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Thread: I'm 2/3 done writing the Little Sparks book. Feedback?

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strike Three View Post
    Good idea Viking, putting them at the end of each section. I've only looked at this blog on my phone which puts the commentary in the middle of the story flow. If it was off to the side on a PC that might work too.

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    I appreciate everyone reading part 8 and sharing your comments with me. When I told someone about this project last week, it reminded them of a book about a single bike rice called, "The Rider" by Tim Krabbe. The author describes a lot about bike culture and in/outs of bike racing, but embedded with the story. I will try to get hold of that book and see if I can learn something about how I can embed the educational stuff in the story without long digressions.

    Several people have suggested putting the sidebars at the end of each post which is a possibility . . . what about if I had a link before each one that said,

    "Click to skip explanation and resume the story" which would automatically scroll down just past the explanation to resume the story?

    As for the particular two sidebars in this story - I would appreciate feedback on the content itself. My son has never quit a baseball team, and I have no experience with the whole student/athlete thing so I want to know if my synthesis of all the forum comments in the thread into those two sidebars lost something or somehow became a little inaccurate or otherwise off. The Quit/NotQuit thing was particularly challenging as opinions were all over the map and I tried to represent these opinions with a nod to all of them.

    And BTW - I can tell you for sure that one forum quote coming in either Senior year or first year of college will take care of an entire sidebar for me because Jett already did it for me - the description of a typical day for the student/athlete at a D1 college. It would be awesome if every one of my sidebars were handled by a quote like that . . . but didn't happen.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strike Three View Post
    Good idea Viking, putting them at the end of each section. I've only looked at this blog on my phone which puts the commentary in the middle of the story flow. If it was off to the side on a PC that might work too.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
    What do you think of what I just did to the explanation boxes of the first post as an experiment?

    At the beginning of each explanation box it now says "click to skip explanation box and resume the story" - when you click on it it skips to the first word after the explanation box. Works fine on PC or on phone.

    https://www.filterjoe.com/2017/03/01...the-beginning/

    If my wife and several of you thinks this helps, I'll set up the other posts to do this too.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeG View Post
    What do you think of what I just did to the explanation boxes of the first post as an experiment?

    At the beginning of each explanation box it now says "click to skip explanation box and resume the story" - when you click on it it skips to the first word after the explanation box. Works fine on PC or on phone.

    https://www.filterjoe.com/2017/03/01...the-beginning/

    If my wife and several of you thinks this helps, I'll set up the other posts to do this too.
    I will be so bold as to say I really don't know what the best solution is. I think the sidebars help, and was just trying more or less to brainstorm for you. Really, part of the problem is that I have some need to read everything in order, and the click to skip things will not change that. In the end, I can't think of any perfect solution, and believe what you have done already is very good.

    For feedback with respect to eh quit/notquit thing, I personally liked it, but I haven't read that part in a couple of years. I am working my way through sparks' thread again now (and man... it drags in the junior/senior year... why I love your blogs on it), and will give feedback if I need any is warranted.

  4. #44
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    Fyi I'm reading on my phone so I'm not sure how it looks on the web page as far as the grey box being on the side (if that's how it looks). The click to pass the grey box is slick and an improvement. I'm torn between leaving it like that or having the story sit all together and then having discussion after the entire story as does the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I think I still lean toward the latter because that's how I want the reader to experience the story.

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    Never played baseball, just a dad of someone that loves to play. So take any advice I post with a grain of salt.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking0 View Post
    I am working my way through sparks' thread again now (and man... it drags in the junior/senior year... why I love your blogs on it), and will give feedback if I need any is warranted.
    Viking - very glad to hear. One of my main goals was to make this great story accessible to people who don't have the stamina to wade through 1900 posts. There are parts in the first year where it drags (namely the umpteenth opinion on radar guns) and then starting near end of sophomore year and for the next few years there are some really long sidetrack discussions that make it hard to follow the story if you skim them too quickly.

    Amusing aside on how I did avoid one sidebar - I summed up about 10,000 words of radar gun discussion with one sentence:

    While use of radar guns before high school age is controversial, Wayne noticed that the gun inspired Leo to improve his mechanics.
    However, I don't think there's any way to sum up in a sentence or two what a high school student needs to do (especially junior year) to continue playing baseball in college.

