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

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  • #46
    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).

    Comment


    • #47
      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, 09:48 AM.

      Comment


      • #48
        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.

        Comment


        • #49
          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.

          Comment


          • #50
            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

            Comment


            • #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, 12:35 PM.

              Comment


              • #52
                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.

                Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
                If you let baseball kick your ass, it will

                Comment


                • #53
                  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.

                  Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
                  No worries. I appreciate your trying to read when you can. Seems like I somehow seem to busier weekends than weekdays thanks to baseball . . .

                  Comment


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

                    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
                    If you let baseball kick your ass, it will

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      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!

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        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, 09:45 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Strike Three View Post
                            Read it, love it. I know nothing about walk ons and college and all that so I'm no help there.

                            Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
                            Part 10 is up:

                            Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (College Walk-on)

                            Just like part 9, the heavy lifting for this part was done by Sparksdale and several participants on the thread.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              What it takes to be a good high school coach varies. My son's high school coach was a great administrator, organizer and brought pride and discipline to the program? He was a very mediocre in game coach. But everything he provided turning a losing program into a winner. Some other coaches are great in game coaches and chaos reigns on the organization side.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by JoeG View Post
                                Part 10 is up:

                                Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (College Walk-on)

                                Just like part 9, the heavy lifting for this part was done by Sparksdale and several participants on the thread.
                                Part 11 will be out early next week. It will be the last part, putting two years in one post, and bringing the story up to date. In the last couple years, there have been fewer posts and less detail, so there's not really enough material for two separate posts.

                                Comment

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