Writing the Book (20 Oct 08)

SmittyLife happened this week; the book, not so much. I did make up some ground over the weekend — put in about 10 hours on Saturday and another 4-5 on Sunday. It’s not as much as I’d have liked, but it’s better than nothing.

In addition to the actual writing, I’m playing a lot with design elements. People have been telling me for years that I suck at design, so I’m trying to make that less true. I’ve been studying fonts and settled on a couple that should be a huge improvement over the uninspired Arial/Times New Roman combination that I employed in the first two books. (For those who care about such things, I’m going with Gill Sans MT/Palatino Linotype.)

I’ve also gotten my first look at some cover ideas. We’re still in the early development stages, but I’m digging the concept in a big way.

As for content, a first draft of the Player Dashboards chapter is about two-thirds complete. I’ve finished the main position players and I’m about halfway through the pitchers. Then I have to slap a little something together for guys who played smaller roles, e.g., Justin Germano, Paul McAnulty.

The chapter figures to run about 55-60 pages. I’m hoping to finish it later this week.

I also started — in a very loose sense — working on the Farm Report chapter. Mainly I identified which players in the system might be worthy of discussion. I’ve come up with 113 names, which strikes me as a bit excessive; I think I did 75-80 last year.

The big question is whether to include only the “prospects” or go deeper. I just don’t know how much value it adds to have a blurb on Sam Carter that says something like, “Decent power, prone to strikeouts, old for his league, not a member of SG-1.”

Finally, I’ve decided on a charity for this year’s book. A portion of the proceeds will go to FOCAS, which is the organizaton through which we adopted our Boston Terrier, Smitty. And unless Oprah suddenly decides that everyone needs to read the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual and makes me rich beyond my wildest dreams, “a portion” really means “all.”

There it is. Rock on…

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11 Responses »

  1. Good to hear and anytime you can sneak in a SG-1 reference makes it all the better.

  2. I think Palatino is a good call. It’s a nice font. That’s really cool you are going to donate to a doggie charity! You don’t have to own a dog, but if someone doesn’t love dogs, it makes me wonder about their character. And, naturally, cat people are highly suspect. :-)

  3. Here is a link to Chris Dial’s Offense + Defense rankings for 2008. For some reason ZR does not like Adrian (BP’s fielding metrics don’t either). Perhaps his range is not all that good, but he has such good hands and a great arm… I wonder if the defensive metrics are giving him a fair shake.

    He still comes out among the top NL 1B, but not a whole lot better than Joey Votto and way behind Mark Teixeira, who played only 103 games in the NL (his AL time is not counted in the NL rankings).

  4. Go, GY, Go!!!

    Lookin’ forward to the 2009 book already … if there’s anything I can do to pique Oprah’s interest, let me know. ;-)

    I vote “no” on Sam Carter-like entries … I can/will get my blurbs about guys like that from MadFriars … I trust your sense of “value” … if what you have to say about player doesn’t strike you as valuable, it doesn’t seem likely to be otherwise for most of your readers … and I’d *much* prefer you put your valuable time/effort into the parts of the book that you know are valuable.

  5. And one followup … I like the MF policy of “If I haven’t seen him play, then I won’t rank him” …

    GY – you’ve seen *a lot* of the Padres’ farm players … so that seems like perhaps a decent filter for you … with perhaps a separate section for those prospects which you haven’t seen … or perhaps have a guest writer (or 2 or 3 or …) for those players?

  6. #2@Pat: It came down to Palatino or Garamond. Both are worthy fonts, but I like Palatino’s spacing a little better.

    And yeah, dogs rule. 8)

    #4@LynchMob: Thanks for the input. That’s kind of the way I’m leaning. Were there too many entries last year? One possibility would be to cap it at 50 or so.

    Anyone else have an opinion?

  7. Fonts: My boss has directed me to use only the most common fonts, so its TNR and Arial for everyone! I understand wanting to make things simple for the end users, but after nearly a decade of working on this particular doc library, I’d kill to add something zesty.

    Minor league recaps: Gotta disagree with LM here. Even the MadFriars guys don’t get to see many minor leaguers enough for their in-person judgments to be all that informed – which is no slight, if you’re not a scout getting paid to do it, who can spend that much time at a ballpark? Making “seen with my own eyes” a requirement compromises the analysis that GY specializes in, IMO. Numeric limits sounds like a great idea, if only to keep your sanity. Top 20 hitters, Top 20 pitchers? Top 30 prospects total?

    10 hours of writing on a Saturday. So, when did the doctors bond your wrist and finger tendons with adamantium?

  8. re: Fonts, check out the movie Helvetica for a passionate look at a font by many of its fans.

    re: Prospects, I vote for limited numbers of them. With international signings being a big deal this past season, maybe a blurb about that would be nice.

  9. Times New Roman forever!

    I would make each page into two columns — like you would see in a newspaper or the old Bill James abstracts. Most people don’t like to read all the way across a page.

  10. #7@Tom Waits: TNR and Arial definitely have their place, but I’m ready for a change. As for 10 hours of writing, I just worked a split shift: 5 a.m. to noon, then 6 to 9 p.m. or so. I also do as much as possible by longhand.

    #8@Didi: What I’m hearing from you and others is that I need to find a workable cutoff point; I’ll get started on that. I definitely need to get something in there about the international signings seeing as how that was one of the biggest news items of the year.

    #9@Kevin: Two columns is a nice thought, but it’s a royal pain to implement and it’s not going to happen…

  11. #9@Kevin:

    #10@Geoff Young:

    GY, you KNOW that FrameMaker is the answer. 2 column layout? Give me 2 minutes. Resistance is futile.