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It was supposed to be short ... but ...

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Money007, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. Money007

    Money007 Guest

    Hey everyone,

    This is a baseball gamer that took a life of its own. It was going to be a regular 400-500 word story but the top of the seventh inning forced me to write it more like a 700-word centerpiece story. But I think you'll agree, what happened in that seventh inning had to be told. I tried to abbreviate as much middle action as possible.

    Is it way too long? Any advice on how to shorten it if it is too long? Or should I be thrilled that a run-of-the-mill gamer turned in to something of much more interest. THANKS!

    The Warriors' 6-5 win over Stephens County Monday night was just another relaxing game at Arrowhead Park. Yeah, right.

    Oconee County's catcher Spencer Ellis may have said it best, without hyperbole.

    “That was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he said.

    Ellis recorded the last out of a wild top half of the seventh inning, clinching the vital region game for Oconee County.

    The inning started with the Warriors hanging on to a paper-thin, one-run lead and Stephens County’s clean-up hitter, Keaton Thompson, leading off, having been hit by a pitch in two of his first three at-bats.

    The first pitch from reliever Jake Barnette struck Thompson in the elbow, but the home plate umpire claimed that Thompson leaned into the pitch to intentionally get hit.

    After lots of arguments from Stephens County coaches and fans, and another four pitches from Barnette, it happened again. The second time, Barnette’s pitch was much closer to the plate and the umpire ruled Thompson out.

    Then, the pine tar hit the fan.

    After arguing with the umpire, Stephen County coach Tony Wilson was ordered to stay in the dugout. Two Indians’ fans were kicked out of the game after harassing the umpire.

    Even the announcers from WNEG, Toccoa’s local radio station, were calling the umpire “Helen Keller” – off the air, of course.

    Meanwhile, Ellis and Barnette played catch to keep warm.

    “The rule is, if you put out your elbow or anything else to get hit, you don’t get the base,” Oconee County coach Stan Fricks said. “That is something the umpires were supposed to focus on this year. I think it was a good call.”

    Once the game was brought back to order, the Indians put runners at second and third off a single from Chan Cash and a catching error at first base by Alex Moore that should have been the inning’s second out.

    Without hesitation, Fricks gave Moore a chance at redemption, putting him on the mound to get the game’s last two outs.

    “It was pretty stressful,” Moore said. “They were really pumped up. But it gave me a chance to make up for what I just did.”

    After walking Bryan Whitfield to load the bases, Moore quickly got a 0-2 count on Matt Hill. Then things got ridiculous again.

    On Moore’s third pitch, Stephens County went for a suicide squeeze for the tying run. The problem was, Hill missed the bunt and struck out, stranding Cash between third base and home.

    After several seconds of chasing down Cash, Ellis dove at him as he broke for home and barely made the tag for the final out.

    “I figured I might as well go after him,” Ellis said. “He was pretty close to me. I just wanted to make that last out so bad.”

    The game started out as a pitcher’s dual between the Indians’ Ethan Martin and the Warriors’ John Newsome. Prior to the bottom of the fourth inning, both teams combined for only two hits and no runs.

    The Warriors broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning off three hits against Martin, who had looked untouchable.

    Designated Hitter Alex Yarbrough got the scoring started with an RBI single with one out. Nick Stephens added a two-run double to finish the rally.

    “He’s just quick. He jumps on you in a hurry,” Yarbrough said. “I think he might have slowed down a bit at that point. We had him timed better.”

    Newsome threw four innings and only gave up two hits and three walks while striking out six. His relief was not so lucky.

    Stephens County’s sluggers hit home runs off Tyler Surrency and Barnette and scored five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to set up the wild seventh.

    Once the dust settled and the Stephens County players and fans were safely on their way back to Toccoa, Fricks reflected on how the win affected the Warriors’ shot at a region title, only a game behind the Indians in the standings.

    “This put us in second,” he said. “If we don’t win this, Stephens County probably wins the region. We had to win it to have a shot.”
  2. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    How would a regular reader outside your area know who the Warriors are?

    Why was it vital?

    No need to say "paper-thin" when you say "one-run."

    Is it Stephens County or Stephen County? I've seen it both ways in this write up.

    Fielding error? I've never heard it referred to as a catching error.


    Is hitter capitalized here?
  3. Money007

    Money007 Guest

    Thanks for the edits. Yeah, I pretty much posted it right away before proofreading. I had some of those corrected before print. Any thoughts on the length, or how to shrink it down?
  4. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    I'd say that's around 26-29 inches, which is what we devote to a big district game here. So I'll say it was good. But quality is better than quantity.
  5. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    I get the feeling that you came back from this game and were so jazzed by the seventh that you just had to write it all. Resist that feeling. Take a step back and realize what is very important, because there is good stuff in here. There's a very good featurized gamer on the preseason decision to crack down on batters leaning into pitches. There's a very good story in a manager rolling the dice with a suicide squeeze that blew up in his face. Or there's a straight gamer in two teams playing an important game that comes down to the final inning.
    Also, remember that not every reader is so connected to what is going on with those teams. Explain the significance of the game, the relationship between these two teams and remember that not everyone cares for the inning-by-inning details. Focusing on the drama, not who drove in who and who pitched helps to draw in readers that don't attend either high school.
  6. Money007

    Money007 Guest

    Thanks App. That was a lot of help. You were right on about being jazzed about the seventh. I had never seen anything like that, so I guess I overwhelmed myself trying to get every detail in there. In hindsight, I probably would have led the with the disastrous suicide squeeze then transitioned to the regional importance. Am I on the right track?
  7. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    That's probably what I would have done.
  8. Take out your first two lines (especially the "yeah right") and make it a one sentence, and a quote lede.

    The home plate umpire "said." You "claim" territory.

    Did you seriously just use that line? Please stop. You're the author, but that doesn't mean you need to put yourself in the story. Leave comments like this out of your copy.

    You don't need to mention what radio people said. Why would your paper be OK with making fun of Helen Keller anyway?
    "quickly" is redundant. Are you going to "slowly get an 0-2 count?" No. An 0-2 count requires two pitches exactly.

    Don't use "only" for anything but one hit or one run. Otherwise, where do you draw the line for using "only?" It's editorializing anyway. Let the reader decide if two hits is a lot.

    "Once the dust settled" is a cliche. Avoid all cliches. Also, how do you know the fans were "safely" on their way? You have a lot of editorializing in this story.
  9. Money007

    Money007 Guest

    Great stuff FireJim. Thanks. Can you tell that I was a double major in journalism AND English?
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