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stolen base feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by LemMan, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    Hey folks...

    Here is a stolen-base piece I wrote. It's a tad long - ran around 40 inches - so I'll just provide the link. I'd like some feeback on the story, but I also want to know what you all think of the sidebars and such.


  2. RayKinsella

    RayKinsella Member

    I am sure you are already aware of this BUT...

  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    There are a few problems with your numbers and your history here, Lem.

    -- Crawford led the AL in 2003 and '04, not -04-'05
    -- You said none stole as many as Figgins' 62 in 2005, but the NL leaders in 2003 (Juan Pierre 65) and '04 (Scott Podsednik, 70) stole more.
    -- You spend a big chunk of space on the pre-1900 stats that simply don't count, then use the baseball-reference.com Top 10 list that includes the pre-1900 stats instead of the official MLB records.
    -- Rather than the Top 10 of all time, how about a progression of the SB record 1900 on... before Cobb's 96..including Maury Wills' 104 in '62, Brock's 118 on '74 and Rickey's 130 in '82... and a Top 10 seasons: Rickey's three 100+, Vince Coleman's 3 consecutive 100+ ('85-'87).
    -- You mention the record being broken 3 times from '62-'82 yet nowhere in the story is there mention of Maury Wills, who broke Cobb's 77-year-old record in '62 and and made the stolen base a weapon again.
    -- The only players quoted are Crawford and Figgins. What about trying to reach out to Wills or to Rickey, who will talk forever, who will tell you everything that's wrong about how guys steal bases now. He was brought in by the Mets as a special base-running instructor and that's why Jose Reyes led the NL in steals last year and leads the majors now. Talk to Reyes about being tutor by the best.

    What you have is not badly done, but for 40" there appears to be a lot of holes and missing historical perspective.
  4. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Rickey Henderson will talk about Rickey Henderson anytime Rickey Henderson can talk about Rickey Henderson.
  5. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Man,

    I'm not going to get into point of facts or anything--I'll leave that to others. Strictly on structure. My observations, FWTW:

    If you were doing twenty inches or less then I'd say your lede is appropriate but in this case, with room to breathe and space to explain, I suggest an alternative. Rather than the overview lede, might you not start with Dave Roberts coming in as a pinch runner, y'know, a move seemingly inconsequential, trivial. The last faint hope. Then get action happening: him reading Rivera, running down the basepath, sliding in under the throw. For a story about one of the most exciting plays (I don't want to hear from the Legion of Triple Loyalists) it does read a little static.

    "What happened next passes for New England scripture." Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean you don't spell it out and write it up.

    And then maybe your first sentence becomes your fifth. You start with a conclusion in your lead and then rationalize/justify/prove it. Maybe if you show us it in play first you'll make an easier adjustment into the body of your text.

    I sorta wish that you had shown in the lede the momentous (Roberts's steal) and contrasted it with the everyday (I dunno, a steal in a spring training game) and shown how much one resembles the other, or something like that. Figgins on Roberts as it were. Maybe even a pitcher trying to hold.

    Take my musings for all they're worth. Not much.

    YHS, etc
  6. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest


    I agree with what's been said in terms of accuracy and content. In a piece this long, a piece that proposes to go this far back into the history of the game, you need to drill deeper. I know that research like that is kind of a headache when you're trying to keep the regional hooks front and center, but it still needs to be done.

    As feature writing, I'd second FoftheF - you need a much stronger lede. Something in scene, something that puts the reader in the shoes of the base stealer - if you keep the current configuration of the rest of the story. That said, however, I'd suggest that you go back and reread just your first couple of grafs and then your last. You'll find that the premise you set up at the top isn't the one you resolve at the bottom.

    The top sells us "the steal that saved the series for the Sox." The bottom tells us the steal isn't dead. In essence, then, the piece is answering a question you don't raise until well into the story.

    I find that feature pieces really work best when the bottom resolves, clearly, the premise suggested at the top. This piece lands
    without a satisfying resonance, because the introduction and conclusion are about two different things.

    I'd also be mindful of the quote/text/text/quote construction you've built here - varying the architecture helps vary the rhythm of a piece and keeps the reader on his/her toes.

    Thanks for posting.
  7. scrapdog004

    scrapdog004 Member

    In addition to what's already been said, I feel a little discontinuity in the second section. You start talking about technique, but you stop once you get past Figgins' lead. Then you get into Crawford's history and never come back to the rest of the technique.

    The content, overall, is good. But the story didn't grab me in the lead, much like was said earlier.
  8. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Man,

    Re structure ... In the case of this story, the steal was on but the pitch fouled off. Not a bad end, but no end, just a sorta suspension but no denouement.

    As Mr macg noted, Roberts in the lede and Roberts in the end might have worked better. So might another steal, momentous or not.

    YHS, etc
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