inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #51 of 95: 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? 

 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #52 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #53 of 95: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 7 May 10 08:02
    
Yeah, the original Bad News Bears was not at all bad!
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #54 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #55 of 95: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 7 May 10 12:27
    
"Sugar" really is a very fine film. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #56 of 95: 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...
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #57 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #58 of 95: 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?" 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #59 of 95: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #60 of 95: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sun 9 May 10 15:36
    
Randy says a pitcher on the A's pitched a perfect game today?
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #61 of 95: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #62 of 95: jelly fish challenged (reet) Sun 9 May 10 20:49
    
How wonderful!
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #63 of 95: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sun 9 May 10 21:24
    
and it was only his 18th victory? did I read that right? 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #64 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #65 of 95: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #66 of 95: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #67 of 95: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #68 of 95: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #69 of 95: 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.  
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #70 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #71 of 95: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #72 of 95: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #73 of 95: 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).
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #74 of 95: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.383 : Emma Span, "90% of the Game is Half Mental"
permalink #75 of 95: 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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