Tag Archives: baseball

ON DUSTIN RICHARDSON’S SUSPENSION…AND HIS MOM’S HEARTACHE

I want to send a copy of TRADING MANNY to Dustin Richardson, the 26-year old relief pitcher who just became the latest ballplayer to get tagged with a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug agreement.

It was reported by the New York Times in this story that Richardson’s had an astounding cocktail of banned substances in his system that included some five different steroids. Richardson was no big-league star; he knocked around for a couple of years with the Red Sox during the ’09 and ’10 seasons before returning to the minors last year. When his drug test came back at the end of last season, he was found to have been stacking drugs like one of those champion cup-stackers, a dizzying amount of chemicals.

I was especially struck in the story about the comments from his mother, reached at her Kansas home, who said, “Dustin realized it was the biggest mistake of his life.” And she hoped someone would give him another chance.

I want to send him a copy of MANNY — and her, too — not as a nyah-nyah-we-caught-you exercise. There’s plenty of that going around without me adding to the noise. But I truly believe that ballplayers like Richardson have somehow forgotten the spirit that got them into baseball in the first place as kids, and the childlike wonder that still makes kids fall in love with the game and its players. TRADING MANNY is kind of a reminder that it’s okay to play clean and resist the pressures to do something so dangerous to yourself in order to try to get ahead. In baseball or any other walk of life.

I hope for Dustin Richardson’s sake — and the sake of his mom — that he can come back to the game and his life without needing drugs.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: WHAT ARE THE FIRST WORDS TO “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME?”

You’re gonna win a lot of radio trivia call-in contests with this one. Ask the host/dj/shockjock what the first words to the popular song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are. And then nail him with this:

“Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev’ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
“No, I’ll tell you what you can do.”

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”

From Jack Noworth, 1908, via baseball-almanac.com

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GETTING MANNY PUBLISHED: A CHRONOLOGY

Thought it might be fun and somewhat instructive (for anyone visited with that crazy, fleeting idea, “I think I’ll write a book and make a bunch of money!”) to show the chronology of getting TM written and published.  Bottom line of all this is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

December 2007: The Mitchell Report comes out and Joe begins to segregate his baseball cards: Clean players vs. the cheaters.  Jim writes an article about it that is published on CBSNews.com, and realizes he might have a book idea brewing.

January 2008: Had my agent at the time send out preliminary pitches for a book about how much the erupting steroids scandal affected a little kid and his baseball-loving father.  Rejections follow from everyone, including the agent.  Joe continues to bring up baseball and steroids at odd times, including on a ski trip to Calgary.

March – April 2008: Jim and Joe talk about baseball on a cruise to Hawaii, attend spring training in Arizona and Opening Day at Safeco Field, and see that baseball does nothing to address the steroids scandal.

May 2008: TM is accepted as a client by Seattle literary agent Elizabeth Wales, who asks for more pages before she can submit to publishers.

April – October 2008:  The 2008 baseball season ensues, with more scandals and more questions from Joe, but no answers forthcoming from baseball.  Jim begins to write drafts and more proposals of the book.  We take a road trip down the west coast to see games in Oakland, LA and Anaheim (with Manny now playing for the Dodgers), move from Bainbridge Island to McMinnville and try to reach players and the commissioner’s office.  Jim returns to Safeco Field in September and ambushes the late broadcaster Dave Niehaus for an interesting talk about ‘roids, and interviews former all-star pitcher Jeff Nelson. 

Winter 2008-’09: Jim continues to write and rewrite drafts of the book in progress, not really sure what the ending will be.  The steroids issue is still prominent with Joe.  Alex Rodriguez admits in January that he had taken juice during his years with the Texas Rangers.

April 2009: Jim and Joe appear on NPR’s All Things Considered, talking about their reluctance to embrace baseball during the scandal.  Jim’s article, “The House That Juice Built,” appears in Seattle Metropolitan magazine.  The 2009 baseball season begins.

April – June, 2009: Jim and Joe make trips to Idaho to visit the town where Walter Johnson started his career, and to Seattle to interview a steroids doctor and the late-Taylor Hooton’s brother Don Hooton.

June 2009: Agent makes the first formal pitches of the book-in-progress to some 25 publishers. 

July 2009: Boston-based editor calls to ask Jim for more info on the book and wonders where it’s going; declines to make offer.

August – Sept. 2009: Book gets endorsements from author/player Dirk Hayhurst and former AP sportswriter Steve Wilstein.  Manuscript rejected by all publishers.

