Striking Out, Looking


I’ve recently several sin-able opportunities that I have not taken. And the not sinning feels like the first novel I ever attempted to write. Its title was Striking Out Looking.

In softball and baseball, striking out looking is the equivalent of an unpardonable sin. You don’t do it. You go down swinging… that’s forgivable. Even going down swinging at a terrible pitch is forgivable. However, right before I gave up softball, I was thinking about how wise it is in life to be willing to occasionally watch strike three go by. Recently, I was given some advice that mirrors that idea of just letting a pitch go by, and it reminded me of that tension between what feels right, and what actually is right.

My novel was about teenage love, so, of course it was cliché and overdone, so don’t judge me my over-romatic premise here. High school sweethearts are heading off to college, and boy has bought the ring. He loves her and doesn’t want to lose her… and yet, right on the edge of the proposal, he realizes that if he really loves her, he has to let her go. So… he let’s the pitch go by and she moves away, ending their romance forever.

Tragic. Dramatic.

I know.

But I liked examining that feeling of intentionally not going after something, because it’s not always right to knock that pitch out of the park.

Just now, I had one such moment.

There’s a man who I want, and maybe God talked me into quitting my job to get away from him, and I’m trying to move on because he’s not a Christian, and therefore strictly off-limits.

Just now, though, there was this thing I was reading, that would have been the greatest quote I could ever send him. It would be so clever. It alludes to some inside jokes we have going. It’s basically the most brilliant thing I’ve ever come across.

Also, I sooooo love texting people quotes. I love quotes.

But. I. Can’t. Text. This. One.

I can’t.

It’s a terrible pitch for me to go after. I’d knock it out of the park, for sure.

But I had to let it go, which should make me feel incredibly proud, probably, because I don’t think most people would let this one go. But I don’t feel proud much at all. I’m just sad, because it’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten to take a legit swing at a pitch.

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The Guys I Fall For


English: New York Yankees Derek Jeter batting ...

English: New York Yankees Derek Jeter batting against the Baltimore Orioles during a baseball game Thursday, June 28, 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allow me to be a giddy school girl for a moment, and mention the current situation in my life… I’m surrounded by eligible bachelors who seem to be considering me.

Normally, I’d keep this kind of thing to myself for fear of “jinxing” it, but after 28 years of not finding “the one” and not writing about it on the interwebs, I’m forced to admit that my blogging or not blogging probably doesn’t have much to do with finding someone or not finding him. 🙂

So… I’d like to give you a list of the cliche cast, and then tell why I’m so horribly disappointed in myself. 🙂

1. The good guy friend… This one sits next to me in church and we carpool to bible study together. He’s outdoorsy, but not athletic. He’s smart, but doesn’t have the great job. He’s super easy to talk to, and yet he’s also the sort of boy who you want to fall for, but somehow never do.

2. The one with the guitar… This one is the worship leader. He’s the downtown, feed the homeless type, who hasn’t quite decided to grow up yet. Sometimes he goes to college; sometimes he works with YoungLife (because he has a heart for the kiddos); Sometimes he helps with his parents’ vineyard/wine bar business; sometimes he works at Starbucks.

3. The one I’ve got butterflies for… I like to think that I’m the girl who chooses the good friend. Evidently , I’m not. Here’s the story…

I let one of the girls at church talk me into joining her slow-pitch team. It’s generally my policy to flee from softball like a bat out of hell (notice the lame pun there), but I occasionally wonder if I’ve gotten past my past yet, and I give it another try. I told her no two or three times, and then I gave in. Last night was my first practice with the team.

Usually, I can’t handle slow-pitch because no one knows what they’re doing, very few of the men who play are better than I am (and, believe it or not, I really want them to be), and the games are usually at a field that’s at least 40 mins away from where I live.

Last night, when I got to practice, I was pleasantly surprised to find that at least two of the guys are far superior to me on the field. One of them is the husband of the girl who talked me into playing and the other is a guy I met about six months ago when he moved here. He grew up in a missionary family, and with his family somewhere overseas, it seemed like a good idea to move to a city where he knew some other missionary kids (who I also know).

