November 2010

Book update No. 26 — final cover

Big news!!

My editor just sent me an image of the front and back cover of the book, and she said I can share it on my blog. So here you go:
Pretty spiffy, eh?
Here’s a closer look at the front…
…and here’s a closer look at the back:
BTW, see that little photo of me with the pyramid of baseballs? Click here to see how it was constructed.

Gustavo Watch, Part 28

jinxed_with_the_astros.jpgWorld Series over?

Thanksgiving right around the corner?

Doesn’t matter.
The Hample Jinx cannot be stopped.
You remember our old “friend” Gustavo Chacin, right? It’s been three months since my last update about him, so in case you’ve forgotten or are new to this blog, he stole a ball from me on 8/1/06 at Yankee Stadium and has been paying for it ever since. The latest news is that the Astros outrighted him today, which is basically a formal way of saying, “You stink and we don’t want you anymore so GTFO.” Here’s a screen shot of the article about it on
The article is much longer than that. This is just the first few paragraphs. But anyway, if Gustavo is lucky enough to get signed by some other team in 2011, he better improve upon the 4.70 ERA that he ended up with in 2010.
That’s all.
Happy holidays, everyone.
(Well, almost everyone.)

Book update No. 25 — Hello, Amazon!

Very exciting news: The Baseball is now listed on Amazon. Check out the following screen shot from my author page:

As you can see, there’s not an image of the of the cover yet, but still, this is a huge step that makes the book seem REAL for the first time. If you click the title link (under the non-image), this is what you’ll see:
Last I heard, The Baseball was due to be released on March 1st, but whatever. I can wait an extra week. Meanwhile, I can hardly believe that the book is listed as 368 pages! There was a time in my life (not too long ago, in fact) when I struggled just to read a book that long. And now I’ve written one. Yeah, there are going to be lots of large photos that take up lots of space, but still…go me.

Book update No. 24 — first pass

I’ve been working for a solid week on the “first pass” of my manuscript. Basically, what that means is…the book was finally type-set. All the fonts and headings have been laid out, and all the artwork (more than 100 photos!) has been placed. Even though the book is still just a stack of papers at this point, it’s finally looking like a book for the very first time.

Look how thick the stack is:
(That’s 356 pages.)
In the photo above, you may have noticed a memo on top of the stack. Here’s a closer look at it:
Of course I had questions. (I always have questions. When I was a kid, I used to get made fun of for asking too many questions.) I emailed my editor’s assistant and asked the following:
1) What exactly should I be looking for?
2) To what extent can I make changes?
3) How exactly should I note the changes?
This was her response:

Hi Zack,


At this point, you’re giving it another read to see how the design and text are working together. You can make small changes to the text if you think it’s necessary (like the stats you mentioned in previous emails), and if there’s a particular piece of art that you don’t think is working the way it’s been laid out, you can note that and we can discuss with design. Go ahead and write any changes in the margins with colored pencil. If you want to mark them with Post-It notes or tabs to make sure we know where they are, you are welcome to, but it’s not necessary.


Jenny might have more to add, but hopefully that’s enough to get you started!




Jenny (aka “Jennifer”) is my editor. She was also my editor for Watching Baseball Smarter, but anyway, Andrea had indeed given me enough info to plunge into The Baseball. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last week. I basically read the whole book very slowly, word by word, line by line, and looked for every little thing that needed to be adjusted. Take my bio, for example. Even that page needs a couple of tweaks: 

I’ll show you one more page for now — a page that’s absolutely perfect — to give you an idea of what the inside of the book will look like. The page is from a chapter called “The Evolution of the Ball,” a gigantic timeline that begins in the 1840s and goes all the way up to the present. It covers all the different manufacturing techniques and examines how that affected the sport. I realize that might sound stuffy, but trust me, it’s a lot of fun — lots of scandals and controversies and juiced ball theories and wacky scientific experiments and hilarious quotes. Check it out…
Right now, I’m getting ready to head over to Random House with the manuscri
pt. I’m going to discuss some of the changes with the folks there, and in a few weeks, “second pass” will be coming my way…

Yesterday at my place

Remember when I was filmed for a documentary back in June? Well, the filmmakers dropped by my place yesterday for a follow-up interview about my rubber band ball. Here’s a photo I took while their camera was pointed at me:
(The ball now weighs 228 pounds.)
Later that evening, my writing group met at my apartment, and by the end of the night, there were 21 of us. Every meeting begins with a solid hour of quiet writing. I don’t give any assignments or prompts or writing exercises. It’s just a chunk of time for everyone to use however they want. Here’s a photo that I took during the hour:
That’s pretty much it. Just wanted to share some of the stuff that I’ve been up to lately.

Per-game average

Check out the home page of

That’s right. I broke the single-season balls-per-game record. (I actually didn’t know that I’d broken the record until Alan Schuster, the creator of, told me several days ago.)
Here’s the article about it:
Here’s a link to the article itself, and here’s my profile on
By the way, the photo of me that Alan chose for this article was taken on 6/30/10 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Here’s the complete photo. I was excited because I’d just gotten my hands on that T-shirt, which wasn’t officially for sale, so I had to learn how to say, “Can I buy your T-shirt?” in Spanish and then get a stadium employee to sell it to me after exiting the stadium.
And finally, in case this article didn’t make it clear, my season of snagging is now done. I’ll be watching the final World Series game(s) on TV…