mayhap: Clint drinks straight from the coffee pot (Clint/coffee)
It's probably just as well that I don't live in Japan or I would be far too tempted to scoop up all of this adorable Café Inui merch. How can you say no to delicious probability 100%?

Meanwhile, Peter Moylan is serving the rest of the Royals coffee drinks out of his locker, including a signature drink involving espresso and chocolate milk over ice that he calls a "Sledge-iatto". Yum.
mayhap: (Hosmoose celebration)
HBO Partners with Major League Baseball to Promote Game of Thrones Season 7

Although I think A Song of Ice and Fire would pair better with American football, and not just because [Bad username or site: grrm @"] posts about football weekly during the season. I really want an AU where all the provinces of Westeros have football teams, or possibly are football teams, and the plot of the entire series is translated into seasons of football games, but I don't understand football nearly well enough to actually write it even if I would ever finish it, which I wouldn't.


Feb. 26th, 2017 09:37 am
mayhap: Alex Gordon wearing his glove on top of his head (glovehat)
Spring training games, are, of course, completely meaningless scrimmages with no bearing on anything, except when my team wins one, in which case they are clear portents of a successful season.
mayhap: watercolor star over a hill (le plus beau et le plus triste paysage)
I had something running through my head about how I felt about sports teams like Rudyard Kipling felt about dogs—they're just so gosh-darned adorable that I keep adopting them, knowing full well that mostly what they do is break your heart.

What I had in mind was injuries, trades, and playoff losses, though. Not this: Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura dies in Dominican Republic vehicle crash at age 25. It's the saddest fucking thing.
mayhap: Tezuka looks disappointed (eyes closed)
Mariners getting OF Jarrod Dyson for RHP Nathan Karns

I fucking hate this trade. It doesn't make emotional sense or baseball sense. It does cut payroll, though, which is the only thing David Glass cares about this offseason, apparently. I mean, sure, you're replacing a guy who was insanely affordable for his production with a giant box of question marks, but at least they're cheap question marks! Piece by piece we're replacing our team identity with pieces of castoff trash. It's a good thing David Glass can't actually sell the 2015 championship or I'm sure that would be gone too.
mayhap: watercolor of a girl looking down (a face like a glass of water)
I am the luckiest Yuletider in the world! I got this long, perfect sequel to a book that is as obscure as it is beloved by me:

A House For Me (12120 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Woman in the Wall - Patrice Kindl
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Anna Newland/F | Francis Albright
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Growing Up, Chicago (City), romance between stepsiblings

How Anna Newland made herself at home in Chicago.

And this delightful treat about my favorite baseball players:

Life On Line (1082 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Baseball RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Lorenzo Cain & Salvador Pérez
Characters: Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Pérez

Salvy visits Lolo in the off-season. Lorenzo wishes he'd stop calling him that.

I just realized, reading both stories together, that the common thread running through all three of my requests was people being pushed outside of their comfort zones in various ways.
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
What I've been reading

I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Thanks to the long time between the play opening and the script being published, it was the first time I consumed a Harry Potter book (-like object) without it being a scrupulously-unspoiled experience. I did start out avoiding the spoilers, but it ended up being untenable.

spoilers )

I read The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, a really entertaining collection of oral history. Deservedly a classic.

I read But Didn't We have Fun?: An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870, which covers even earlier days than The Glory of Their Times. I was personally looking for more about gameplay and how it changed during that time period, which this book touches lightly on but focuses more on changes in attitudes towards playing baseball at all, and also the shift from local amateur teams to recruiting professional teams, which is also very interesting.

I read Full of Briars, an novelette in the October Daye series but with Quentin as the POV character, and i don't know why. I mean I do know why, because I still keep up with the series and I like Quentin, but then I feel like Seanan McGuire's writing really only works for me with a POV character who fits within this very circumscribed range that is her sweet spot and this…does not fall within that range. At all. Also the whole encounter with Quentin's parents just fell unbelievably flat. I dunno, this made me actively less excited for the next actual Toby book, which is not great.

