Memories and Statistics

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

Oh, baseball.

By Monte Dutton

Last night, Mitch Moreland struck out in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the Boston Red Sox trailing, 10-9. It was a wild pitch. The Cleveland catcher couldn’t handle it. Moreland reached first. Christian Vazquez hit a three-run homer, and the Red Sox won, 12-10.

Five of baseball’s better pitchers – both starters, Andrew Miller, both closers – failed.

Joe Garagiola wrote the book, and I read it. Baseball is a Funny Game.

A Red Sox-Yankees pennant race is on, and it’s August. Vazquez walked off – actually, he trotted around the bases, so, technically, a homer isn’t “walk off” – and Boston took a ½-game lead.

I had a wonderful time watching Stephen Colbert.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

All the football teams are practicing. Old football players watch and live vicariously. Practice fields. Old times there are not forgotten. Men who can’t run around anymore, who have to be careful when they walk, remember from a distance of four decades what it feels like.

They squint, lying on their backs, looking through a facemask, a scowling coach creating his own eclipse of the red-hot sun. They relive what it feels like to do what they no longer can. Now that they are men, they remember what it was like to become one. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the sweat. Maybe it’s the heat of the smell of the sweat.

Sports used to be about sensations. Now it is about statistics. On social media, people bombard the public with instantaneous numbers. Last night, when a homer won a game after a dropped third strike with two out, it was the first time since 1960. Someone tweeted that almost instantly.

Modern problem. Too much information.

 

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Another Leisurely Evening Writing of Sports

I don't mind watching the coin flip from a distance. (Monte Dutton photos)
I don’t mind watching the coin flip from a distance. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Clinton defeated Laurens, 34-29, on Friday night in my second game on the Greenwood Index-Journal sports beat. Six days earlier, it had taken two drives to Saluda for me to report in detail how the Strom Thurmond Rebels defeated the Saluda Tigers, 38-7.

Clinton's Tyreke Watts (61) and Tashymen Boyd (44) try to reach Laurens' Troy Dendy.
Clinton’s Tyreke Watts (61) and Tashymen Boyd (44) try to reach Laurens’ Troy Dendy.

The best part of writing about high school football is it’s back to the basics. It’s a gig where I am limited only by what I don’t see and deadlines. The worst part of writing about high-school football is also that it’s back to the basics.

Kris Evans-Williams
Kris Evans-Williams

The basics of love. Down in a Luchenbach, Texas, of the figurative mind. Or a hot press box and a steamy field, with a heap of steps in between. At this late stage of life, I never take them two at a time anymore.

Devin Hubner kicks.
Devin Hubner kicks. Bryson Payne holds.

Here’s a confession. I like writing on deadline. It’s more the art of the possible than politics, though it’s a little harder to make that point this year because barely possible events occur all the time.

High-school football is cleaner, though, personal fouls notwithstanding. Dirty tricks draw yellow hankies in football.

Andrew Webb
Andrew Webb

Not that anyone is as interested in how I write a story as the game about which I write, but I’ve already written about the game, which was a fine one. Not every game is a classic. If so, there’d be no such thing. How fondly this one will be remembered in Clinton, or reviled in Laurens, will depend on what happens to the two teams from here on out.

Writers typically wear lots of hats now, though the only one I had at Wilder Stadium was originated by the Asheville Tourists. I sometimes go partisan at the games but not partisan about the game. Oh, 30 years or so ago, I realized that the words of the coach wearing blue and red were more compelling if the fellow with the tape recorder wasn’t wearing black and gold.

After staring at it in various kinds of light, I’m still not sure which color the shirt I wore Friday night was. It has tiny stripes that are either white or gray. The base color is either navy or black. I think. Sometimes it looks ever so slightly greenish. Mainly, it’s dark.

It’s good to get this compelling discussion of attire out of the way.

This is how I covered the 84th football game between Clinton and Laurens that we know about.

I hung out in the parking lot and press box talking about the game and studying them a little. Only a little was required because I’d been watching them practice in various incarnations all summer.

DSCF3694

Down to the sideline carefully made I my way. I paid close attention to such matters as the inflation of the gigantic plastic simulation of a Clinton helmet that was at the end of a gigantic plastic tunnel that the Red Devils ran through, and milled about for what seemed like a long time within, before the game started.

