Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yankees Clinch Playoffs--to the Shock of May's Sportscasters

And Why That Matters to Writers

I would like an honest show of hands. In May, how many of you believed that the Yankees would make the playoffs?

I was engrossed in writing Out of the Shadows at the time, and I tried not to think about it. I did, however, notice one thing—which I often screamed at the ESPN reporters who continued to trash both the players and Joe Torre. All right, I noticed two things. First, not many Yankees (sans Jeter and Posada) were playing to their potential. (Remember the sub-300 batting averages?) Second, all of the Yankees’ starting pitchers came from AA ball. Come on sports analysts! Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming! A team with high potential that’s not being reached and sick pitchers? Did you honestly think the Yanks would stay down that long? Or were you just wanting to stick it to them because you were sick of their success?

Still, 14 ½ game deficits are hard to make up.

So what’s the lesson here? Obviously, not giving up. Grinding it out, as many pitchers might say. Those words are easy to speak, but how often do we really believe them during some of our most difficult times?

Writing is a tough business. Traveling, speaking, not much money available for advertising, hearing that people love A Prophecy Forgotten but feeling frustrated that most of the world doesn’t even know the book exists… Many times, I’ll do a bunch of self-promotion but never really see it working. As a novelist with a goal of becoming an international best seller with a movie deal, those things wear me down. (Presumed fruitless labor rarely encourages anyone.) Often, I feel like just giving up on the dream and getting a day job.

I try to remind myself of all the lessons found in baseball. No one is supposed to be able to come back from a 3-0 game deficit in the ALCS (yes, ’04 was painful), no one was supposed to beat Lou Gehrig’s playing streak, no one could ever beat Babe Ruth’s lifetime home run record, and in May, the Yankees were never going to make the playoffs.

So here’s to you ’04 Red Sox, Cal Ripken, Hank Aaron (Barry who?), and ’07 Yankees. I’m still in the ring, my towel will not be thrown, and I will refuse to stay down. Out of the Shadows and Book III of the Elysian Chronicles are for you because as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”

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