I’ve never held myself out as much of a baseball fan. Part of it, I’m sure, is that I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and everything there — particularly when I was a kid — began and ended with the Dallas Cowboys. I also imagine that the state of the area’s professional baseball team, the Texas Rangers, had much to do with it. Simply put, they’ve been bad most of my life.
Emphasis on most of. They certainly aren’t bad now. For the second consecutive season, they’re in the World Series, and they head into Saturday’s Game 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals with the series tied 1-1.
This later-in-my-life success by my hometown team has made me an eager and unapologetic bandwagon jumper. For a bit of perspective, I turned to my stepfather, Charles Clines, a former sportswriter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who, as a beat writer covering the Rangers in the 1970s, had a front-and-center seat for that bad bit of baseball theater.
Here are a few memories from Charles:
I don’t remember a whole lot, except for some of the crazy stuff. I don’t remember the players focusing on winning their division, or even talking about it. I think they were just happy to win a game every now and then, though several of them had other things on their minds when out of town.
The team had several guys who I would classify as self-centered losers. There were a few of the players I respected, though, with Jim Sundberg being at the top of the list. And a couple of them were fun to be around and who didn’t mind associating with a sportswriter.
Of course, there wasn’t a great fan base because the team wasn’t winning. That’s the main reason they showcased David Clyde, the pitcher just out of high school. I was lucky enough to be one of the writers at his pitching debut, the first sellout ever at Arlington Stadium. It was quite an outing for Clyde, who struck out and baffled some great hitters. (Here’s the boxscore from that game.) Too bad the Rangers didn’t protect him better and bring him along at a slower pace, but they needed the fans and the money at his expense.
What I remember the most is how immature many of the players were. Remember many baseball players come right out of high school, and they have never had a lot of media or public contact. Sometimes on the team bus when on a trip it was like being on a high school bus with unruly teens — maybe worse.
I don’t know how to compare those players with the current Rangers because I have no contact with the current team. But they obviously are MUCH more talented and hopefully much more mature, and they seem as if they are and they not only talk about winning their division, but winning the World Series. That would have only been in the dreams of the teams that I helped cover.
On May 2, 2011, with this post, I began everyday blogging around here (well, Monday through Friday, anyway). For nearly five months, with the exception of a legitimate week’s vacation, I made sure something new was up every morning at 8. On Fridays, I even posted off-the-cuff short stories, inspired by words suggested by my friends.
I did this … why? To be sure, no one was clamoring for it. I did it because new authors — and I’m certainly one — endure this barrage of advice about building a platform, self-promoting, cutting through the muck and the mud of the publishing world and making a name. Daily blogging is one of the pillars of the author platform, or so we’re told. So I blogged. Even when I had little to say. Even when I needed the ample muscles of a friend.
And then, last week, I stopped. I did one last short story, big turd that it is, and that was that.
I’m done. Which isn’t to say I’ll never be around, never have something to say. In particular, the opportunity to bang the drum for other books and other writers is appealing to me — because of how interesting those folks are and because my daily wankery is not on display. Expect to see much more of those things and much less of the other, lesser stuff. This note aside, I’m tired of listening to myself, tired of reading my own facile words in this forum. It’s time to step back, shut up, and get busy doing what I’m here to do, which is to write stories. Social media, for all its wonder, has its hooks in the wrong parts of me, and the tweets and Facebook posts and blog posts and other nonsense have come to take up far too much of my time. I have a full-time job and a going-blind father and a sideline publishing business and a wife who’d like to see me once in a while, and I have books to write, too. There’s not room for everything, every day, and mine is not the sort of personality that can easily impose moderation, so we’re going to give this austerity thing a whirl.
Interestingly enough, I’m going be on a panel discussion about the role of literature blogs during the Montana Festival of the Book later this week. I promise, this screed aside, I’ll have something cogent to say.