Baseball Monday: The All-Star Break

Baseball MondaysIf you’re a Major League Baseball fan, you know this week is the All-Star Game. This year, the timing is strange, because I’ve been playing fantasy baseball all season and finally, mercifully, I’ve got a team that doesn’t totally suck and I’m inching up the standings… and then All-Star Break. It’s kind of anti-climactic. Not to mention, I always thought there was something kind of Field Day-ish about the pageantry of the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. Fun, sure, but irrelevant and kind of childish? I dunno.

The fun part, though, is the way the teams rally on social media to get their guys on the NL or AL teams. Thus the All-Star teams end up being a Who’s Who of the most popular players in the game. (Talent is usually relevant—baseball fans typically like players who do well and help win games—but since fans vote, it’s more a popularity contest than anything else.)

All Star GameWhich begs the question: who would be on your All-Star team? After I finish putting most of this year’s Yankee team on there—because I really thought this year would be not great, but as of when I’m writing this post, we’re currently in first place in the division—who’s left?

I mean, the team doesn’t have to be all Yankees. We can pick some guys from other teams, too.

I’ll kick the question to you all. Which athletes, be they current, historical, real, or fictional, would be on the All-Star Team… of your heart?

Some suggestions to get you going:

Babe RuthI’ve always been fascinated by Babe Ruth, one of the greatest players of all time, whose athletic prowess was essentially fueled by hot dogs, moonshine, and women. Hardly performance enhancing drugs, those. It can’t be denied that the 1927 Yankees, on which Ruth was part of the Murderer’s Row of unstoppable hitters, was one of the greatest baseball teams ever assembled. Ruth’s stats still hold up, and his records went unchallenged for decades.

jeter-306-1406130724As a Yankees fan since the early 90s, I watched pretty much all of the Captain’s career, and he will forever be one of my favorites. Likable guy, super talented, part of the late-90s NYY dynasty. NGL, he was a little bit the inspiration for Matt Blanco in Out in the Field.

Jmd 0270 MAUER BPOh, you want a non-Yankee? Fine, fine. Here’s Joe Mauer from the Twins, forever and always my baseball boyfriend. He’s so cute. 😉 (Your choices don’t have to be deep. Sometimes a little shallow ogling is okay.)

Tom BerengerI always had kind of a soft spot for Tom Berenger’s character in Major League. Maybe I have a soft spot for underdogs? No, I’m a Yankees fan, never mind. Honorable fictional mention to every character Kevin Costner has played in a baseball movie, because there are a lot of those.

All right, your turn. Who’s on your All-Star Team? They don’t even have to be baseball players if baseball isn’t your sport. Football? Hockey? Basketball? Who you got?

Baseball Monday: The Long Slide Home Cover Reveal

Baseball MondaysFirst, a little Rainbow League business!

I wrote this little interview with Mason and Patrick. It’s a little silly and Patrick is inappropriate, but that’s how it should be. 🙂 The book is, of course, available for purchase at the Dreamspinner Press website or the ebook store of your choice.

But now, the reason we’re all here: to feast our eyes on the cover for Nate and Carlos’s book, The Long Slide Home:

The_Long_Slide_Home_Final_FLAT

No buy links yet, but you can add it on Goodreads!

Baseball Monday: Out in the Field Epilogue

Baseball MondaysIn light of it both being Pride weekend in NYC and the recent Supreme Court ruling, I thought it might be fun to revisit some old friends, and so today, I give you a little epilogue with Matt and Iggy from Out in the Field.

Matt lingered in bed, enjoying the sun streaming in through the window and nothing in particular on his agenda for the day. Maybe he’d read a book or take a walk, or maybe he’d just sleep another hour; there was no rush on anything.

He wasn’t even that sore. Well, he was a little sore, especially through his legs, probably from all the jumping and cheering he’d done when the high school kids he’d been coaching had won the city-wide baseball finals. And, since today was technically the last day of school, he was done coaching for a while, unless he decided to get involved with Little League or something over the summer. Iggy had been encouraging him to do just that. He’d grumbled about getting old and needing some time off, but he knew perfectly well he coped better with Iggy’s time away during the baseball season by keeping busy. So, yeah, maybe he’d look into a coaching gig for the summer now that the academic year was over. He’d worry about that tomorrow, because right now, he was drifting back to sleep.

