New York residents know, Shake Shack makes one hell of a hamburger. The new Yankee Stadium has some decent options, but none great enough to justify their insane cost, at least not I've found yet. (The garlic fries ain't bad though). Also, I actually never got to see Sugar but it's at the top of my Netflix queue! Bull Durham, Major League, and the original Bad News Bears are among my favorite baseball movies, all comedies - I think baseball dramas tend to get pretentious about The Meaning of the Game in a way that rarely sits well with me. But I do like Eight Men Out, Bang the Drum Slowly, and several others well enough.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 7 May 10 08:02
Yeah, the original Bad News Bears was not at all bad!
Mrs. Bigby Hind (jessica) Fri 7 May 10 11:51
Hi Emma! I am really looking forward to giving your book to my mom for mother's day -- she grew up as a devoted Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and then transferred her loyalty to the Mets. In fact, when Gil Hodges died she was pregnant with my younger sister and my grandfather made her sit down to tell her the news. My father grew up as a New York Giants fan, and later joined my mother in Mets fandom. Both of them despise the Yankees with a pure blue flame of loathing, partly because in their red-diaper-baby childhoods the lefties all hated the Yanks due to their resistance to integration. So many of my fondest childhood memories are set in Shea Stadium where we'd go after my father got home from work on a summer evening. Definitely check out Sugar. It has a good combination of familiar sports movie peaks and valleys while also being willing to let things unfold in ways that aren't entirely burnished with the warm nostalgic reverent glow that is so often part of the genre.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 7 May 10 12:27
"Sugar" really is a very fine film.
Emma Span (emmakspan) Fri 7 May 10 23:20
This isn't in response to a particular question, but at the risk of putting off the Red Sox and Giants fans in the room, I thoroughly enjoyed tonight's games - the Yankees winning thanks to a Josh Beckett Blues Implosion, and the Mets unlikely comeback thanks to Ike Davis and, of all people, Rod Barajas. A good baseball night in New York! To tie it back into movies, sorta: a friend of mine pointed out last week that, as far as anyone can tell, Mets rookie Isaac ("Ike") Davis is the first Major League player to share a name with a Woody Allen character (the protagonist of Manhattan). Now you know...
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Fri 7 May 10 23:43
It's now at the top of my Netflix queue too. There was an action figure of Bucky Dent that my husband wanted -- i didn't get back to the store to buy it in time, but now that I remember I'll try to find it for father's day -- and he was looking at his stance in it and said "oh yeah, I remember that play." I mean, it wasn't even that weird a pose, not like he was doing the splits in the air like Don Zimmer. So Emma, you *really* never looked at a schlong?? You can tell us. Really.
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Fri 7 May 10 23:44
p.s. what, you never saw the Woody Allen movie "Take the Mookie Wilson and Run?"
that old cop cards and yarn thing (crow) Sun 9 May 10 13:23
I remember a couple of years after I got into baseball, talking with my boyfriend about some player and he said "Did you ever think you'd be able to recognize somebody just by how they run?" No, I hadn't, had no idea it was possible! This skill served me well later when I got into fencing, where everybody is dressed pretty much alike.
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sun 9 May 10 15:36
Randy says a pitcher on the A's pitched a perfect game today?
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Sun 9 May 10 20:07
Indeed. Today, Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major-league history. A's 4, Tampa Bay 0.
jelly fish challenged (reet) Sun 9 May 10 20:49
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sun 9 May 10 21:24
and it was only his 18th victory? did I read that right?
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 10 May 10 05:14
Emma, to, um, expand on Amy's earlier question, in what ways did other female sportswriters show you the ropes, as it were, about working in the locker room? I don't have a prurient interest in this (I don't think!). What's interesting, though, is that female sportswriters reporting from male locker rooms is one of the very, very few co-ed situations in our society where everyone is expected to just do their jobs as if nothing is out of the ordinary even though half the people are naked or nearly so.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 10 May 10 16:22
I've always been curious about that and wondered why the interviews needed to take place in the locker room.