    Thanks Viking0, pthawaii, and Strike Three for the constructive feedback. I will continue to research/experiment on the best way to handle the explanatory notes. I'll examine other sites over the next few days to see how they handle it, and try to get hold of that bicycle book where the author manages to explain a lot as part of the story.

  6. #46
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    I just got around to reading the whole blog series, Joe, and I think it's awesome. I really agree with and appreciate your overall impetus for doing this. I only managed to stumble over to BB101 a few years ago, so I was late to the Sparksdale party. I've tried on a few occasions to make it through the thread, but I often find that I get bogged down in all of the side discussions. Certainly, I find the power of Sparks's own words to be moving, and I really appreciate the sage advice of some of the responders like Jett, Mud, Ursa, etc. However, your goal of making the story much more readable and accessible is spot on. I really appreciated your doing so. And I think the gray boxes work perfectly. Having spent a few years here at BB101, I pretty much know most of the stuff you explain in the gray boxes, so I simply skipped over them and continued with the story. I found that very easy to do and very user friendly. Overall, kudos on your good work, and I can't wait to see what's next. (Incidentally, I have also found myself clicking around on some of your other posts, and I love what you're doing on your blog--the Arms Race post in particular is very insightful).

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrub View Post
    I just got around to reading the whole blog series, Joe, and I think it's awesome. I really agree with and appreciate your overall impetus for doing this. I only managed to stumble over to BB101 a few years ago, so I was late to the Sparksdale party. I've tried on a few occasions to make it through the thread, but I often find that I get bogged down in all of the side discussions. Certainly, I find the power of Sparks's own words to be moving, and I really appreciate the sage advice of some of the responders like Jett, Mud, Ursa, etc. However, your goal of making the story much more readable and accessible is spot on. I really appreciated your doing so. And I think the gray boxes work perfectly. Having spent a few years here at BB101, I pretty much know most of the stuff you explain in the gray boxes, so I simply skipped over them and continued with the story. I found that very easy to do and very user friendly. Overall, kudos on your good work, and I can't wait to see what's next. (Incidentally, I have also found myself clicking around on some of your other posts, and I love what you're doing on your blog--the Arms Race post in particular is very insightful).
    I appreciate the comments and compliments, Scrub. In particular, it's good that someone who hasn't been part of the process (i.e. my wife, Viking0, pthawaii, and Strike Three) just read it from start to finish and experienced my current treatment of the "explanation box" with fresh eyes - glad to hear it worked for you. Getting those explanation boxes to be helpful but without distracting from the story has been a challenge, to say the least.

    You went back pretty far to find that arms race post - that was the second baseball post on the site!

    For anyone interested in looking at just the youth baseball stuff on my blog, and none of the other stuff, here's the baseball category link:

    https://www.filterjoe.com/category/baseball/

    I think I'm most fond of the one on how to develop youth pitchers, perhaps because my lefty son's future in baseball (if any), is clearly pitching:

    https://www.filterjoe.com/2015/07/16...nced-approach/
    Last edited by JoeG; 05-12-2017 at 09:48 AM.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by pthawaii View Post
    Fyi I'm reading on my phone so I'm not sure how it looks on the web page as far as the grey box being on the side (if that's how it looks). The click to pass the grey box is slick and an improvement. I'm torn between leaving it like that or having the story sit all together and then having discussion after the entire story as does the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I think I still lean toward the latter because that's how I want the reader to experience the story.

    Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk
    Part 9 is out:

    Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (HS Senior): A New Hope


    Was easier to write than prior two years. The better the original forum material tells the story and educates the audience, the less work there is for me.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeG View Post
    Part 9 is out:

    Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (HS Senior): A New Hope


    Was easier to write than prior two years. The better the original forum material tells the story and educates the audience, the less work there is for me.
    For those trying to keep up with my "Little Sparks" story rewrite . . .

    Part 9 is the first part that draws material from beyond the forum thread. Leo's head coach senior year is well known enough to have many articles and interviews in papers. I thought he was a pretty interesting character so I incorporated some of this information as I described him.