Just as he was slipping into dreamworld, though, there was a crash at the front door. Matt jerked up in bed, convinced the apartment was being broken into. He was about to scramble out of bed and grab a bat or something when he heard, “Matt! Matt, oh my god, Matt! Where are you?”

“Bedroom. Jesus, Iggy, you scared the shit out of me.”

Iggy appeared at the bedroom doorway with a sheepish grin. “Sorry. Well, not really. Have you heard the news?”

“What news? I just woke up.” Matt stretched his arms and wondered if he should bother to lay back down. “Shouldn’t you be at practice?”

“Fuck practice. This is more important.”

Matt spared a thought for what on earth could have Iggy this wound up, but instead patted Iggy’s side of the bed and said, “All right. Tell me.”

Iggy smiled, so clearly it wasn’t bad news. He sat on the bed and put a hand on Matt’s thigh. “Babe, the Supreme Court ruling was just announced. We won!”

Through the haze of sleepy misunderstanding, Matt stared at Iggy until he remembered that the Court was supposed to have ruled on marriage equality. “Wait, what? We won?”

“It’s unconstitutional to ban us from marrying each other. Not just here in New York, but across all fifty states. Can you believe that? Did you ever think you’d see the day?”

“No. I really didn’t.” It was overwhelming. Matt’s heart raced as he thought about it. But then, the world had changed so fast. When Matt had retired from the game, coming out publicly seemed inconceivable. But now Iggy was out and proud and still an active player. He got some shit for it in some stadiums, but the Eagles organization made it clear that they always had his back. They’d even issued tee-shirts just that season that showed the Eagles’ logo done in a rainbow. Fans could purchase Rodriguez jerseys (and faux vintage Blanco journeys, even) with pride messages or rainbow flags on them.

Matt had been following the news. He and Iggy had talked quite a bit when the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. But Matt was still adjusting his expectations. He was a gay man in his forties, after all, and he’d spent most of his life hiding that he was gay; marriage had never felt like it was in the cards. Not even after the state of New York had ruled it legal.

He looked at Iggy, who was still smiling ear to ear. “It’s really…” Matt tried. Then he shook his head. “I mean, across the United States. All of the states. Gay couples can get married?”

Out in the Field“Yup. I mean, I imagine there will be some resistance in some states, you know, but it’s… I had pushed the whole thing out of my mind. I was worried the Court would rule with the appeals court and the bans would be upheld, and I didn’t want to think about that, so I had pushed it aside. We’ve got that series against the Sox starting tonight, which is what I really should be thinking about, and Bill is going to kill me, but… I got an alert on my phone just as I was raising my hand to hail a cab to the stadium, so I came back because I had to tell you in person.”

Matt closed his eyes for a moment to just feel everything that was happening. It had been a strange couple of years. Iggy was still widely considered one of the most valuable players in the Majors, Matt was highly sought after as both a coach and a public speaker, and the anticipated apocalypse hadn’t happened. So life was good. But Matt’s reluctance to even think the word “marriage” near Iggy had stemmed in part from his constant fear that all of this was about to crumble down around them.

But, no, the Supreme Court had ruled that gay couples across the whole country could get married.

Iggy was saying something now; Matt stopped thinking to listen.

“So in the eyes of the law, we’re real people, you know? Our relationship is real. And it means something important.”

Iggy was right. All the years he and Matt had been together had been good. Not without problems, both outside of their relationship and within it, but definitely good. Great. Amazing, even. Matt’s love for Iggy hadn’t dimmed in the years they’d been together, even after they settled into routines and habits. Matt loved Iggy even more now than he had that night of his going away party, back when he’d been traded to Texas and was planning to move across the country, and Iggy had stood in the kitchen and told Matt he loved him and wasn’t ready to let him go yet, and Matt’s heart had neatly burst because he loved Iggy right back. He loved Iggy more now than he had when Iggy had supported him through his injury and retirement. He loved Iggy more now than he did the day Iggy came out to the public and they’d hugged in the stadium in front of God and the Eagles and everyone.

