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April 19, 2010

Joe's Blog

One Night in April

by Joe Sheehan

The epic Mets/Cardinals game Saturday provided more than just memories. It gave me the first concrete new-content idea for the upcoming book.

I've mentioned the struggle to decide exactly what the book will look like, what material it will include, what percentage of it will be original versus new. The process is a bit like taking four or five jigsaw puzzles and tossing all the pieces together in a single pile on the table. You know there's a good picture in there, maybe even more than one, but to get to the end you're going to have to not only make the correct pieces fit, but you're going to have to throw out three-quarters of the ones you start with.

Well, what I have now is a small section, one that's tinted red with a little piece of arch. See, it's not just that the 20 innings of baseball were entertaining and even mildly historic. No, it was that so many facets of modern baseball, good and bad, were encapsulated in that seven-hour contest: roster construction; starter usage; one-run-strategies; tactical shortcomings; player decisionmaking. The game certainly could have made for an entertaining column-a number of people asked for one-but that would be underselling it. Saturday's game invites a discussion of how baseball teams are built and managed from star to stern.

Throw in that one of the managers involved was Tony La Russa, about whom 1.3 books have been written praising his baseball mind-but who had a poor day in the dugout-and it becomes an irresistible topic. Frankly, I didn't see it at first. It was my friend and longtime colleague Rany Jazayerli who pointed out that this game was worthy of not just a column, but a chapter of its own. For one thing, it would have taken thousands of words just to get through the game as it was. But when you look down each of the roads that was opened up, when Kyle Lohse went to left field instead of the pitcher's mound, or when Luis Castillo bunted against Joe Mather, or when Francisco Rodriguez went to the bullpen mound for the seventh time…there's a staggering amount of material here. I look forward to writing it all.

As we get deeper into spring and closer to the actual writing, I'm getting excited. This intimidating idea of "writing a book" is taking on manageable proportions, the way I imagine a marathoner doesn't look at running 26.2 miles, but just taking the next step. My next steps? Finalizing the structure and putting together a chapter list.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

8 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

radiobob

Your excitement leaps right off the page. Good for you!

Apr 19, 2010 18:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Scott D. Simon

Joe, while you contemplate the book, I know you're watching games. But do you read commentary/analysis? Come to think of it, have you ever?

Apr 19, 2010 18:28 PM
rating: -3
 
Farber

Excellent advertising, Joe. I just decided to buy your book, regardless of what other material is in there. (I probably would have anyway, but still...)

Apr 19, 2010 18:30 PM
rating: 0
 
villapalomares

K-Rod warmed up seven times!? That's nutty. I didn't realize it when I listened to the game on MLB.com audio. Look forward to reading your book Joe.

Apr 19, 2010 19:57 PM
rating: 0
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I can't think of a better guy to write this book. And what great material!

Apr 19, 2010 23:25 PM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

Can't wait for the book Joe.

Apr 20, 2010 05:56 AM
rating: 0
 
paultuns

A question I would like to see answered is why do managers go to position players before using a starter in late-inning relief (as the game approaches 20 innings). We all know Leo Durocher's famous quote about saving a pitcher for tomorrow, and to my eyes using a position player to pitch signals that the manager has given up. Worries about "using up" a starter should be weighed against the necessity of winning, that the victory could come with just one run, and the fact a starter can be called up for a game to replace those who have been used.

If anyone knows of a good analysis online, please point me that way, but in the absence of such material already existing, I hope Joe covers this in the chapter on this game.

Apr 20, 2010 06:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Scott D. Simon

I guess my comment was so unclear it appeared insulting...

When I wrote "Joe, while you contemplate the book, I know you're watching games. But do you read commentary/analysis? Come to think of it, have you ever?" what I meant was:

"There are all kinds of good writers (including Joe Sheehan) who have already analyzed this STL-NYM game. For example, Posnanski in SI: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/joe_posnanski/04/19/tony.larussa/index.html - so I am curious as to whether Joe Sheehan will read the work of others on the STL-NYM game before he writes his chapter on the game. I am also curious whether Joe would ever seek out others' opinions on something before writing about it himself."

I figured someone with strong (ahem) opinions like Sheehan might not want to read someone else on a subject he's planning to write about.

So rather than insulting Joe's work ethic or intelligence, I was curious about The Process of column- and book-writing.

Apr 20, 2010 07:34 AM
rating: 1
 
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