Emma Span (emmakspan) Mon 10 May 10 23:05
Yes, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game yesterday. For those of you not following the ridiculous controversy of a few weeks ago when he called out Alex Rodriguez for running over "his mound" on the way back to the dugout... well, thankfully for all us bloggers, that story will never die now! Steve, other female reporters were, to a woman, great to me - friendly and happy to answer questions or share advice. But often I would be the only woman in the locker room on a given day. It's not that big a deal anymore - the players have all seen it before, and I'm not prudish about nudity - but still, especially at first, there is some unavoidable awkwardness about where to put your eyes, and how dressed a player needs to be before you feel comfortable approaching him. (Of course, I think this is a little awkward for men too, in the beginning - being fully clothed surrounded by big naked dudes is just an unusual work environment regardless of gender or sexual orientation). And yes, having the interviews occur in the locker room is kind of an odd throwback to the days of all-male writers and a much less formal player-media relationship. The idea is that everyone hangs out together and that facilitates getting to know the players, and forces them to be around to talk, at least for a moment. But as these days most star players spend a lot of time in off-limits back rooms, it doesn't always work out that way.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 11 May 10 03:24
Before I read your book, Emma, I hadn't realized there are those off-limits back rooms. I knew about trainer's rooms and knew reporters aren't allowed there, but I didn't know there's an inner sanctum and then a sanctum sanctorum. It's like backstage at a rock concert -- there's "backstage" and then there's Backstage. Emma, you write that before your first game as a sportswriter, you emailed a NY Times sportswriter and asked him a ton of questions. He responded informatively, but you also write that he responded "I can't believe you're asking me this..." to at least a couple of your queries. Yet those are probably just the kind of questions the rest of us here would ask. Care to fess up about the questions the Times guy couldn't believe you were asking him about?
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Wed 12 May 10 07:31
Thanks to everyone for contributing to this great conversation about baseball. Just wanted to let you all know that Emma Span will be here for an addtional week. Carry on, or should I say: Play ball!
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Wed 12 May 10 07:54
Emma, I came across a bit of writing the other day that made me think about the intersection of film and baseball. This is from "As They See 'Em," Bruce Weber's exceptionally good book about umpires and umpiring (originally published in 2009, now out in paperback): "For fans, for players, for broadcasters and everyone else, the appeal of a ball game is that it is a story, with characters, a measure of uncertainty and suspense, a beginning, middle, an end, and in the best of circumstances a climax and a denouement." (The passage continues: "But for the umpires, the story can be nothing but a distraction. For them the game needs to be a procession of episodes, each only as weighty as the previous one, and it's imperative for them to combat the very human impulse to be drawn into the drama.") I thought of your opinion that very few good baseball films have been made so far, and the reason might just be that a good ball game is already a good story. Hollywood can only add fluff to something that's already there organically -- that is, can only add distractions that take away from the central story rather than add to it.
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Wed 12 May 10 10:23
we moved and i can't find teh book to finish it. will follow along anyway until it is unpacked.
Gary Greenberg (gberg) Wed 12 May 10 13:11
> thought of your opinion that very few good baseball films have been made so far, and the reason might just be that a good ball game is already a good story. Hollywood can only add fluff to something that's already there organically -- that is, can only add distractions that take away from the central story rather than add to it. That;'s an interesting point. It's also the case that what movies tend to do with the baseball narrative, and really sports in general, is use it as an opportunity to get all sentimental and pious and nostalgic. That's why Bull Durham was so refreshing. It didn't take baseball too seriously, and wasn't afraid to poke fun at its pieties.
Gail (gail) Wed 12 May 10 13:39
Sports are the ultimate reality tv show -- there is a framework but you do not know what people will actually do. When part of the charm is that something is unscripted, that means that if you do decide to script a story you had better bring something else to the table.
Emma Span (emmakspan) Fri 14 May 10 05:42
Hi all, Sorry for the absence yesterday- it's been a crazy few days. Steve, funny you should mention Bruce Weber's book, because I happen to have it on my nightstand right now - haven't gotten very far yet but, so far, I really like it. The point that umpires need to stay out of the drama is also true, to a certain extent, of reporters and stat analysts... you can't let yourself get too drawn into a narrative or you may let that influence your view of the situation. (Of course, for fans that's half the fun).
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 14 May 10 05:55
I'm about half-way through the Weber book, and it's terrific in every way. Looking at a baseball game through the eyes of the umpire is to see the game in an entirely new way. For example, I thought I had a passable working knowledge of the rules of baseball, but the book proves I don't. (Most fans, even detail-minded fans, don't, either.) Just one little bit that I learned: a tie, in fact, does *not* go to the runner. According to Rule 7.01, "A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out." So the runner has to beat the ball to the base. A tie, then, goes to the baseman, not the runner. Now that I know this, on those super-close plays at first base it makes sense that the umpire seems to always award the out to the defense. Before, I wondered why runners don't complain more. Another thing: Don't ever call an umpire "Blue." That's bush. Emma, what other baseball books have you liked?
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 14 May 10 07:03
For that matter, let's open this up: I'd love to hear from everyone in this conversation about their favorite baseball books and why they love those books. Non-fiction or fiction, doesn't matter. When I was a kid I read the original edition of "My Greatest Day in Baseball," which collected as-told-to remembrances by some of the great names of baseball's golden era -- Ruth, Gehrig, Walter Johnson, etc. (The Ruth essay included the first use of "helluva" I'd ever seen in print.) It's a lively, wonderful book. Another classic I could read over and over again: "The Glory of Their Times" by Lawrence Ritter. Some think this is the best baseball book ever, and I'm not inclined to disagree. It's a collection of interviews with more great players from the golden era.
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