I read Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, which follows a pretty good number of minor league players and managers (plus an umpire and a groundskeeper) through a minor-league season.
mayhap: Alex Gordon wearing his glove on top of his head (glovehat)
What I've been reading

I read Whatever Life Throws at You, a young adult/new adult romance novel (I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, which I believe makes me an old adult) about how the daughter of the Kansas City Royals' new pitching coach falls in love with their new hotshot rookie pitcher. My expectations were low; I was mostly curious and expecting to be mildly entertained by how it depicted, or more likely failed to depict, the town where I live. It delivered roughly what I expected, occasional moments of semi-accuracy amidst a lot of blandness.

What transfixed me, though, was the author's complete and utter lack of understanding of how a major league pitching staff functions. I suffered through all the boring, poorly-written romance bits just to see what insane pitching changes they were going to make next. At one point, the hotshot rookie pitcher/love interest pitched at least three innings every day for four days in a row. They appear to use starting pitchers in relief constantly, but I think this is just a misunderstanding about what the terms "ace" and "number five pitcher" actually mean, because elsewhere there is a reference to a "number five mid-relief pitcher, which is…not a thing.

Then there's this gem from the deciding game of the ALCS against the Yankees:
The other starter was coming off four days in a row of pitching and Brody was fresher and more ready, so his name got pulled from the roster.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

I think my favorite part, though, is where Brody is throwing a perfect game in the World Series—because of course he is—and he's already been named Rookie of the Year—because of course he has, even though that doesn't even happen until the World Series is over—and apparently he's been relying either entirely or almost entirely on a mid-nineties fastball, with his slider and curveball being described as "newer pitches" that he's still "trying." What? No. No way has he even been starting without commanding, at a bare minimum, two pitches that he can mix effectively, much less is throwing a perfect game, much less is he throwing a perfect game in the World Series. Especially since his arm fell off from overuse months ago.
mayhap: (champions)
Mike Moustakas is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and I'm just fucking gutted.
mayhap: Junie B. Jones peeks from behind composition book (Junie B.)
The Royals play the White Sox, who are currently sitting two games ahead of them in the central division, at the same time as the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. I'm going to have to try to watch them both at once.

Edit: well, the game is officially postponed, so this is one problem that I don't have anymore. At least I didn't get hit by a tornado.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Brain Camp, another graphic novel that Faith Erin Hicks drew but did not write. I wasn't that excited about this collaboration, though. It's a summer camp horror story with some reasonably creepy touches but not a lot going on in terms of its cast of characters.

I read The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team. Two writers for Baseball Prospectus got to try to play moneyball on a shoestring with an indy ball team last year, and as though they thought it was an essential part of the moneyball process, they immediately handcuffed themselves by accidentally appointing a manager who, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe-like, was not interested in and did not intend to implement their statistically-driven suggestions or experiments. Although this makes for some entertaining drama that is good book fodder, it really limits the extent to which they are able to put their stamp on the Sonoma Stompers' season, for good and ill. A lot of writers could have written an observational book about the strange world of indy ball, and these are some of the only writers who would have been interested in implementing a five-man infield, so it seems like a bit of a waste. Very entertaining read, though.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre. A few of them are straight-up fanfiction, a few more are so loosely "inspired" that I never would have guessed it in a million years, and most of them are somewhere in between. By far my favorite story in the collection is Audrey Niffenegger's, which is an AU fic sort of thing with spoilers ).

I read The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. I'd read the original comic when it was going around but didn't realize that there was a whole book and that it was gloriously overstuffed with footnotes. I enjoyed the footnotes at least as much as the comics; they're filled with delight.

I read The Catcher was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg because Paul Rudd, the dreamiest Royals superfan/cosplayer, got cast as Berg in a film adaptation. It's an interesting story and I'm curious if a movie is going to even try, much less succeed, at capturing how very peculiar Berg and the life he made for himself were. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, although I don't quite understand why in an otherwise chronological account the author chose to reserve a bunch of stuff about Berg's relationship with his father and how it affected him until the last chapter. It's not even like the rest of the book just recounted his actions without trying to understand his motivations! He just saved that particular motivation for last for some reason!
mayhap: (champions)
There's just nothing fair about this incredible 6-3 double play from last night. Carlos Gomez had just broken up Ian Kennedy's no-hitter with a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. Marwin Gonzalez followed it up with a bloop that by rights should have fallen for a hit in an awkward spot in shallow center. Instead, Alcides Escobar raced out, made a sliding over-the-shoulder catch, popped back up to his feet and doubled Gomez off with a long throw to first. There's a reason they call him El Mago.