The two bands collaborated on such uniting melodies as the national anthem. I appreciated their effort, in part because they played it in a key that enabled me to sing it myself with a modest degree of competency and range. I was mystified to see if the Raider band was still going to be lined up with the Red Devils when the Clinton team ran out through the a banner conveying an inordinate number of messages.

The LDHS band scurried safely away, with seconds to spare, leaving me room almost to get run over by the Clinton team because I was looking through a camera lens that made objects closer than they appeared.

Rookie mistake. Opening night. (I didn’t have to take photos in Saluda.)

DSCF3712
From left: KoKo Richey, Charlie Craven, Kris Holmes, Jishon Payne, and Zac Ray.

For most of the first quarter. I held up my camera and snapped a photo, then left the camera to hang around my neck while I scrawled something intelligent like:

1-10-27 10-11, +5, gd T by 17. Pursuit.

Then, when I felt confident that, out of 35 shots, or so, at least one would be suitable for publication. I started working my way back to the press box, slipping into an end seat (there weren’t many Friday night, but people tend to spread out a little in the non-reserved sections) after each play to scrawl something intelligent like:

2-5-32 9 le +3.

Then, 10 rows farther up:

3-2-35 10-22, shy, +1.

Staggering into the seat I had saved in the press box, I wiped my brow and scribbled:

4-1-36 punt 32.

For the remainder of the first half, I was continuing to record the plays while, at the same time, logging in the earlier plays on the coverage sheet I had downloaded from the World Wide Web! I mainly used that sheet alone the rest of the night, scrawling a little description in the margins.

Charlie Craven (10) and Donte Reeder (11)
Charlie Craven (10) and Donte Reeder (11)

I did the best I could. It was too hectic to be precise. When I looked at the statistics compiled by the teams the next day, it did not surprise me at all that Clinton quarterback Charlie Craven attempted one less pass – he was 14-of-20, not 14-of-21, as I had reported, and threw for 161 yards instead of the 149 I had quickly tallied – because, undoubtedly, at some point, I had forgotten to carry a “1.”

Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons

I packed everything in my handy backpack as the final seconds expired on the game. When I got to the field, I realized I had packed my camera, so I wedged the backpack against the chain-link fence and got the camera out. That way I could tape a video of Clinton coach Andrew Webb talking about the game to WPCC Radio’s Gene Simmons, and while I hated to eavesdrop on him, people routinely eavesdrop on me when I’m trying to interview someone, and I just couldn’t bring myself to interview Webb, or, for that matter, Laurens coach Chris Liner, while trying to look through a camera at the same time.

Laurens head coach Chris Liner
Laurens head coach Chris Liner

That’s where I draw the line.

It was 11 p.m. The deadline was midnight. My house was two miles away. I hoped a friendly policeman would help me facilitate my wild dash home, but noooooo. When I told him I was on deadline and in a hurry, I’m surprised he didn’t assign a fellow media-loving cop to give me a mandatory motorcade to Cross Anchor and back.

I’m exaggerating a bit. I shouldn’t ask for special treatment. Hundreds of the people driving home could have been on deadline. People are on Facebook, and they want to post their observations faster than anyone else, too. Then there’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat … I should be thankful I had so little to do.

I got to the house, fired up the laptop that I had left ready to run, and downloaded the photos and video. While the progress of the downloads (or perhaps they were uploads; I forget) was recorded in bands (of color, not music) streaking across the screen, I put on some coffee and groped for a lead.

Sincere Hunt
Sincere Hunt

Big play by someone named Sincere. Sincere Hunt. Like A Streetcar Named Desire. Sincere effort. Bingo.

I went back to the laptop and wrote just that lead graph. Then I picked out six photos that were promising and messed around with the light, tint, color, etc., saved them and emailed them to Greenwood.

Thirty minutes. At least 400 words. Those 30 minutes were spent writing, hurriedly referring to notes, and listening to the do-it-all instrument known as a cell phone. In this case, it was the voice-recorder subsidiary.