On first sight, I thought Caleb was pretty interesting, mostly because of the ultra-visible tattoo of a cross on his neck (not as weird as it sounds) and the St. Louis Cards gear he was wearing. Upon talking to him, I found him to be a little less interesting because he’s soooooo quiet. He responds when you ask him questions, but he doesn’t do much else. He just stands there and smiles.

Last night, though, I was completely caught off-guard by his athletic prowess. You see, there are two types of good athletes: there’s the type who looks really awkward as he gets the job done (Randy Johnson), and there’s the type who is poetry, like Jeter.

Caleb is Jeter. NAY! Caleb is smoother than Jeter.

I was playing first, and he was at short, and he was so freaking smooth it was unbelievable. And he throws HARD. And his throws are almost always catchable. And he has the confident, but humble athlete posture/stance. You know – the one where you have to wonder how someone can look so athletic while standing still.

Also, he gets wherever he’s supposed to be. You can build an okay slow-pitch team without anyone knowing their positions beyond how to get the out at first. Of course, you can’t execute anything fancy like double plays, but who really cares? It’s slow-pitch, right?

I care!

So… I’m at first base, and we’re turning 2, and all I’m thinking is, “My gosh, why doesn’t he talk more? I could totally be in love with this guy if I knew he had a brain and some thoughts.”

Then, we switched over to batting practice and when he got up to bat, he was even more like Jeter! He didn’t blow you away with how he just kept hitting it over our heads (which guys sometimes do in slow-pitch because it’s the easiest way for them to feel awesome). Caleb, however, wasn’t showing off like that. He was hitting line drives up the middle, which only end up being singles, but I hate guys who try for the home run. Sure, sometimes you just hit home runs because you’re trying to hit the ball hard, but trying for the home run is like, “Hey, look at me! I’m strong!” Whereas, hitting the single is like, “I’m just doing my job.”

Also, in slow-pitch, you can pretty much direct the ball to wherever you want it to go regardless of where it’s pitched, but in baseball and fast-pitch softball, the pitcher determines which way you’re usually going to hit it; outside pitches go to the right side and inside ones go to the left side. However, cocky, lazy players ignore where it’s pitched and tend to strike out a lot. Caleb was hitting almost everything up the middle (because the pitches were dead-center…but then he hit one to the right side.

“Sorry,” he said (because we didn’t have enough fielders to have anyone covering over there). The pitcher made some sort of teasing joke like, “Whatever, jerk,” and Caleb was all, “You have to admit, it was a good job going with the pitch, though.”

And that’s when I got giddy-stupid. He was so used to doing it right, that he couldn’t keep himself from going with the pitch. That means that he isn’t a cocky, lazy hitter. He’s the type who learns to do it right!

I wish I was the kind of girl that didn’t care how attractive it is for a guy to make a diving catch, but I am that girl. And it is attractive. I love it when a player go 4 for 4 with two doubles, a single and a home run, then swaggers off the field like it’s no big deal. I thought I was past this, and I thought I could go for a tiny guy who writes poetry and can’t run a mile without stopping to take a break, but there’s something a bit too heart-stopping and shiver-inducing about an athlete. I can’t help it. 🙂

The Culture of Critique and the Value of the Fanny Pat


Softball bat Français : Softball

Softball bat Français : Softball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wouldn’t say I’m a conflict avoider at all, but if something is bothering me about another person or my interactions with him/her, I work through my part of it alone, and usually don’t bring anything up to the other person. I don’t approach anyone and say that they’ve hurt me or were wrong, and I certainly never bring up anything anyone’s done that’s just annoying.

This comes from being softball Katie for a bit too long, and I recognize that it isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes, it’s good and necessary to talk to others about how they’ve wronged us. In softball, though, it’s a move that’s rarely good and never necessary.

