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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Getting a Job: Writing for a new baseball site

On the prodding of Susan Bernard, my eminently qualified writer friend, I applied to a baseball website for a position as team writer. The new site (really, really new) is called the Hometown 9.

I picked the Chicago Cubs, and maybe, through a little luck, I'll get my writing career rolling. Anyways, here's the first two pieces: one is my bio, the other, my opening day piece.
My Bio: I come from a long background of frustrated ballplayers as both my grandfathers spent time in the pursuit of playing baseball at the minor league level. Grandpa Clark tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers before being told by Uncle Sam they needed 17-year olds to fight in WWII. As a result, he never got to meet Branch Rickey or that man’s miserly and ingenious ways personally. Grandpa Powers tried his hand in the Texas Leagues of the 1920’s. No records on his success, but I know he spent 37 years as a state penitentiary guard. That pretty much says it all.

Before I swindled Purdue University out an Industrial Engineering degree (or did they take me?), I was likely in hot pursuit of fly ball in centerfield. I grew up on the Chicago Cubs, wishing I could one day patrol their cozy confines in pursuit of some wind blown high pop, while also hoping Jay Johnstone wouldn’t be in the same pursuit.

My high school career never amounted to the glory of getting a visit from a tobacco-chewing scout. Some how 5’6”, 165-pound lefties weren’t on the short list of players to watch. But I could really throw that “speed ball” by you. (Glory Days reference.)

Instead, I matriculated to the concrete jungle that is Purdue University. There, I learned how to walk 1 mile across campus at 7:00 AM in 15 minutes, spend 50 minutes in class, usually falling asleep, then back to the dorm in 20 minutes, due to the headwinds of winter. That practice became a rarity; and so did my achievement of good grades, as a 2.07 GPA attests to.

Baseball play turned to baseball fantasy turned to baseball disenchantment with the 1994 strike. I felt cheated on – unlike my imaginary girlfriends – and so, I put aside the game for a spell. I am sorry for that enterprise, and I am a reformed addict. (No lie.)

So that’s it. Professionally, I have wandered away from industrial engineering and decided upon the career of “writing.” This is my first gig – aside from blogging for several years and slogging through writings that are the epitome of Americana – and I hope it will be a smashing success.

Maybe the Cubs will be too.

1st Article: Opening Day: She’s coming back to me

The mistress of spring is coming back home after a heady trip abroad. She’s wearing a devilish blue dress, cut low, the way I like it, and carrying a baseball bat. Again, the way I love it. That is but one vision of baseball that in my more sensuous dreams might exist.

“What is Love?” but that of a pitcher scraping dirt off the rubber, digging his toe into side, and steaming a bee ball toward a tightly-muscled assassin with a 35-inch thunder maker in his clutches. As the pop of the mit or the sweet crack of the bat means we are seeing the first of thousands of confrontations between the two diametrically-opposed fellas. That is love to a baseball fan.

In our nation’s capital, as the 2008 election stirs patriotic feelings, the Washington Nationals open a new cathedral for the baseball gods to perform their wondrous feats. It seems Cuba’s better known Castro knew the park was going to be a startling vision, and decided, “leader of Cuba or new Washington Senator, er, National pitching prospect?” and chose to give it, just one more try.

As a team in search of a new owner, the Chicago Cubs are seeking to break through after 100 years. 100 years. When they last proclaimed the title of World Champions, the world had no supersonic travel, no television, no atomic annihilation, no internet, no rights to vote for women, and still held back African-Americans. How times have evolved for some. As the team has changed hands, from restaurateur, to gum maker, to son-of-a-(gun) gum maker to corporate conglomerate, the loyalty of the fans has kept alive the dreams of William Wrigley, who never won a title, but is the name everyone will forever associate with the ballpark at Clark & Addison. No matter what the current real estate man has to say about it.

In Los Angeles, fifty years after their movement west on a subsonic bird of Orville Wright’s wilder dreams, the Dodgers are playing again in the L.A. Coliseum. A place developed for Olympic feats and USC football, it makes for a quirky attempt to put 80,000 fans aghast at the odd dimensions swinging around to the left field area. Where an outfielder has to put on protective gear, or at least, gets an opportunity to add 3rd base to his list of abilities. Only outfielder Wally Moon might reminisce fondly about his time hitting in this short-lived version of a major league ballpark.

These are some of the new memories surrounding the return of my mistress from abroad. She is a broad – curvy, sometimes luscious, full of vigor, but she never ages – and yet, she is hardened by a seven-score affirmation that every spring she’ll come back home to us. Fresh. A clean slate. Mistakes forgiven. And more new memories to make whilst “rounding the sack.”

Opening Day. She’s home.
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