And because they’d been together for nearly six years, and because the world had not ended because of it, and because the Supreme Court of the United States had just more or less blessed their relationship, Matt said, “Marry me.”

Iggy’s smile was incandescent. “Oh, baby. I thought you’d never ask.”

Baseball Mondays: Mustaches

Baseball MondaysSure, baseball is a game of strategy and statistics, of skill and athleticism, of nail-biting pitchers’ duels and home-run glory. But I want to talk today about another crucial part of the game: facial hair.

I took some delight when, earlier this year, my beloved Yankees started growing mustaches during a winning streak. There was magical power in those mustaches. The Yankees grew them… and kept winning. These things must be related.

So can we take a moment to discuss the city of Cincinnati’s All-Star Game celebration, which consists of putting giant mustaches all over the city? Because it’s kind of my favorite thing right now.

Mustaches in Cincinnati from @AllStarGame on Twitter.

Mustaches in Cincinnati from @AllStarGame on Twitter.

Here’s a little more info.

If it were not already clear, I have a thing about baseball mustaches. They’re so old-timey and whimsical. I mean…

Circa 1870s

Circa 1870s

Anybody else have opinions on baseball mustaches? For my money, the greatest one of all time was Rollie Fingers’ curly-cued beauty. I mean, get a load of this mustache.

Rollie Fingers

Rollie Fingers

Pretty glorious, right? I’m willing to entertain alternate candidates in the comments.

If you need more, there’s a whole Baseball Mustaches tumblr. It makes me happy.

If you want more hot baseball action (sadly lacking in mustaches) The Windup and Thrown a Curve are now available just about everywhere.

Baseball Monday: DIY Plushy Baseballs

Baseball MondaysSorry for my long hiatus! It’s been a really zany few weeks, what with RT, vacation, and BEA. But I’m back, and ready to carry on these weekly baseball posts at least until Rainbow League Book 3 releases later this summer!

Today, I’ve got a craft project. I made a bunch of these plushy baseballs to give out as prizes at RT (and I’ve made them before for other conventions). I invented the pattern, and it’s pretty easy if you know knitting basics. So I figured I’d make the pattern available for anyone who wants to try it out.

Finished products, done in neon in honor of the Rainbow League.

Finished products, done in neon in honor of the Rainbow League.

You should be able to download a PDF of the pattern from the bottom of this post. I’ve used worsted weight cotton or superwash wool for most of these. It’s kind of just a fun, goofy project. Also they seem to work pretty well as cat toys.

You can download the pattern here: Kate’s Knit Plushy Baseballs

And remember, Book 2: Thrown a Curve is available for pre-order.

Baseball Monday: Quick Note!

Baseball MondaysI’m skipping Baseball Monday today and next week due to RT prep and trying to finish edits on Rainbow League Book 3 before I go. (I know, “Awww.”) If you’ve got a great discussion topic for a future Baseball Monday, I’d love to hear it! Hit me up, either in a comment, or my contact info is in the sidebar.

Baseball Monday: Thrown a Curve Cover Reveal

Baseball MondaysI snuck a peak at this cover in my newsletter last week. So here’s the cover for Book 2 in the Rainbow League series, Thrown a Curve, Mason and Patrick’s story.

First, the blurb:

Mason made headlines when, after his professional baseball career was sidelined by an injury, he very publicly came out of the closet. Now he’s scratching the baseball itch playing in the Rainbow League while making his way through New York’s population of beefcakes, even though they all come up short. Plus, he’s still thinking about last summer’s encounter with hot, effeminate, pierced and tattooed Patrick—pretty much the opposite of the sort of man he has long pictured himself with.

Patrick hasn’t been able to forget Mason either, and now that baseball season is back upon them, he’s determined to have him again. Mason is unlike any man Patrick has ever been with before, and not just because he’s an ex-Yankee. All Patrick has to do is convince a reluctant Mason that their one night wasn’t just a crazy fluke and that they could be great together…if only Mason could get past his old hang-ups and his intolerant family.