Once more, with Statcast.
mayhap: (champions)
I think those last two innings actually shortened my lifespan, and I wouldn't have it any other way. ♥
mayhap: (Wade Davis)
What I've been reading

I read The War that Saved My Life, which was a Newbery Honor book, among other honors. Although it was extremely accomplished in many respects, I thought it felt very anachronistic and very American, and it seems really lazy to keep going back to the WWII well for award bait, especially when the setting feels so unconvincing. I mean, I wouldn't be so annoyed if it wasn't so good otherwise!

I read The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player, a book which my dad bought for himself but which I stole and read first because it looked interesting. It was interesting, although since it mostly covered things like how hitters physically recognize and react to pitches and how outfielders track balls I have to imagine there's been more recent/technologically advanced research since 2007 that would be pertinent.

I read The Shadow Hero, the origin story for a Chinese-American superhero that Gene Luen Yang invented based on a real character from some off-brand golden age comics who showed up in five issues and then vanished forever. Which is a really cool idea, even though I think, tonally, the execution is a little all over the place.

I read Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero. Apparently, before baseball gloves were invented catchers used to catch barehanded, which was all very well and good until pitchers started trying to actually get batters out with their pitches, instead of just sort of lobbing the ball out there to get things started. The good catchers apparently had a knack for sort of using the fingers of both hands to absorb the speed of the ball, but even then their fingers were constantly broken or split open or both. In spite of this, lots of boys apparently wanted to be catchers for some reason—this is where the author's thesis about folk heroes comes in—but even with this large potential talent pool it got to the point that there were only a handful of major-league calibre catchers who were uninjured enough to play at all, which put a hard limit on the number of competitive teams that could be fielded. Then the mask, chest protector and glove were invented, in that order, and the catcher bottleneck disappeared, although in spite of the fact that catching is still so arduous that I think you have to be a little crazy to even consider doing it, people stopped idolizing or even respecting catchers.
mayhap: Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Pérez celebrating (hermanos)
What I've been reading

I ran out of Baseball RPF porn to read—it's not a very active fandom, especially if you rule out anything involving the Giants, which I very much do—and started dipping into baseball-themed m/m romance novels. My overall impressions so far: generally decent sex scenes, mediocre romances, nowhere near enough baseball. (I realize that my priorities here are out of sync with the market.)

I read The Windup, which is about two guys who meet through their New York City LGBT recreational baseball league. It was pretty cute and also there was a subplot where the one guy was trying to convince the other guy that NYC is awesome so he will stick around and they don't have to break up, which I enjoyed as a fan of the city. Not very much baseball though, especially since both protagonists are pretty casual players, and also the handling of the emotional beats is pretty clunky.

I read Thrown a Curve, the sequel to The Windup, which features two guys who previously hooked up in that book getting together. Again, kind of clunky, tell-y writing, but also slightly more baseball-y—the one guy is a former Yankees player who had a career-ending injury and came out at the same time, but has yet to come to terms with the fact that he is attracted to more fey dudes.

I read Out in the Field, by the same author as the Rainbow League books, which is closer to what I was looking for because it involves actual pro baseball players, playing for the fictional Brooklyn Eagles. The hotshot rookie hooks up with the veteran star and things get serious between them. Although there is more baseball—including a bunch of postseason baseball, because while you're inventing a baseball team you might as well make them the Mary Sue of baseball teams—nothing too exciting or unusual happens in any of the games.

I read Force Play, which is another book with pro players and a fictional ballclub, although this one is an expansion team in South Carolina scraping along at the bottom of the barrel. (I was amused that the author gave no fucks about having a real team be the one who ditches the protagonist after he accidentally outs himself and whose violent fans later attack them; this is, of course, the Phillies). I liked the relationship in this one best, I think, or at least would theoretically; in practice it's developed a little murkily.

