Baseball 101 for Women

I think there’s a misconception in the male sports fan world that women can’t be REAL sports enthusiasts.  Historically, womens’ role in sports have been relegated to cheerleading, or eventually they “let us have” softball.  Men just don’t think we get it.  Today at Citizens Bank Park, if more men could’ve seen us running the bases with Davy Lopes, long-tossing with Steve Smith, throwing in the bullpen at Rich Dubee’s direction, or taking batting practice with Jimy Williams and Milt Thompson, we might’ve earned a little more respect.  And maybe more than a little jealousy, because men weren’t allowed at the Baseball 101 Clinic.  🙂

Scott Palmer did a great job MCing the event.  Even my husband laughed when I told him Palmer’s “DH” joke.  (Quite the relief for me.  John’s a jealous guy, and I was afraid he’d take it the wrong way.)  One of the things Palmer mentioned was how much energy women bring to these events, and he’s right.  We were all buzzed to get out on the field and show what we could do AND learn as much as possible from the pros.  You can’t get much better pros to learn from, either.  One of my all-time favorite pictures is from my first trip to Baseball 101, of Milt Thompson exhibiting incredible patience at my lack of batting skills.

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But the great thing is that after my first trip to Baseball 101, I went to the batting cages and put what Milt taught me into practice.  Milt’s instruction also fueled Paul’s drive to play the game in “Release Point”.  (PS, there’s an excerpt tab at the top of the page.)  Today Jimy showed me a better way to swing, and I’m going to put that to use this weekend.  It’s too much fun, going to the batting cage, stepping in and shutting the gate behind me.  All those dads, watching their Little Leaguers getting some practice, look at me as if they’re thinking, “What does she think she’s doing?”  Trust me, guys, I know what I’m doing.  I learned from some of the BEST.

Scott Frantzke put on a great “You Call The Play” session, and we learned a lot about broadcasting a baseball game.  It’s not just a matter of talking about what you’re watching.  Rollie DeArmas (coach of the bronze-medal-winning USA baseball team!) had some amazing things to tell us about his experiences at the Olympic games.  Frank Coppenbarger, as usual, was SO entertaining!  Even lunch was delicious!  (I missed out on breakfast.  I was too excited to eat.) 

In May 2006 when I first went to Baseball 101, I’d just finished writing “Release Point” and I thought I had a winner on my hands.  I was convinced I’d walk up to Leslie Gudel and get her so excited about my book that she’d talk about it on SportsNite.  (When I dream, I dream big.)  Alas, I never worked up the nerve.  Two years later, I’ve rewritten the story because of some of the things I learned at the Baseball 101 clinics, and since then I’ve signed with a literary agent courtesy of Chris Coste.  I’ve also finished another book, “Listen to Your Heart”, which also centers around baseball (Induction week at Cooperstown; check the Teaser tab above).  To say my life revolves around baseball is probably an understatement, but if I become known as the baseball romance writer, hey, it’s a great niche and I’ll happily take it.  There are a lot worse things to get obsessed about.  Alas, if only the season were longer than 162 games.  I’m sure I’ll love the World Series when the Phillies are in it, but it breaks my heart every year, knowing when the Series begins that I’m counting down to the end of my other passion for the year.  (Fortunately I can write all year long!)  🙂

But before I get too maudlin, knowing there are only 30-something more games this year (sigh!), here are some more pics from our day at Baseball 101:

Baseball 101 Clinic on the scoreboard
Davy Lopes instructing us on the correct way to tag first when you've just hit a double
A ball's-eye view from right field (Becca took the same photo at Doubleday Field in "Listen to Your Heart")

 

Jimy Williams instructing my friend Ruth (who I just met today!)
Jimy Williams instructing my friend Ruth (who I just met today!)
My new friend Ruth shaking hands with Jimy Williams
My new friend Genie shaking hands with Jimy Williams
Brad "Lights Out" Lidge! What a cool guy! Always a great answer to our questions!
Brad "Lights Out" Lidge! What a cool guy! Always a great answer to our questions!
-)
The Phanatic was up to his old shenanigans. 🙂

Hi to Ruth and Genie, and thank you again for inviting me to share your table!  I had SUCH a great time, and I’m glad you enjoyed the day too!  I hope I’ll see you again at Baseball 101 in May, 2009!