Thrown a Curve

The book will be out in June!

(And just a reminder, book 1 is available NOW from Dreamspinner, All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or the ebook store of your choice!)

Baseball Monday: Barnstorming Tour

Baseball Mondays[Updated with links!]

I don’t know if you can call the mini blog tour I’m launching for The Windup this week a “barnstorming,” exactly, but let’s pretend. If you want to get another peek at the book before you read it, you can go to these places:

First, I wrote a post last week for Romance at Random in which I recommended some (het) baseball romances. Do you guys have favorite baseball romances, gay, straight, or in between?

RL BlogTourCard-01This week, there will be stops in these places (links to come once posts go up):

Thursday 4/23: Joyfully Jay (The tale of how the series came to be.)
Saturday 4/25: The Novel Approach (Character interview with Ty.)
Thursday 4/30: Prism Book Alliance (on baseball as setting)

If you guys have comments, questions, answers, whatever, please share in the comments. We’ll get excited for the book launch together! The book is out Friday 4/24 and can be preordered from Dreamspinner. To tide you over, I’ve got a Pinterest board with all sorts of baseball goodies on it.

Baseball Monday: Winner!

The winner of the Baseball Monday giveaway was:

Angela!

Let us all take a moment to celebrate with the World Series Champion 2009 Yankees!

The World Series Champion 2009 Yankees

I’m doing a small blog tour for the book closer to the release date, so there may be more chances to win, or you can get a copy of The Windup for your very own on April 24 from most online booksellers.

I’ll keep up with the Baseball Monday posts at least throughout April because I’ve been having fun writing them. So come back next week!

It’s worth noting that today is opening day! My fantasy team is killing it already; I took a “I shouldn’t put a guy on my team just because I like him” approach, because that put me in dead last place last year. I’m currently in first; we’ll see if that lasts.

In the meantime, here’s some hot link action:

Add The Windup on Goodreads | Pre-order The Windup from Dreamspinner Press | Subscribe to my newsletter to be informed when the book is available. | I’m on Pinterest and have put up a Rainbow League board!

Baseball Mondays: Meet the Rainbow League Teams

Baseball MondaysBefore I even wrote a word of the Rainbow League series, I sat down one afternoon and came up with eight teams. I assigned each team a geographic neighborhood, either a borough or a neighborhood. So we have the Bronx Bombshells (a play on the Bronx Bombers), the Brooklyn Hipsters, and the Queens representing the outer boroughs. The other five teams are from neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn: the West Village, SoHo, and Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan; Park Slope and Coney Island in Brooklyn. Some neighborhoods I picked because they have large gay populations, but some I picked just because they made good puns or team names. And some of the teams I came up with originally didn’t make the cut. I spent a lot of times making puns, basically.

You can learn more about all eight teams by checking out the teams & players page.

HipstersCardThe team we spend the most time with in the first three books is the Brooklyn Hipsters. The team is captained by Josh, who is on the Rainbow League’s governing board. Josh is married to a burly Italian guy named Tony who doesn’t play baseball. In Book 1, Josh’s high school friend Ian moves to town, so Josh talks Ian into joining the team in order to meet new people. Ian meets Ty. Hijinks ensue. Their teammate Mason is a former professional player who left the Yankees because of an injury—Mason’s one of the heroes of Book 2. And Carlos and Nate play alongside them; they are best friends who grew up together in the Bronx. They’re the heroes of Book 3.

One of the things I like about team sports as a subject for a novel is that there’s a natural camaraderie between teammates. I figured it made sense to have most of the series centered on one team. The beauty of this world, though, is that there’s a potential for more books, and the groundwork is here for the players from other teams to have their own romances.

Anyone play for a team? Or can you think of a punny name for a team based in your home town?

By the way, if you missed it last week, The Windup (Book 1) is available for pre-order from Dreamspinner. The book will be available April 24.

And this is the LAST WEEK to enter the giveaway. I’ll announce a winner next Monday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway