The idiot’s guide to writing a baseball book

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So I’ve given some very mild thought lately to writing a baseball book. This is 1.5% inspired by the notion that I may have something interesting to say about baseball that will hold up for more than 500 words and 98.5% inspired by the realization that the half dozen memoirs and detective novels I’ve started and not gotten past page 50 are never, ever going to be published.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what sort of topic to cover. I wish I had seen this post from Luke Epplin at the Daily Beast called “The Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Baseball Book” before I wasted all that time, though. Because I think he may be on to something:

Never fear, there’s still a surefire path for securing a book deal. Simply pick a year—any year, really—and make a case for why that baseball season stands out from all others. Follow one of the templates below and you’ll ink a deal in no time.

You basically declare your year the best ever, link it with any number of social changes going on, gloop on the nostalgia and, voila, you got yourself a book.

Which, even though Epplin couches it somewhat cynically, ain’t a bad recipe to be honest. Cait Murphy’s “Crazy ’08” was a fantastic book. So too was Dan Epstein’s “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” about the 1970s.  I suppose there would be diminishing returns if people started to write about truly boring years in an effort to make them seem important — 1992 was a fine year, but really, not much awesome happened — or if people went over beaten-to-death years from the so-called Golden Era. But think about how much you know about, say, the 1914 season. If someone did a mashup of that and, I dunno, Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” I’d be all over it like white on rice.

Anyway, I’m not going to write a book like that. Takes too much research and I have the attention span and attention-to-detail of a gnat. But Epplin does have a point about the template. There are actually a handful of baseball book templates, I’ve found, that tend to get published, covering a great number of baseball books we all read and enjoy. The year thing happens to just be one of ’em.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.