I’m back!

Just a quick note to say I’m back from Vegas finally.  Loved it there, but by Friday I was ready to come home.  The mountains were incredible, the bright lights incomparable, and the air so damn dry that my sinuses are still recovering.  We managed to cover 3 states in 5 days, but only because we found ourselves in Arizona completely by accident.  I brought home 2 stones from Mojave National Preserve so I can officially say I have a little piece of California here in Pennsylvania.  I won at slots (a little something) and couldn’t win diddly squat afterwards.  The best part, though, was the fact that I didn’t get sick on the plane ride, the NASCAR ride-along, or the helicopter trip.  Thank GOD for those motion sickness bracelets!  I even got video of our takeoff, so look me up on YouTube under IEPMom17 if you want to see it. 

So glad to be back!

No News is No News

Well, I can’t entirely say there’s no news.  Our $185K counter-offer was met with a $193K counter-offer.  We thought about it a lot, I cried about it a little, our poor real estate agent (bless her heart) tried to crunch the numbers so we could manage it, but I just don’t see how it’s going to work.  Aside from that, when I said “Final Offer” I meant “Final Offer”, and anything else is me going back on my word, and I don’t do that.  I hate having to go back to square one, but I really don’t think they’re going to get an offer better than ours between now and when we get back from vacation, and if they do, more power to them. 

Aside from that, one of our earlier houses (that we’d ruled out when High Street and Caroline Drive came into view) suddenly doesn’t look so bad anymore.  (Nice back yard, 2 bathrooms; parking is an issue but maybe one we can live with)  As if Fate wanted its say, the price was just reduced yesterday too.  Our Plan C house would cost $24,000 less in principle and $200 less per month.  We’re hoping to schedule a meet-the-parents view the week after we get back, if it’s still available.  If not, well, back to Square One. 

John was getting a little anxious that we’re not going to get a better place, and he was almost willing to take the $193K offer.  As for me, I can’t justify paying more for our 2nd choice when it had less to offer.  I just think the sellers are either greedy, overextended (maybe they’re buying a house where they need every penny from the sale to apply to the new place), or insane.  Either way, when they come back to Planet Earth, we’ll talk.  Until then, enjoy your delusions of grandeur while you still can.

Getting that Crazy Feeling Again

I keep telling myself I don’t have a sixth sense, I can’t predict the future, and I can’t talk to ghosts, but sometimes I do it anyway.  It’s cool in a way, but I don’t tell a lot of people about it (I guess that’s over with now) because I’m sure they’d look at me like, “Yeah right.  Tell me what number I’m thinking of.”  Chances are good I’d get it wrong, but once in a while, like a blind squirrel finding a nut, I hit it on the head.  I’ve been known to “predict” what song is coming on the radio next or say something before someone else says it.  My grandmother visited me once; the problem was, she was in Florida, in a coma following hip surgery, and I was in NY nursing Alex at 3 in the morning.  But I know like I know my own name that she was there, smiling and so proud to finally meet her grandsons.  The worst guilt I will take to my grave is that we never went to Florida so Oma could meet the boys, but when her spirit was finally free, she came to us.  My mother called that morning to say Oma had passed overnight. 

And after I lost Caroline, for a moment I stood in the kitchen making breakfast on a Saturday morning and I had a vision; I was looking at the cabinets but I “saw” several people sitting around a baby in a soft yellow blanket, and the baby had a full head of dark, wavy hair (like John’s used to be).  I’m not sure who held her but I knew the baby was Caroline, and “they” told me that she was safe and they’d look after her for us.  At that moment I knew she was in good hands.  I’m pretty sure my Grandpa and Nana were there, and Oma and Opa, but there were people there, too, that I didn’t recognize, and I’m pretty sure they were John’s grandparents.  I just got such a good feeling that from that point on, I knew it was okay.