Some of you remember my softball days, but most of you don’t, so you’ll need some context. I was a pitcher, which means that if I made more than a few small mistakes in a game, we lost. If I made one big mistake, we lost… so I got good at not making many mistakes and certainly not making big ones, and eventually, most of the losses on my record could be attributed to teammate error. That’s pretty common once you reach a certain level of play, and it tends to create two types of pitchers: the diva and the leader.

I decided early on not to be a diva, and I made it my mission to always encourage my teammates, regardless of the impact their errors had on my stats or our team’s record. To me, pointing out the error is a jackass move. It’s the opposite of classy. It’s the opposite of humble. It’s the opposite of what a team player (or a friend) does.

If a friend makes an error, I see it as my job to pat her on the Fanny and tell her to knock the crap out of the ball in her next at-bat. Because I’m not the coach. It’s not my job to make her a better player. It IS my job to make good pitches, move runners over and encourage my teammates… and trust that Coach is doing his job and Teammate is doing hers… and even with all of us doing our best, we still lose games.

Now, if Teammate is intentionally throwing games, that’s another story. If she’s trying to strike out, overthrow first, and pop-up her bunt… then we have a problem and I should probably say something, but that’s rarely the situation. Most errors occur when a player is trying really hard to do her job well.

Now, even though I don’t play softball anymore, life has recently (over the past couple of years) made me to feel like that player whose teammates constantly critique. As an athlete, it’s fine for just about everyone to critique everyone. Wins and losses get published in the paper, coaches scout each others’ pitchers looking for weaknesses to exploit…

But no one is allowed to critique a teammate. Critiquing a teammate takes a lot of gall.

————————————

Awhile back, I wrote several posts about friendship, and specifically about how to choose friends.

Wording it that way seems pretty horrible.

It seems arrogant.

It seems mean-spirited.

It seems cold-hearted.

I used to be that girl who was constantly looking for things to do on Friday nights. I used to sit at home reading Y: The Last Man or writing silly books that I’d never even consider publishing.

And I would have given anything for a few friends.

ANY friends.

But as I move forward and find that there are a few people who’d be okay spending their Friday nights with me… I’m also discovering the kind of friend I want and want to be. I’m realizing that it’s more damaging to spend time with someone who points it out every time I throw a rise ball that doesn’t rise, than it is to be alone.

And it hurts more than being alone.

I’ve written before about how “it’s better to live on the corner of a roof than in a house with a contentious woman,” and I’ve heard pastors make jokes of it… but as I’m thinking about it now, I’m not finding it all that funny… just like Teammate probably doesn’t think it’s funny when she overthrows first in the semi-finals of state, and someone who really should just pat her on the fanny says, “You just lost the game for us.”

In that post about living on the roof, I wrote the following… It must be really bad to live with some women. The only way it could be that bad is if it really damages a man for a woman to always pick fights with him. It must cripple, debilitate, degrade, dehumanize and in all sorts of other ways wreak havoc on his heart. 

And now, as I’m thinking about the friends I chose several years ago, and the way no small error escapes rebuke, I realize that far too many haven’t learned that it’s a jackass move to point out unintentional errors, and that they aren’t the ones to sanctify.

Something that struck me about the last chapter of Boenhoffer’s Life Together was when he wrote that we ought only to confess to brothers our concrete sins. I thought that was odd, considering all the verses in the Bible about sins of the heart, but as I think of it now, I wonder if he wasn’t writing about something very true.

Living in a culture of critique is horribly distressing. It leads to uncertainty, depression and loneliness. It makes it impossible for a person to know what to say or where she fits, and it overemphasizes those imperfections and sins humanity can’t escape, but must be rescued from. It leads us to believe that the truly awesome player must point out errors, yet never make any of her own. It robs us of the fanny pat, and teaches friends to attend to each other’s tasks rather than their own… which is to make good pitches, move runners over and pat fannies, even when they’ve cost us our dreams.