    Sparksdale's comments about him were almost all perfectly accurate, with one very minor exception (he said a few times that the head coach had two sons in the majors but one time he accidentally wrote 3 - probably meant to write 3 sons in majors or minors which would have been true).

    But there were a few cool additional tidbits I threw in, such as the time he bought over $5000 worth of batting cage equipment for the back yard instead of putting in a down-payment on getting a regular house to replace their trailer home.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeG View Post
    For those trying to keep up with my "Little Sparks" story rewrite . . .

    Part 9 is the first part that draws material from beyond the forum thread. Leo's head coach senior year is well known enough to have many articles and interviews in papers. I thought he was a pretty interesting character so I incorporated some of this information as I described him.

    Sparksdale's comments about him were almost all perfectly accurate, with one very minor exception (he said a few times that the head coach had two sons in the majors but one time he accidentally wrote 3 - probably meant to write 3 sons in majors or minors which would have been true).

    But there were a few cool additional tidbits I threw in, such as the time he bought over $5000 worth of batting cage equipment for the back yard instead of putting in a down-payment on getting a regular house to replace their trailer home.
    There haven't been any comments about part 9 from anyone here, but as I started doing research for part 10 I am realizing that I didn't understand the subtle difference between an "invited walk-on" and a walk-on who was not invited. So there were some things I said at the end of part 9 that were flat-out wrong because of my misunderstanding.

    Leo was an invited walk-on. That meant that he did not have to try out for the team and that furthermore the coach is more likely to pay attention to him than an uninvited walk-on.

    I have revised all walk-on-related text at the end of part 9 to reflect my better understanding. Any comments from anyone here about whether I got it right this second time around, with regard to walk-ons?

    Here are two links that I found to help me better understand the finer distinctions between types of walk-ons:

    http://diycollegerankings.com/what-i...e-sports/7081/

    http://www.hsbaseballweb.com/invited_walk_ons.htm

  11. #51
    An invited walk on is one that the coach expressed an interest before committing to the school. A regular walk on is a player who shows up on campus and the walk on tryout without the coach pursuing him to come to the school.

    How important is an invited walk on is subject to interpretation. At a D1 what does being invited to walk on mean if fifteen were invited and there's one roster spot available? At a JuCo they don't have roster limitations. But who wants to be player #40 on a roster? Typically only 25 travel. Typically only 18-20 players play enough to impact a season.

    The whole walk on process is a can't lose situation for the team/coach. What it means to the player depends on the quality of the program and their recruiting.
    Last edited by JettSixty; 05-19-2017 at 12:35 PM.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeG View Post
    There haven't been any comments about part 9 from anyone here, but as I started doing research for part 10 I am realizing that I didn't understand the subtle difference between an "invited walk-on" and a walk-on who was not invited. So there were some things I said at the end of part 9 that were flat-out wrong because of my misunderstanding.

    Leo was an invited walk-on. That meant that he did not have to try out for the team and that furthermore the coach is more likely to pay attention to him than an uninvited walk-on.

    I have revised all walk-on-related text at the end of part 9 to reflect my better understanding. Any comments from anyone here about whether I got it right this second time around, with regard to walk-ons?

    Here are two links that I found to help me better understand the finer distinctions between types of walk-ons:

    http://diycollegerankings.com/what-i...e-sports/7081/

    http://www.hsbaseballweb.com/invited_walk_ons.htm
    Hey Joe I've been working like a dog and crashing at night. I'll get to it this weekend.

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  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strike Three View Post
    Hey Joe I've been working like a dog and crashing at night. I'll get to it this weekend.

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    No worries. I appreciate your trying to read when you can. Seems like I somehow seem to busier weekends than weekdays thanks to baseball . . .

  14. #54
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    Read it, love it. I know nothing about walk ons and college and all that so I'm no help there.

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  15. #55
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    When I read this part, Joe, I noticed that the gray boxes have disappeared. I assume there must be some informational research related to this portion that could be gray-boxed. I.e., just so there's a sense of consistency between all parts (as the other parts had one or more gray boxes per part). But otherwise, great stuff!

