Where have I been, Joe Dimaggio? – You definitely weren’t there.

“Blogging Bad” has nothing to do with the popular TV series, except for hijacking the title for headline effect. And Dimaggio is, of course, just a ripoff metaphor, with baseball imagery, for my recent non-posting.

My motivation for starting to blog was to create a habit of daily writing, re-centering my preferred skill set, countering the klutziness of my ad hoc spoken communications. I had quickly brainstormed at least thirty topics from my super-sized family experiences and my sports coaching victories, defeats, and rants. I realized daily writing was a great idea, but daily posting would become “the daily bore,” so I would only post once a week, and keep the others in the blog pen. However…

I would write a blog, print it, review it, revise it, refine it, up-clever it, think I’d better wait a day to let it settle in before posting, then notice more changes the next day, and the next, and each entry became a week-long, not hour-long, endeavor. Now I’m hoping to return to original intent, writing close to once a day, posting weekly, winging it except for spell-checking.

I’m beginning with a new brainstorm, one of these “I have to do this before I do anything else, I can’t get it out of my brain, it’s blocking my return to the plan” interruptions.

The blocker is a friend’s pre-teen book I recently read, and this post is a mishmash – partly a review; partly a return to childhood experiences and attitudes resulting from reading the book after hearing my softball-player granddaughter’s “lots of surprises” review and receiving my baseball-player nephew’s thank-you note with a sketch of a wide-sweeping curveball; partly a guilty pleasure (see below) based on re-living my pre-teen Musial-Williams days; partly a doubly-guilty pleasure, finding the descriptions in the writing both colorful and insightful – my favorite, from the field: “this fly ball wanted to hit grass before leather”; from the player’s mood:  “It was as if he stood on the east side of a mountain too late in the day, and suffered the chill as the mountaintop quickly fought off the setting sun and summoned the night.”; and partly an appreciation for the book’s life lesson on teamwork, sadly lacking as sandlot sports yesterdays have morphed into today’s Scrooge-McDuck-treasure-vault-making* for owners and players.

* (inline subscript – maybe “inscript” – on the vault): When a player wearing red socks left the local team because he was “dis-respected” by the team’s $5M/year salary offer, I did some quick elementary math – If $50K is considered a decent middling salary, $5M is one hundred years salary for any decent-salaried bloke. (But, who’s to judge – except for the talent differential, that robber-arm might have been mine.) That was then; now its $25M (= five hundred years) and skyrocketing, with the owner/buyer trap: “He ain’t that good, but he’s the best on the market, so we gotta bid high before some rival signs McDuck.”

The review: When Magic Throws a Curveball, by LeVar Ravel and L.L. Keats (alter egos for my friend – http://www.levarravel.com/home) has baseball action, magic, fantasy, and pirates. The protagonist, Max, second-best player on the last place team, wants to salvage some acclaim as stolen base champion (a rare obsession!). The gift of a magic feather from a Dulcinea he meets on the beach has him contending with his nemesis rival and transforming his team into “we could be – we ARE a contender!” stature. The excellent twist of fate – the chariot crashes when Max selfishly extends an inning in pursuit of personal triumph and a rainstorm wipes out the inning, the record, and the championship – is followed by a journey through fantasyland, escorted by a squabbling talking-fox/talking-squirrel team, some off field contests with said animatronics and some friends, a hunt for pirate treasure, and a minefield of teamwork** lessons that Max resists until just in time for the re-start of the championship game. Game Summary: When Magic Throws a Curveball is a pitcher’s sweeping curve ball laser-lined to shortstop (LeVar Ravel), thrown to second (Walt Disney) for the force, thence to first (Aesop) – Triple Play, Ravel to Disney to Aesop!

** (inscript #2 – on teamwork): One local quarterback has a substantial “vault” and annual success, including three championships. A rival quarterback may be the best ever passer and has the largest “vault” to show for it, but only one championship. Team #1 has better-paid support players. Team #2 has less money for support players. Team #2 should read When Magic Throws a Curveball. (But, who’s to judge – except for the talent differential, that vault might have been mine.)

The guilty pleasure: Trending against the life lesson, I was rooting for Max the insufferable selfie to win the base-stealing championship. I would have liked to have salvaged a “best hustler” citation from my seasons on a last-place team, hoping it wouldn’t count against me that I once rounded first base on a wild pitch ball four, aiming for total surprise while sliding safely into second, until I noticed the pitcher standing on the mound, totally surprised, yes, but glaring at me with ball in hand, whereupon my slide was back into first base: Out, mcduck!

Best teamwork ever: The year after I graduated from Little League, my town team made it to regional playoffs and was headed to Williamsburg, but ran into the scrawny kids from Monterrey, Mexico, and lost in extra innings. Monterrey went to Williamsport and beat Connecticut and California to win the Little League World Series, the first international champion. It wasn’t Angels in the Outfield (reference to a 1994 Disney re-make of a 1950’s movie), it was Angel on the Mound – ambidextrous Angel Macias, who pitched a perfect game for the victory. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfect-Game-Clifton-Collins/dp/B004X2TYG2)

Angel threw a curveball, and it was magic!