December 2010

Upper West Side blizzard photos

Want to see what New York City looks like with 18 inches of snow? I wandered around the Upper West Side yesterday — the day after the blizzard — and took a bunch of pics.

Here’s Amsterdam Avenue:
Here’s a side street between Amsterdam and Broadway:
Here’s Broadway:
Here are some delivery bikes:
Here’s a crosswalk:
Here’s some delicious lemon ice:
Here’s an unplowed street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive:
In the photo above, the building waaay off in the distance is in New Jersey, on the other side of the Hudson River.
Here’s my friend Maria (in the white jacket) and my half-sister Martha (wearing black) near some book tables on Broadway:
They dragged me to Urban Outfitters and proceeded to try on every single piece of the clothing in the entire store.
Here I am with Martha…
…and Maria:
The End.

Book update No. 28 — compiling the index

Last month, Random House sent me the first pass of the manuscript. My job then was to make sure that all the artwork was properly laid out and to make my final round of tweaks. Normally, that would’ve been it for me. No more work on the book. Vacation-time at last! But this book isn’t so simple…

In the publishing world, the manuscript always goes through a second pass, but the author hardly ever sees it. That’s because it’s supposed to be perfect at that point. The layout is finalized, and so are the page numbers. Those numbers correspond to the table of contents and to the index; if a single line of text were to be added or deleted anywhere in the book, it would screw everything up. So, there’s really nothing to gain by showing the second pass to the author. At that point, the book pretty much IS what it is. Having another pair of eyes look at it would only complicate things.

Well, guess what? Random House sent me the second pass earlier this week:


Want to guess why? (Here’s a hint: look at the title of this blog entry.) That’s right, it’s up to ME to compile the index for my book. Here’s a closer look at the cover letter on top of the manuscript:


Compiling an index is an art. There are professional indexers, and they charge a lot of money. If I felt like spending that kind of money, I would’ve paid one of them to do this job. But instead, I decided to take a stab at it myself. (This way, I’ll have extra money to spend next season on baseball games.) Newsflash: Making an index is rather time-consuming. For the last three days, I’ve done nothing else with my life. I basically read the entire book VERY slowly and carefully, and I compiled a gigantic list of everything important, and of course I noted all the page numbers. Here’s what the first page of my index looked like after I made it through the first two (of 13) chapters:

It’s kind of a fun list, right? I mean, it’s not just a collection of modern-day players and teams and ballparks. We got Joe Cronin and Connie Mack Stadium. We got Florida governor Jeb Bush and fashion designer Marc Ecko. There are even categories for “death threats” and the “FBI.”

I love making lists, and in the process of making this one, I realized just how much stuff this book covers. Here’s what the first page of the index looked like after the 12th chapter:


I’m not sure if the “Aberdeen Ordinance Plant” will make the final cut. It’s where a certain Hall of Famer (referenced on the back cover of the book) once caught a ball that was dropped from an airplane. But has anyone even heard of the Aberdeen Ordinance Plant? More importantly, will anyone ever want to look it up in the index? Probably not, but I’m still hoping to keep it in there. My editor will have the final say. And what about a name like Wally Berger? Is he worthy of being included in the index? You’re probably wondering, “Who the hell is Wally Berger?” so check him out on, and look at his rookie-year stats. I’d have to say he’s worthy even though people probably won’t go looking for him. I think any major leaguer, even some scrubby guy from the 1870s, is worthy of being in the index. But what about someone like Burns Bintliff? He owned the Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud company for a little while. These are tough decisions, and I’m just not sure what to do. I think it’ll mainly depend on how much space I’m given for the index, and it looks like that’ll be at least six pages.

Here’s what the index looked like after I finished combing through the book and played with the formatting:


You may have noticed that “ALDS” is now “American League Division Series” and that I deleted “America Online.” But now what? Should I create categories and subsections for things like “American League” and “batting practice”? Oy, I don’t know what to do, but you know what? Even if I just leave it as it is, I still think it’s a pretty damn good index.

Oh, and by the way, the “minor queries” that were flagged with those thin Post-It Notes are indeed quite minor. It’s stuff like, “Should that word be capitalized?” and “Do you want to replace this word that appears twice in back-to-back paragraphs?” And so on. Phew!

Dissecting a baseball, YouTube style

Remember when I went to Random House last month and dissected a baseball? Well, there’s now a video of it on YouTube. Check it out: 

This video was actually posted on the Knopf/Doubleday channel. If you want to see my own channel, click here. And by the way, the new book is coming out exactly three months from today.

12/6/10 at Madison Square Garden

I went to the Knicks game last night and…you know, whatever. I can’t get into any sport other than baseball, but I’m still glad I went. I’d gotten a free ticket, and the person who gave it to me is a new friend (from my writing group) named Laurie. Mainly, I was just looking forward to spending some time with her.

This was our view during the national anthem:
This was the view of my water bottle after the concession lady insisted on removing the cap:
Such stupidity. I was never even checked by security when I walked into the Garden, and yet my effin’ bottle cap had to be removed. I truly don’t get it. But anyway, here’s a semi-crappy photo of some guy on the Timberwolves getting ready to shoot a free throw:
I have no idea who it was. I actually hadn’t heard of ANY of the players on the Timberwolves, but I came prepared with rosters:
I mainly used the rosters to check and see how tall the players are. I love tall people. I’d only heard of two players on the Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire and Eddy Curry, and I don’t think Curry played.
Here’s a closeup of the scoreboard (or whatever they call it in basketball) during the closing seconds:
The T’wolves scored two points right after I took this photo, so the Knicks ended up winning, 121-114.
Here I am a bit closer to the court after the game…
…and here I am with Laurie:
She’s cool.
I try so hard not to think about baseball during the colder months. (Don’t let the MLB cap fool you.) All I want to do is get as far away from the sport as possible so I can relax and be social, but this basketball game really made me miss it.

Book update No. 27 — galleys

Remember when I received galleys for Watching Baseball Smarter back in November 2006? I’m guessing the answer is no, but anyway, history repeated itself today when I received galleys for The Baseball. Check it out:

This is NOT the finished product. These galleys don’t have my last round of edits, and as you can see, they weren’t printed with the final cover. They’re just meant to be rough/advanced copies for the media. Earlier this afternoon, 250 copies were sent out, so hopefully that’ll stir up some interest.
Here’s a closer look at the front cover…
…and here’s a look at the back:
Reminder: the back cover that you see here is completely different from the version that will actually appear on the book.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t been to my website in the last few days, you should check it out. There used to be two books on the home page. Now there are three. Also, I’ve been adding lots of pics to the photo section (specifically from 1978 as well as 1981-1985), and I’ll be adding more soon (mainly from 1986-1992). That huge slide conversion project is finally paying off.