Anyway, a month or so ago, on a Monday, I had the intense sensation that I couldn’t breathe but not because of an allergy attack.  I was overwhelmed with the feeling that there was HUGE good news coming.  I wasn’t sure what or where, but of course I hoped it was news from my agent that I’d sold “Listen to Your Heart”.  I waited all week but didn’t hear what I wanted to hear, but the feeling didn’t go away.  That is, until Judi Fennell emailed our chapter saying she’d sold her 3-book series to Sourcebooks.  I was SO excited and happy for her, and it wasn’t until later that I realized, that’s where the good feeling was coming from.  As it turns out, Judi learned on Monday that Sourcebooks was buying her Mer series, but until her agent went over the paperwork, Judi couldn’t say anything to the rest of us until Thursday.

This morning I was hit with the same feeling again.  Can’t quite breathe, light palpitations, minor anxiety (but of a good kind).  Naturally I’m praying it’s me, but I know now that it can be anyone close to me.  Of course, we’re still waiting on a 2nd counter-offer from the sellers on Caroline Drive but I’ve pretty much given up on that, so I don’t think that’s it.  We’re going on vacation next week but I know that already.  What could it be?  If I hear back today, I’ll let you know.

And the beat goes on

The first offer of $180K was met with a counter-offer of $195K.  They’re insane.  Our first choice house went for $190K with a better back yard view, bigger kitchen, and bigger yard.  As a friend asked me, “Did they smoke their lunch?”  I’m so frustrated, I’m back to hoping they turn down the offer, just because I don’t want to give them the satisfaction, but instead we counter-offered $185K (the additional $5K being in the down payment, coming out of our nest egg, so the principle doesn’t change) and that’s our final offer.  At this point we only want a yes or no answer.  It’s not like we’re asking for the world.  We don’t want a seller’s assist, we don’t want help paying for the closing costs; just sell us the house and move out.  If they think we’d pay $5K more for our second choice, they’re certifiable.  If they think they can get more than $185K, I’d like to remind them that the house has been on the market for 4 months and they’ve already found a house they want to buy, so good luck in selling their house because for $195K, we’re not buying.  Remember, it IS a buyer’s market, at least this week.

NJRW posted the contest finalists on their website:  http://www.njromancewriters.org/contest.asp  It’s nice to know I wasn’t just imagining it or hallucinating.  We know the air filters in the office haven’t been replaced since the Reagan administration, so anything’s possible, but imagining that I’d finaled, fortunately, wasn’t just a dream.  Trying to dream up what I’m going to wear, however, may be a nightmare.  The conference coordinator said she’s implementing a rule that no contestant can look better than she does, but I told her, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem here.  🙂

Where has this week gone?  It’s Wednesday already.  This time next week, I may be standing on Hoover Dam.  I could use some good news.  Anybody got any to share?

“Champion” and other songs

I heard this song last night and it hit a nerve.  A week before, when I was in PMS, it would’ve rolled off my back like water off a duck, but this week, the timing was right. 

http://attblueroom.com/sports/teamusa/soundtrack/english/index.php

I’m not sure if this counts as Deus Ex iPod again (I’ve had that happen a few times since I blogged about it) but it feels good, and I needed to hear it.  I was thinking this morning, as Jon McLaughlin’s “So Close” came on, about how some songs just wrap themselves around my stories, the way “So Close” is all over “Worlds Apart”.  “Centerfield” is all over “Release Point”, and “Taking Chances” is all over “Listen to Your Heart”, and “If You’re Reading This” is the working title for my current project as well as a fantastic Tim McGraw song that brings tears to my eyes every time.  “Champions” could be the theme for Kara’s story (first female MLB player); that girl is going to have to fight, kick and claw her way to get what she wants, even if it means letting go of the love of her life (is it a man?  is it baseball?  who knows?), but that’s not the story I’m working on at the moment.  That one’s marinating in the background, waiting for her turn to shine.  And shine she will.  Alas, if I could go back 30 years in my life, the different decisions I’d make.

…And then?

So the first offer got turned down.  We were short by $10K.  Okay.  It wasn’t meant to be. 

We put an offer on another house today.  I have a good feeling about it, especially since they just dropped the price by $2K before we put our offer in.  The owners have found a house they want, so they’re ready to go.  Closing might get pushed back a little but I’m fine with that.  I really like that we might have an office where we can keep the computer, so it doesn’t need to be in the bedroom.  There was an article on CNN that said if you really want romance in your life,  take the TV and computer out of the bedroom.  It’s so simple, it just might work.

