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.

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Baseball Monday: Eye Candy

Baseball MondaysI spent the weekend at a conference, so how about a softball (har-har) post this Baseball Monday?

Let’s face it, some of us watch sports because athletes have nice bodies. Not to be shallow. I mean, I love the mechanics of the game, I’m a dork about baseball statistics, but it’s hard not to admire a nice baseball body. But just in case you need a reminder:

• I put together this eye candy post for the release of Out in the Field.

• Here’s an important Buzzfeed post about baseball butts.

• I’ll be a Yankees fan for life, but Twins catcher Joe Mauer is kind of my platonic ideal of a hot baseball player (I call him my Baseball Boyfriend). He played Would You Rather with GQ and it was very cute.

• Other people have feelings about which baseball players are the hottest.

Do any of you have a Baseball Boyfriend, a particular baseball butt you admire, or even just a favorite player? (Derek Jeter for all time ever, if you want to know mine.) Please share. Bonus points for photos!

And, hey, the GIVEAWAY! STILL ON!

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Baseball Monday: Baseball Equality

Baseball MondaysLast summer, Major League Baseball appointed Billy Bean, the only living openly gay former pro player, the ambassador for inclusion. Last Friday, the the Washington Post published an article about the work he’s doing, hopefully paving the way for an active out gay player, just like Iggy Rodriguez in Out in the Field.

I put a few Easter eggs in the Rainbow League series for fans of that book, particularly in Book 2. The article on Billy Bean was well timed, because when I read it, I was wrapping up first edits on book 2 (titled Thrown a Curve) in which one of the heroes is former-Yankee Mason. Mason had a very different career than Iggy, in that it was ended more by an injury than anything else. Mason took the opportunity of a torn achilles, an injury he probably could have recovered from with time, to quit professional baseball and come out of the closet.

Mason didn’t think he had a better option. I think we’re approaching an era in which this will not be the case, but we aren’t there yet. Hence Billy Bean’s appointment. To me, this shows the MLB is serious about paving the way for an openly gay player, and part of Bean’s mission is to educate players and coaches about how to treat those players. Bean would know, given that he stayed in the closet for the seasons he played professionally.

Book 2 also has a subplot about Mason struggling to write an article about a college player who has just very publicly come out. I think this is most likely going to be the way in. Baseball will get a Michael Sam type who gets drafted out of college after he’s already come out.

What do you guys think? Is baseball ready for an out gay player?

You can still enter the giveaway!

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Baseball Monday: Hobby Leagues

Baseball MondaysSorry my post is late in the day this week. I’m still a little fuzzy after four days in Florida with the Dreamspinner Press crew. If I may gush for a moment, I walked away from the weekend feeling like I’m working with a seriously great group of people. The DSP staff is friendly, smart, business-savvy, and open to adapting and changing as the market does. My fellow authors are great to chat and hang around with. I got to wear cute dresses and cute shoes instead of sweaters and snow boots for a few days. It was all pretty fabulous.

But, now, baseball.

Early in the process of writing the series, back when I was still kind of just kicking the idea around, I ran into this story on gay sports leagues being the new hot hookup spots.

Perfect, right?

I mean, I’d settled on writing about an LGBT baseball league for this series I was planning, and that article was like confirmation that I was onto something.

To say I am not athletic is like saying deserts are a little dry, so suffice it to say I don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with this sort of league. But I know plenty of people who do. The Rainbow League is a hybrid of three things: 1) my ex-boyfriend used to play for a softball league, and I went to a good number of their games (there was some unifying theme I can’t recall—they all worked in IT, maybe—and the uniforms were basically brightly-colored tee-shirts and sweatpants, so it was not super fancy); 2) coworkers of mine were once in a hipster kickball league that seemed like a thinly veiled reason for getting together to drink one night a week; and 3) the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, whose meets I used to go to regularly, is all about puns in their team and player names.

So, basically, recreational baseball + drinking + puns = the Rainbow League.

(We’ll talk more about teams and mascots at a later date, but JUST WAIT, because there will be puns.)

The fun thing about creating a series like this is that I got to make up the rules. So if I were in charge of running a sports league, here’s how I’d do it. It’s also not limited to men; there are two all-female teams, one of which dominates the league (natch) and the league is open to people from all over the spectrum.

Do any of you play in a league, baseball or otherwise?

The Giveaway is still on!

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Baseball Mondays: Who do you root for?

Baseball MondaysIt’s time for another Baseball Monday!

This week’s topic is team alliances. Which team do you root for?

I know first-hand how slavish team devotion can be. I’ve been a fan of the NY Yankees since my dad brought me to my first game at Yankee Stadium when I was about twelve. I grew up in the New Jersey suburbs, about ten miles outside of NYC, so they were my hometown team, too. When I was a kid, the Mets weren’t a terrible team, either (see the 1986 World Series) but, I don’t know. I think there’s something intangible about team loyalty, and something imprints on you when you see a game live at an impressionable age. I mean, the Yankees were not great when I first started getting into baseball, but they were my team, you know? (And, besides, they turned it around.)

pink hat!

pink hat!