*Thanks to Steve and Lori for a long conversation that helped me figure out my thoughts on this one. 😉

Wounded


Way back on August 23, 2010, I published the following blog post. As I’m in North Carolina right now, I thought it might be nice to revisit the things I wrote more than a year ago, in my first few months of blogging. This piece is one that isn’t very well-written, but made me feel affectionately stirred towards my Savior nonetheless. Since writing this, I believe God has restored some of my brokenness to full functionality. Enjoy!

……………….

At church, we’ve been going through Acts, and there was a lovely sermon a couple of weeks ago on the fourth chapter and Peter’s road to completeness.  Pastor Mike started out with going over the overall plan and path for God’s children.

Creation

Fall

Redemption

Restoration

Seems pretty basic, right?  I thought I knew what I ought to have known about all of this when the sermon started.  I went through and got definitions for redemption and restoration to make sure that I knew the difference.  My Bible says that redemption has to do with “buying back” or “delivering” while restoration has to do with “reestablishing” or “replacing.”  These might not seem all that different in the big scheme of things, and they even go hand-in-hand a lot of the time, but I’m learning how hard it is to walk all the way through all of these pieces.

There are several events in my life that I consider to be HUGE falls.  Of course there’s the original sin fall, but I stumble pretty much every few minutes, and some of those stumbles haunt me kind of a lot.  The two that haunt me most often are idol worship with softball and my time with Dirtbag Jason.  Both of these falls happened forever ago in my life (more than 5 years for each) but the pain & guilt I experience from them are fresh.

A few weeks ago, Roommate Amy and I were talking, and she asked me, “Don’t you think you beat yourself up over this stuff a little too much.”

“Probably,” was my answer.

“Don’t you think that God has forgiven you?”

“Well, of course… I know that He’s forgiven me, but that doesn’t make me feel like everything is peachy.”

I didn’t know it when Amy and I were talking, but we were having a conversation about the difference between redemption and restoration.  I don’t mind letting God redeem me.  I know that I’ve messed up.  I know that just as Peter denied Christ, I denied Him – not verbally – but in my actions and thoughts.  I asked God to forgive me, and I believe that He did, but that isn’t the end.  God gives us more than just forgiveness.  He gives us restoration.  He makes us complete again.

In chapter 4 of Acts, God grants Peter this amazing opportunity to stand before the very same people he stood before in John 18, but this time show how God had restored him.  Annas and Caiaphas are there both times when Peter is questioned about Jesus.  In John 18, he denies his Savior.  There’s the fall.

In John 21, Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him.  Those three times mirror the three times that Peter denied Him.  After Peter tells Jesus that he does love Him, Jesus tells him to tend His sheep.  Jesus not only forgives Peter, but uses him.  Then, to put an exclamation point on Peter’s restoration, he gets to stand before the same men, under similar circumstances as his fall, but this time, Peter proclaims the gospel.  God uses him to do that which he was incapable of doing.

The slow work of Christ on my heart has been indescribable.  The people closest to me have gently encouraged me, yet pointed out my flaws (in particular my fierce ungentle side), and I’ve grown and changed so that I’m a completely different person from that girl who hated giving up softball for God, then replaced softball with attention from a man rather than love from a Savior.  I hate that I ever went those directions in my past, but maybe it’s time to let God restore those pieces of me.

I don’t know if what I’ve written here makes much sense or flows very well, but Peter’s story and the way Mike talked about it touched those wounded pieces of my heart that I’ve let God forgive me for and even clean up a bit… but never let him restore to full usefullness.

I Accidentally Had the Exact Night I Needed


For those of you who don’t know, the story of my life is softball. For a decade, I planned to make it my everything, and gave it up when I found out there was a better everything.

Giving it up was the hardest decision of my life.

And the best.

________________________________________

Tonight (Saturday), I was planning on trying out a new (ish – I’ve been there once before) church. I looked the church up online, and headed over to where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there.

They never showed.

I don’t really get upset about things like that, so I got back in my car and decided to get Panda Express, a movie, and some dark chocolate gelato and have a night to myself.

The movie I picked out was called How Do You Know. I was pretty sure it was a romantic comedy. It has Reese Witherspoon and two guy actors (I’m never up to date on celebrities) who’re the love interests. Jack Nicholson is in it too.

