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Looking for a little feedback on a piece

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by smsu_scribe, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    Hey all, hoping some people can give me some feedback on this feature. Sorry about posting it in this section, but I need to turn it in tonight, and I want to make sure I get everything out of the story that I can. So any comments and suggestions would be great. Figured maybe discussing craft for a few minutes would be a welcome break from layoffs and everything.

    Marshall High School baseball coaches Steve Fleck and Blaine Schnaible used to recline inside a shed at Independence Park as the sun faded and talk about their days as baseball players for Southwest State University. Nothing special, just casual conversation between a couple seasoned baseball men.
    All the while, though, a young ballplayer was listening and peppering the two with questions, trying to learn all he could about NCAA baseball. And from those conversations, nine-year-old Nate Baumann’s love for baseball took off.
    “Nate used to love to sit around and listen to us coaches talk,” Fleck said. “His eyes were as big as can be.”
    A decade later, Baumann is beginning to craft his own tales of baseball glory. And what stories they are shaking out to be.
    Baumann, a 2007 graduate of Marshall High School, is in his second season with the Williamsville College Vikings, and has already made his impression at the collegiate level. The 6-foot-1 outfielder made the 2008 All-North Central Conference Team in his freshman season after leading the Vikings with eight home runs, 33 RBI and a .400 batting average.
    “That gave me a huge confidence boost,” Baumann said. “I found out a lot about myself as a baseball player last year. It gave me confidence that I’m able to play at this level. Everything is working out.”
    For Fleck, there was never any doubt that Baumann’s natural talent could translate into Division II material. He first met Baumann while coaching in the Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association and has since worked with him as a coach in VFW leagues and as an assistant coach with the Marshall Tigers.
    “Since he’s been young, nobody’s worked harder,” Fleck said. “Nate was one of the last guys to leave practices, and he always wanted extra batting practice to get a few more swings in.”
    But then, baseball has never exactly been a chore for Baumann, as Fleck recalls.
    “When Nate was 10, 11 years old, nobody had more fun at the ball field,” Fleck said. “It didn’t matter if it was practice, if it was a game, or whether you were winning or losing. The sport was always fun for him.”
    Fun enough that being away from baseball even when injured isn’t an option for Baumann. Last summer, he injured his wrist in a game with the Marshall A’s, and was unable to play.
    But not unable to support his club, it turns out.
    “He would still go to the games, knowing he wasn’t going to play,” Fleck said. “He would go just to be there. It’d be so easy for a kid at the collegiate level to say, ‘I don’t need to go. I’ve got something else to do.’”
    Halfway through his sophomore campaign, things continue to fall into place for Baumann, and as a result, the entire club.
    Baumann is batting .373 this season and again leads Williamsville with six home runs and 23 RBI. The Vikings are 16-10 overall and 6-3 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. A year ago, the team finished 13-30 overall, while going 8-15 in the NCC.
    Prior to the 2009 season – the Vikings’ first in the NSIC – Williamsville was picked to finish 11th in the conference in the preseason coaches poll. But through nine conference games, the Vikings are sixth in the NSIC and have already handed preseason favorite Wayne State its first conference loss.
    On a team that returned 21 letterwinners from last year and starts six seniors, Williamsville first-year head coach Tim Huber leaves no room for speculation as to who the Vikings’ leader is.
    “We’re going to go kind of like Nate goes,” Huber said. “If he’s swinging it well, we follow. He’s a guy who can certainly hit the ball over the fence, and that can change the game.”
    While Baumann may have snuck up on opponents in 2008 – he went 3-for-4 with four RBI in his debut – this season, it’s safe to assume he’s been on the radar of NSIC pitchers. That, along with the pressure of following up his stellar freshman year, briefly weighed on Baumann.
    “I was really nervous coming back this year, especially with the year I had last year,” Baumann said. “But at the same time, I just think of it as baseball. I try to take it game by game the whole year.”
    But when his college games run out, what’s in store for Baumann?
    “That’s the million-dollar question,” Huber said. “I’ve talked to some scouts about him, and he’s got a shot (at the major leagues). Tool-wise, he’s got the things scouts are looking for.”
    For Baumann, however, it’s all about staying in the moment.
    “I can't think of any other place I'd rather be," Baumann said. "The life of a college baseball player – it doesn’t really get much better than that, especially on a team that’s scrappy and winning. I’m a pretty lucky guy right now.”
    Game by game, remember?
  2. if you post it at writers' workshop i'll give it a read tonight
  3. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    Thanks, drink. It's in there.
  4. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    It's a solid feature. The one thing that jumps out at me is the last line. I'm not sure what you were going for there, but it didn't work for me. I would try to come up with another kicker that better sums up the story or just end it with the quote.
  5. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    Thanks, Barsuk. My attempt in the last line was to be referring back to Baumann's quote that he takes things "game by game," and now he says he's not worried about the major leagues yet.

    But I did have some hesitation with that last line, and if I have to explain it, then obviously I'm not crafting this right. Do you think this idea for the last line has any potential, and if so, how would you maybe rework it? Or should I just scrap it?
  6. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    Maybe it's just me, but I need a little context here. What were they doing in the shed? Is that where they went after practice or something? And was it just the two coaches and a 9-year-old child unrelated to either of them? That seems weird. Where were his parents?

    Also, the bolded part is a sentence fragment, and it's "a couple of seasoned baseball men."

    The last line of the story doesn't add any value and it should go.
  7. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    OK, Pirates, I see what you mean now. You're right, this needs more developing. I'm going to throw this revised lead out there and see what people think.

    Years ago, Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association coaches Steve Fleck and Blaine Schnaible used to sit back inside a shed at Independence Park after practices and talk about their days as baseball players for Southwest State University. It was just casual conversation for a couple of seasoned baseball men.
    But one of their younger ballplayers kept coming over to sit with them, listening and peppering the two with questions, trying to learn all he could about NCAA baseball. And from those conversations, nine-year-old Nate Baumann’s love for baseball took off.
  8. HorseWhipped

    HorseWhipped Guest

    I'm not a fan of kickers unless they're needed, especially when a story ends with a good quote.

    "I'm a pretty lucky guy" is your end quote. Leave the reader with that.

    Good feature, though. Nice quotes throughout.
  9. jps

    jps Active Member

    yeah ... final 'kicker' sentences typically are pretty unnecessary. I tend to axe them when they are turned in - many times it's an editorial comment more than anything else, I guess, and many times they just try to hard.
  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Ugh ... so you're that one copy editor I hate ;)
  11. jps

    jps Active Member

    when I was a youngster, I thought they were cute, too, and was annoyed when they were chopped. then I came to realize how unneeded they are in most instances. the story doesn't suffer in the least to get rid of them and many times writers, like I said, just try to hard to be cute. get a good, solid quote and end it.

    (and no, actually an se, but same difference, right? )
  12. DirtyDeeds

    DirtyDeeds Guest

    I think that's much better than the original. Haven't read the whole thing yet.
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