September, 2009: Jim and Joe make trips to Seattle, Boston, New York and Jackie Robinson’s grave in Brooklyn to complete research for the book.

October 23, 2009: Manuscript is fully written and completed for the first time.  Agent begins new round of submissions.  All are rejected.

December, 2009: Ms. gets endorsement from Doug Glanville, former player, author and ESPN personality.

January 2010: Mark McGwire reveals past steroid use; after lull in submissions, agent promises to send Manny out to fresh round of 20 publishers.

January – Feb., 2010: DaCapo Press asks to read manuscript based on query received from agency. A month later, they ask for a phone conversation with Jim.

March, 2010: DaCapo says they’d like to see a new beginning to the book before they commit to publish.

March 25, 2010: New pages written and sent to DaCapo.

May 18, 2010: DaCapo offers to publish the book and deal is struck.

June – September, 2010: Jim rewrites book from start and resubmits to publisher.

Jan. – March, 2011: Editor returns comments and suggestions; Jim rewrites again, scraps opening pages again and finally hits on chronological way of telling the story from start to finish.

April 2011: Final version accepted and turned over to production.

Summer 2011: Copyediting done, afterword written, map of Joe’s journey in the book commissioned and accepted .

Fall 2011: Cover and type design completed, promotion begins with new Trading Manny Facebook page, ramping up of this blog and revision of www.jim-gullo.com.  More endorsements sought.

October 2011: Publisher’s lawyer weighs in with about 20 queries about the manuscript, requesting word changes and some minor deletions, and asks, “Are any of the ballplayers you write about particularly litigious?”  Over the course of an hour and a half on the phone, we hash out changes that everyone can live with.  This is the final hurdle to the manuscript advancing to final galleys.

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MANNY GETS A SUBTITLE

Joe's glove, signed by athletes, coaches and baseball fans on his TRADING MANNY journey

No, not that Manny. I’m referring to my book TRADING MANNY, which will be published in March 2012 and which I’ll be writing about a lot here. The subtitle is a tricky thing, and we’ve been kicking around different versions with the publisher for several months now. It orignally started as “Re-Discovering Baseball with My Son Joe in a Season of Steroids & Scoundrels.”
Well, that was rather a mouthful, and would have taken up the whole cover.
Then I tried, “Teaching Joe That Baseball Matters in a Season of Steroids & Scoundrels.”
Not bad, but anyone browsing in a bookstore wouldn’t have known who Joe was, would have to work a little bit to realize that it’s a baseball book, and wouldn’t grasp the essence of the father/son journey of the book.
So the publisher came back with “A Story of Fathers, Sons and Reclaiming the Game.” Which I didn’t like. It never said baseball, never said Journey, and when I hear the word “reclaiming” I think of engineers reclaiming something out of soil. Too technical, a little harsh.
So I came back with “A Father & Son’s Journey to Take Back Baseball.”
Not bad, it almost flew, but we really didn’t “take back” baseball.
So this week the publisher came back with this:
TRADING MANNY: How a Father and Son Learned to Love Baseball Again.
I think we’ve got a subtitle.

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SHOULD WE TEACH OUR KIDS TO LOVE THIS GAME?

Joe hitting
Joe, 7, about to go deep

Meet Joe, holding yet another stick that he will pretend is yet another baseball bat, as he swats another lame (and imaginary) fastball out of another (equally imaginary) park.  He may be skinny, but the kid’s got game!

Two years ago, Joe fell in love with baseball completely, passionately and truly.  Which I thought was great.  I’ve loved baseball since I was seven years old, and I grew up following everyone from Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt to Reg-gie, Gar-vey, Fernand-doh and all the rest of them.  I LOVED it that Joe loved baseball.
And then the Mitchell Report came out, just about two years ago now, and Joe began asking questions that I couldn’t answer.  And in fact, no father in the history of baseball has had to answer.  “Isn’t it cheating to take steroids?”  “Why did Bonds (and all the rest of them…McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Manny) take steroids when they were already so good?”  “Aren’t they going to be punished?”
So for the last two years, Joe and I have been exploring the game and talking to people about steroids and baseball.  And always, in the back of my mind, lingers the question, “Is baseball worth it?” 
Should I encourage my kid to love this game as I did, or should I gently turn his attention towards…I don’t know…golf, manga, Rachael Ray?
What do you think, Dads (and Moms)?  How do you feel about the state of baseball right now?
Come along with me and Joe on this journey.

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