I found a scarf pattern I really like.  It’s easy and it goes fast, but not so fast that I’m bored with it.  Something to do on the 5-hour plane ride next week! 

No writing yet, but the craving is there, worse than chocolate.  I hear music and think of my characters, but my focus is on so many other things that I just can’t get to it.  Rats.  But I wasn’t going to sign on to the computer tonight and I did it anyway.  Maybe I’ll just see what I can do…  😉

Day Off

I have no idea how long it’s been since I took a serious day off.  I mean like, not going to work, not looking at work-related email, not even thinking about the office.  It’s sweet beyond words.  The alarm went off at the same time as always but I laid there, guilt-free, and snoozed for half an hour. 

On the other hand, I’ve got a ton of stuff to do today.  I have to go to the bank to get a signature guarantee so our money market fund can transfer our “good faith” money to the checking account, and then we meet with Kim to finalize the offer paperwork.  (I’m looking at it on the table beside me; the local phone book is jealous.)  Then I go to the Sunshine Games at the boys’ camp.  THAT much will be fun; Variety Club does all-day parties right.  🙂  There’ll be moon bounces at every turn, water games, baseketball, softball, food, music, dancing and smiles, you name it.  Given everything else I have going on today, it makes me want to be 11 all over again.

But I’m also going to mix in some fun just for me.  I’m going to stop at AC Moore and get myself some short knitting needles so I might be able to knit on the plane to Vegas.  (I’m told knitting needles are on TSA’s “okay” list, but I’m also told it depends on who’s doing the checking.  As long as they’re not my grandmothers’ needles, I’ll take a chance.)  I’m going to take the boys to Rita’s for custard after the Games.  I’m going to relax and knit for a while this afternoon, and tonight with our steak dinner (it’s sitting in marinade right now) I’m going to enjoy a lovely little glass of wine.  On top of everything else, when the joy of today is over, I still have the whole weekend ahead of me. 

Maybe John’s got a point.  Maybe it’s more fun taking off on Fridays rather than Mondays.  My only problem with Sundays is knowing that Monday’s right around the corner.  Ugh.

And on top of everything else, I’m still buzzed over the Put Your Heart in a Book finalist placement.  When the official announcement comes out, I’ll post it here.  I’m not bragging.  Much.  (But man, did my ego need this right now.)  🙂

Welcome to Bipolar Hell

I swear, I’m not making fun of anyone with bipolar disorder.  I had a friend who struggled with it and I’ve researched it for a character, so I know it’s nothing to joke about.  I’m only talking about the polar opposite directions my day has taken so far.

First, we got the call that there is another offer on the house we want.  It’s “decent”, we’re told, but we don’t know the number, so this is to be a silent auction.  We’re upping our offer but I’m nervous; how close to broke is this going to make us every month?  (The lender is revising our pre-application numbers.)  We’ve concluded that if the other offer is better, good luck to them.  We’ll put an offer in on the other house across the street.  (“Sweet Caroline…”)  So what if the park isn’t our back yard; it’s just a few feet away, and the backup house doesn’t need a new deck in a year or two.  (I swear, if that deck collapses next summer, I’m going to laugh my butt off…right after I call 911.) 

Then I got the call that Release Point finaled in the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book contest.  I’m one of just three finalists so holy geez, my book is one of the three best entries?  Woo hoo!  I’ve never finaled in anything so I’m pretty excited.  The truly cool thing is that so many of my VFRW sisters are going to the NJ conference (where the winners are announced), including Laura and Robin and Judi, so I’m going to have my own cheering section there.  Hopefully they can keep me from being too nervous and/or throwing up.  (I’m not taking any bets.)  I wonder if I get to wear a “Kiss me, I’m a finalist” button?  🙂

I’m picking up cherries on the way home because I want some (even though they’re not on my diet), and I’m making us a nice dinner, and whatever happens with the house or the contest, happens.  Life is still good, no matter what.  (Quite the switch from my frame of mind yesterday, huh?)