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrub View Post
    When I read this part, Joe, I noticed that the gray boxes have disappeared. I assume there must be some informational research related to this portion that could be gray-boxed. I.e., just so there's a sense of consistency between all parts (as the other parts had one or more gray boxes per part). But otherwise, great stuff!
    I appreciate the feedback Scrub (and Strike Three).

    The grey boxes are for when an explanation gets too long to be incorporated gracefully into the story. When the educational tidbits are small enough (or I'm a good enough writer), they naturally flow with the story without distracting, so a separate box isn't needed. Part 2 also didn't have a gray box.

    The two topics I considered making into a gray box for this post were:

    * What makes some HS coaches much better than others?

    * Walk-ons

    The walk-on explanations ended up brief enough to easily flow with the story.

    The HS coach thing was a tougher one. I did have a few hints incorporated into the story such as the big focus on physical conditioning in the pre-season and the tough no-nonsense attitude. But there wasn't much detail in the story from Sparksdale or the commentators on all the little things a great coach does at the high school level. I have zero experience with HS baseball so I was reluctant to generalize from my 12 and under knowledge. I would guess that some things are true at any age such as having a highly organized practice plan before each practice (and bringing that same level of organization to everything else you do), holding kids to a high standard and not be satisfied with less, etc. But there are undoubtedly other things that I don't know about and maybe they're more important. I won't know until my son gets to HS and even then I may not know because he'll probably only experience one HS coach.

    Also - opinions vary on what makes a great coach. While the coach in the story is a very tough coach and gets results with that, that's not the ideal coach advocated by the PCA (positive coaching alliance) organization. The HS coach described in the book, "One Shot at Forever" breaks at least a few stereotypes of what makes for a great HS coach and yet he led one of the tiniest schools in the state with a very small roster (12 players, I think?) to the state championship.

    With HS coach quality being so far outside of my own knowledge and not so easy to research (seems like every article on what it takes to be good HS coach has an axe to grind), I decided instead to just talk around it by describing the HS coach, his fanatic devotion to the game of baseball, and building the case that he truly was a great coach and not just a statistical fluke.

    On a separate but related note, I recently bought and read the book, The Rider by Tim Krabbe, in order to get better at incorporating educational details into a story. The story is a first-person narrative of Tim's 309th bike race, but also has many flashbacks to other races or training. Without any explanation boxes, you learn quite a bit about how bike racing works when you read that book, all incorporated into a particularly exciting and entertaining bike race. It was surprisingly useful. Turns out bike racing and baseball games have much in common from a storytelling point of view . . . both sports are made of periods of boredom punctuated by spectacular and memorable moments. (For someone who was starting from zero knowledge of bike racing, though - I thought that at least one explanation box was needed: gearing. He referred to the number of teeth in the ring of the gears being used many times without ever describing how the higher the ratio, the harder it is to pedal and the faster you go. The reader is already expected to know this.)

    Gave me an idea for how I could do a similar book that is loosely based on a single 8 year old baseball game that my son played 4 years ago - a championship game between the two best teams out of an 8 team Pinto division of our PONY league. It was a very exciting game, which I could make more exciting by having many flashbacks to game that happen earlier in the season or even in prior years.

    Exciting as I found that time as a parent, not sure if there's much of a market for such a book, though.
    Last edited by JoeG; 05-22-2017 at 09:45 AM.

  17. #57
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    The book you're describing sounds like a youth version of my very favorite baseball book of all time: Dan Okrent's 9 Innings. The premise for the book is that he randomly chooses a baseball game to attend (I believe it was a 1982 match-up between the Brewers and Orioles--it's been a while since I read it). Each inning is a chapter in which he describes in all its minute detail what is happening on every single pitch. But he interweaves throughout the narrative of the game itself all of the back-story anecdotes about how each player was acquired (i.e., there's a big section on how Ted Simmons got to the Brewers, for instance), the history of the franchises, the role of different strategies, etc. It's basically an autopsy of a baseball game with rich historical flashbacks. You should check out Okrent's book--sounds like you're interested in doing a youth version of it. And, for my money, I'd say there's a market for that kind of thing for sure.

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