With five minutes to go, I hurriedly proofread to fix things like “the Clinton” because I had changed it from “Red Devils” and forgotten to remove “the.” Then I emailed the story to Greenwood and fetched the coffee. By coffee’s end, sleep wasn’t an option, so I watched California clobber Hawaii out west while looking at all the tweets and posts that students, fans and players had entered while I was occupied with 400 words.

I had foolishly planned on getting up early on Saturday to attend “Red Devil Rerun” at Whiteford’s, but it was at 8, and that’s when I awakened, and so I listened to it on radio and took down some notes that may be useful for advancing Clinton’s game next week in Greer.

Besides, I had to produce the video and post it on the Index-Journal’s YouTube page.

Once upon a time, I was just a writer.

Laurens QB Nathan Rutter completed five out of 13 attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Laurens QB Nathan Rutter completed five out of 13 attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown.
(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

 

With a Little Spit and Ink

(Photos by Monte Dutton)
(Photos by Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 13, 6:07 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I saw some genuine (pronounced JIN-u-INE) high school basketball in Laurens Friday night.

The Raiders pulled quite the upset in the boys’ game, charging back from 15 points down to upend Byrnes, 70-69.

The girls’ game was close, too, though the Rebels won it, 50-48. In one game, Byrnes hit a basket at the buzzer, and in the other, Laurens hit a pair of free throws, specifically, Chris Statom did, with 0.6 seconds on the clock, and won, 70-69.

LDHS would emerge triumphant in the boys' game.
LDHS would emerge triumphant in the boys’ game.

The football players are morphing into basketball players. Both Laurens and Clinton will be getting back players who have been on loan to the The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl: North vs. South – more commonly known as the North-South Game — played in Myrtle Beach on Saturday.

Chris Statom (4) popped a couple free throws to win it for the Raiders.
Chris Statom (4) popped a couple free throws to win it for the Raiders.

What has frustrated me about the high school basketball beat is the lack of statistics. The information from the scorebooks is pretty scarce. When I talk to a coach or player, he or she doesn’t know yet what his (or her) team shot, or how well it rebounded, or how many turnovers it had. Nowadays, many high school football teams distribute the statistics, often by email, within a half hour or so after the game is over.

When I go to these games, I have to take a few minutes, at least, to shoot a few photos to accompany the story. This limits my own ability to keep up with statistics.

LDHS girls' coach Yoneko Allen.
LDHS girls’ coach Yoneko Allen.

And, of course, there’s Twitter.

On Friday night at the Raiders’ gym, I decided to do something about it. The athletic director, Mark Freeze, set up a table for me in the balcony, and I tried to keep up with field goal attempts, rebounds, and turnovers on my trusty legal pad.

I sort of invented my plan as I went along, so I wound up taking notes – like “LDHS slows it down; catches breath” or, “3rd lead change in last 2 mins.” — on the backs of one stack of pages while I was keeping a tally of the aforementioned statistics on the legal pad.

I decided I would take photos at the beginning of the third quarter in both games. How would I keep statistics then?

Laurens' Ty Madden.
Laurens’ Ty Madden.

I kept a cheat sheet.

While on the floor, I kept stats by tallying with my right hand on the back of my left wrist. Then during a timeout, I scrambled back up the stairs and added the tallies to the legal pad.

I licked my thumb and wiped off the ink on my wrist as if it were a tiny chalkboard and repeated the process in the girls’ game.

Miraculously, it worked pretty well.

 

Here’s the story, by the way: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22437-statom-s-2-free-throws-ices-raiders-69-68-win-over-byrnes

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Would you like to read a crackerjack novel about a Kentucky football coach who loses everything and reinvents himself in unconventional ways? It’s called Crazy of Natural Causes, and you can download it here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

The Intangibles is a story of a small town coming to grips with civil rights, integration and high school football back in the late 1960s. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1HNNH0T6RKW6NDWY74VE

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

The Audacity of Dope is the story of Riley Mansfield, an ex-college football player turned pot-smoking songwriter, forced into being a hero during a presidential election year. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=1Y7E0YCT51MX29ZA7RFM

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Pretty early next year, my fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out. It, like Crazy of Natural Causes, is an Amazon KindleScout winner.