I went to college in Massachusetts, which meant I had to defend my baseball loyalties quite a bit. I’ve probably written about this before, but the tricky thing about living in MA and being both a Yankees fan and a girl was that a lot of people assumed I was a Pink Hatter rooting for the home team because I didn’t know better. I don’t know if that’s a universal term; in Boston, “Pink Hatters” are the girls who don’t know anything about baseball but come to games to cheer along with their boyfriends, and there’s a negative, ditzy connotation associated with them. They are so named because for a while, they all had baby pink hats like the one pictured. (I feel dirty just inserting that image into my post.)

I used to get pretty offended, but my weapon of choice was baseball statistics. In those days—the late 90s—I could have talked anyone’s ears off about Derek Jeter’s numbers, and usually whichever dude had dismissed me as a cute clueless girl was like, “Oh, wait, you know what you’re talking about.”

Jay-Z did not make this more famous than a Yankee can.

Jay-Z did not make this more famous than a Yankee can.

I mean, defending your team is one thing. Being a girl defending her team is another.

Anyway, now I try to go to a Yankee game once or twice a summer. I’ve seen some pretty epic games in person. I like going to games generally; I’ve been to plenty of non-Yankee games, too. (I went to one of the last games at the old Shea Stadium. My ex and I also once went on a stadium tour around the country. Wrigley left the strongest impression.) My youngest brother also follows minor league teams and likes to go to those. In Brooklyn we’ve got the Cyclones, but there are a bunch of teams in the greater New York Metropolitan area, if you like baseball but not pro stadium prices.

The team loyalties among the guys in The Rainbow League series are a little mixed. They love their own team, obviously. Neither Ian nor Ty, the heroes of Book 1, follow professional sports, so neither has strong opinions. Mason, one of the heroes of Book 2, used to be a Yankee, so he has pretty strong loyalties. And Carlos and Nate, the heroes of Book 3, grew up in the Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, and they go to games together all the time. So, wait, maybe they aren’t that divided after all! (Um, sorry Red Sox fans. I hope you like the books anyway!)

So what about you guys? Which team has your loyalty? It can be major leagues, minor leagues, or your son’s T-ball team.

And the Giveaway is still in effect:

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Baseball Monday: COVER REVEAL For Rainbow League Book 1

Baseball MondaysAre you ready? Do you want to see the lovely, gorgeous, amazing cover for the first Rainbow League book, The Windup?

Well, first, here’s the blurb:

Ian ran screaming from New York City upon graduating from high school. A job offer too good to turn down has brought him back, but he plans to leave as soon as the job is up. In the meantime he lets an old friend talk him into joining the Rainbow League, New York’s LGBT amateur baseball league. Baseball turns out to be a great outlet for his anxiety, and not only because sexy teammate Ty has caught his eye.

Ty is like a duck on a pond—calm and laid back on the surface, a churning mess underneath. In Ian, he’s found someone with whom he feels comfortable enough to share some of what’s going on beneath the surface. The only catch is that Ian is dead set on leaving the city as soon as he can. Ty works up a plan to convince Ian that New York is, in fact, the greatest city in the world. But when Ian receives an offer for a job overseas, Ty needs a new plan: convince Ian that home is where Ty is.

And now, THE COVER!

The Windup

I <3 it. I've put blurbs up for all 3 books on the Rainbow League page.

And it’s Monday, so don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Baseball Mondays: The First Pitch

Baseball MondaysI’m using the occasion of pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training later this week to launch a new blog feature: Baseball Mondays!

In part, this is a lead-in to the launch of my new series, The Rainbow League. It’s a series about a bunch of guys who play for an amateur league in New York City, and the first book will be out in April around the time the 2015 Major League season starts. It’s also a celebration of the greatest sport of all time. I mean… you guys were onto the fact that I’m a baseball fan, right? Right.

How this is going to work is that each week I’ll pick a topic, I’ll talk a bit about it, and then I’ll open it up to comments from you guys. Topics may range to which teams you root for, the teams from the book series, the characters, real-life baseball characters, baseball butts… who knows? I’ll run a Rafflecopter giveaway right up until the first book’s release in April, and one big winner will get the whole series as they’re released and a $25 gift card to the online book store of his or her choice. The Rafflecopter giveaway starts today—see the bottom of this post!

For the first Baseball Mondays post, I wanted to talk a little about optimism.

Here in New York, it’s mid-February and we’re suffering through a string of record-cold days and old snow that won’t melt. It’s the sort of weather that makes it feel like spring is very far off. But one of the things I like about the start of baseball Spring Training is that it means that, finally, spring is just around the corner! If pitchers and catchers are reporting, the rest of the team can’t be far behind, and before we know it, it will be April.

The fun thing about the beginning of a new baseball season, too, is that it’s a clean slate. What happened last year doesn’t matter. Lots of trading and drafting happened in the off-season, and the teams have been duly recalibrated. Who knows what the new season holds? This could be our year!

Do you have a favorite part of a new season? What about the spring in general? Are you looking forward to warmer weather? (I certainly am!)

Chat in the comments and enter the giveaway.

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