Ugh

August has not been kind. Oh, heck. It’s September already, isn’t it?

Maybe I pushed myself too hard in July, but August was a month of fatigue, possible a relapse of my mono. As if taking a clue from their general manager, my Angels with Crystal Balls have also been lagging, so much so that the team now sits in a tie for first place and occasionally dips to second.

As of this morning:

.289 batting average (1st by .008)
160 HR (10th but only 5 HR out of eighth)
819 RBI (2nd by 3 RBI)
116 SB (5th, 4 SB out of third)
4.14 ERA (6th)
1.29 WHIP (3rd)
81 wins (2nd, 1 win out of first)
65 saves (2nd and falling)

The league champion will be decided by whether or not the team I’m battling with can keep its batting average above the three teams on its heels.

Bonus van story for Naila:

I went to an ELAN schmoozer a week and a half ago, held at the St. Sulpice on St. Denis. I parked on de Maisonneuve (that’s not important, but it helps place the story for locals) and walked down to my van at 9:00 p.m.

As I started my engine, a red Volkswagen Jetta parallel-parked into the empty spot in front of me. He stopped and I turned on my lights. The passenger in the rear left seat opened his door but then shut it again. I took that as a cue that he say me and I pulled out to go on my merry way.

My merriment was interrupted by a thump. As I passed the Jetta, that rear passenger opened his door right into the side of the van, denting everything from my front door handle back to the rear panel. I had a series of nice red racing stripes, too. The Jetta door was twisted in a way that looked like its edge had melted.

The insurance companies properly deemed the other car to be 100% at fault. The poor driver was just a kid from the boonies, maybe 18, maybe with his first car. I bet the kid in the back seat never opens his door into traffic again, though.

The van’s in the garage, but we have a loaner car.

Best baseball all year

Monday, I came home early from our three-day multi-family camping trip (briefly: heat, beach, heat, food, and heat at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary) to coach our minor baseball A’s in the extra innings of a tie game called on account of darkness Thursday. The other team could not field enough players and had to forfeit, putting us in the final losers’ bracket game against a team that beat us 8-5 previously.

We had a bit of infield practice instead of our game in anticipation of yesterday’s losers’ final.

Wow, did it pay off. Our team played the best defensive game of baseball I’ve seen and that includes the B-level tournament select members participated in a few weeks ago. Our pitchers threw strikes. Our two pitchers got through the six innings in 80 pitches.

Our shortstop, who had never played baseball before mid-summer, played a flawless game. Our third baseman likewise. Our outfielders got the ball back to the infield quickly. I don’t want to dwell on errors, but on defense we made only two: a misguided throw home instead of to the cutoff man that allowed a runner to advance to third and a ground ball that our second baseman should have grabbed. Every other ball in play was either a solid hit or, more often, turned into an out. It was a spectacular game to watch.

We need to work on our hitting, though. We won only 2-1. Part of that was poor baserunning. We handed over three crucial outs on the basepaths. One was our first batter of the game, who walked and took a step off first base to be tagged by the first baseman. I’ve seen better sportsmanship, but not better gamesmanship. Another out was a foolish attempt to steal third on the runner’s own initiative, and another was a baserunner who took off for third, stopped, and returned to second as the runner from first slid in to that base. Those outs may have cost us runs; regardless, we still need better hitting.

We play in the championship Saturday and we’ll need to win twice to be champions. We can do it.

If you want to see photos of our boys, go to this page and scroll through. That’s Child Three with the wide stance at the plate. Here he is catching. In this one, you can see me with mono coaching third base and scoring.

Why newspapers are failing

Followers of 101 know what I think newspapers have to do to succeed, never mind survive. It boils down to one word: local.

Newswire filler, sports scores, general interest – all that is available on the Web earlier, in larger amounts, and often plain old better. Newspapers need to focus on the local issues. They need to use the paid resources – researchers and reporters – to dig and do some work instead of producing pap like syndicated veterinary advice or – in Montreal’s case – baseball.

Bill Wyman, in “Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing” on Splicetoday, has a far more detailed look at the thesis. Read it all, but I want to point out two of his nine conclusions, the first because it agrees with me and the second (his sixth) because one of my former students is sort of doing that in a blog.

1) Go hyper local; devote all resources, from reporting to front-page space, to local news. No one cares what the Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch has to say about Iraq.

[snip]

6) Create local listings second to none. Create them from the users’ point of view. Don’t use abbreviations. Overwhelm users with insider information that only locals know; where to park, where to sit, when to go, etc. Get rid of all the site navigation levels no one cares about. Put the information people want front and center.

Fiona O’Connor’s work on her Montreal for Insiders blog isn’t detailed enough to please Wyman, and the layout could use some tweaks, but it’s a good start. I’m not sure if one person could do all that work as a sideline endeavour.

Bonus health report:

I seem to be over my latest bout with exhaustion.