I read The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse. It is really fascinating, with lots of juicy behind-the-scenes stuff for a book covering stuff that's so recent. I really appreciate the Dodgers' seeming devotion to turning their team into a giant clusterfuck, because otherwise all that money they have at their disposal is even scarier.

Although they didn't have or wouldn't offer enough money to re-sign Zack Greinke…it's funny, I was just reading about what a magnificent weirdo he is when the announcement that he'd signed with the Diamondbacks hit, and I thought it sounded like a Zack Greinke move. There are Royals fans who hate him for his rude exit from our team in 2011 but I don't get it. If he doesn't demand a trade and go off to Milwaukee in a huff, we don't have Alcides Escobar or Lorenzo Cain now and we maybe don't have Wade Davis either, and who wants to live in that world?

I read More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture, the book Royals general manager Dayton Moore wrote after the 2014 World Series. It came out way back in May but I didn't get desperate enough to know what goes on in that closely-cropped head of his to read it until the offseason started heating up. It wasn't all that helpful in that respect, but I tried!

Alex Gordon wrote an introduction for the book, incidentally. You better be doing your best to sign him right this minute, Dayton. I'm just saying.

I read The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastimes. It was fascinating, even though the author is very pro-code and I mostly think it's a lot of weird, sour, irrational and violent nonsense. Especially all the stuff where the grievance boils down to "you are playing baseball too well," and especially especially where the correct response to people playing baseball too well is to throw balls at people's heads, I mean, seriously, what the actual fuck is that.

I do kind of love it when players retaliate because they're all protective of their teammates, though. I mean, it's totally wrong and they absolutely shouldn't do it, buuuuuuuuut…I'm kind of into it anyway. It is my vice. Assuming an actual, non-bullshit original grievance that does not consist of "you are playing baseball too well," of course.

Plus there are just a bunch of crazy, interesting stories in here, which I love.

What I'm reading now

Mostly just trade news and rumors, to be honest. Shit is getting real.
mayhap: two hands reaching with text Grip tape is love (grip tape is love)
What I've been reading

I read Slade House, a relatively short horror story that's like a companion to The Bone Clocks. All my favorite things about David Mitchell's books are more effective at a regular length, I think, but it is still nicely creepy.

I read The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman's Snow White/Sleeping Beauty Mashup. I'd read it before, actually, but it is better with the illustrations, which are gorgeous with the gold ink. An ebook is not an adequate substitute.

I read Honor Girl, a graphic memoir about the summer that the author fell in love with one of her camp counselors and the two of them mostly danced awkwardly around their attraction to each other and camp gossip. I didn't love the art as such but I do love the visual storytelling, and it's really great at evoking this very specific time and place.

I read Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks. In spite of the subtitle, I would say it was more suited for mildly serious geeks at best, but then my baseline may be skewed by my own intense geekdom. It is entertainingly written, though, so I'd give it a solid recommendation on that basis.

I read Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game by the president of my alma mater, John Sexton (or, as we used to call him back in the day, JSex). I remember when he started teaching it as a class, especially since he did it through my own particular school, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where you didn't even have to be president of the university to offer a class with an unusual subject like that, and I totally would have tried to register for it sometime just for the novelty of hobnobbing with the university president if the subject had been anything other than baseball. If you had tried to tell me while I was in college that one day I would be deeply interested in baseball I would have laughed in your face.

It probably would have been a fun class, though. It's a pretty good book, even though it was written by a Yankees fan. At least he feels the need to justify his Yankees fandom: he was originally a Dodgers fan, like a good Brooklyn boy, but then after his son was born, he felt that he needed to adopt a team that was actually still located somewhere in the five boroughs. I mean, he clearly made the wrong choice, but as a Catholic he felt drawn to the team with the most history, in spite of the fact that it was the history of being the Yankees. Also the Mets were actually being quite successful at the time while the Yankees were sucking. Still, I don't think these are actually adequate excuses.

June 2017

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