So… the movie starts out by introducing us to Reese Witherspoon’s character, who is an Olympian second baseman. They had real Olympic softball players in a few of the scenes (which was awesome), and they showed a little bit of actual softball stuff.

*Of course the critic in me hated that they had a second baseman covering 3rd in infield drills and that she answered her phone in the middle of it… AND that her bag was on the third base line, AND that the third baseman was wearing knee pads (doesn’t happen much after junior high and certainly not at practice).

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…

The thing that made it hard to quit playing softball was that I truly had made it my everything. Right before I quit, I blocked out my days, and I was spending 7 hours a day practicing, weight-lifting, conditioning, pitching, and doing extra BP. The only non-softball stuff I did was attend classes, but the coaches would even make appearances there to check in and make sure I was where I was supposed to be. Forget that I’d graduated high school with multiple AP credits. Of course writing 101 was going to trip me up. Yeah, I’m still a little bitter about how student-athletes get babied academically. By the way, my advisor tried to talk me out of taking Physics my freshman year because most student athletes can’t handle such a difficult class. In case you were wondering, I got an ‘A’ just to spite her. Some of the other girls were ineligible, so I get why they treated me like a moron, but still.

Anyways, quitting softball was weird, because I didn’t have anything else.

I had to (or possibly got to) completely redefine myself.

Which is mostly scary and a little awesome.

In the movie, Reese Witherspoon is cut from the Olympic team because of age… and she has to redefine herself.

Beyond the funny things Witherspoon says and does that are totally athlete things – like when she controls her emotions, when she directly communicates things that women are rarely direct about, when she analyzes her actions and can’t stop trying to improve, when she wants the guy who’s going to be insensitive (not just chooses him, but chooses him for his insensitivity), when she talks about marriage and kids as if she could take them or leave them, etc… – beyond those things that I say and do just like her, I really just related to her mourning the loss of more than just something she loved… mourning the loss of herself,

because she knew she’d never be that person again, and she had to throw herself completely into whatever person she would be for the future.

_______________________________________

I’m sort of redefining myself right now.

And I’m not as scared as I was when I quit softball, because I’ve had a few redefining moments since then, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that there’s a little fear here.

I was at my church for 6 years.

And I throw myself at God as completely as I threw myself at softball, the context of which for the past 6 years has been my Crossing church

with the same 15 faces for years.

And as much as people keep saying that we’re still friends…

I know they’re wrong.

I don’t hang out with a single softball player anymore.

Granted, it’s been 7 years since I quit, but every single one of them said we’d still be friends.

And some of us were for awhile, but it takes serious effort to maintain a friendship, and some of my church friends and I will make that effort, but most won’t.

It’ll happen slowly. Just as redefining oneself happens slowly.

But it will happen.

People who were SO important… people who were my family…

will cease to fill my life.

And even though it hurts,

it’s okay.

I promise.

______________________________________________

One last thought: (Reese Witherspoon’s character said this)

“I don’t know if I have what it takes for everybody’s regular plan.”

That’s the thing about redefining self – most people redefine themselves as they hit those next steps in everyone’s normal plan. Husband/wife, mommy/daddy, the next rung on the corporate ladder, etc…

I don’t know if I have what it takes for everybody’s regular plan.

So maybe my plan isn’t going to be the regular one.

Also okay. But scary.

Stuff, Junk and More Stuff


So…

(For those of you who haven’t noticed, I like to start posts as if we’ve been chatting for a few minutes already and just need a nice segue into the next topic)

So…

some stuff, junk and more stuff that’s been on my mind.

1. The church search is the primary thing on my mind right now. It seems like everyone asks me what I’m thinking about it, and up until Monday or so, I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I didn’t have a plan. I was a feather in a hurricane. So…

  • I prayed and read my bible A LOT
  • I waited
  • I sought wise counsel, hoping to be told to wait some more (sometimes, I’m a big fan of waiting). However, the people I talked to confirmed the things I felt God whispering.
  • I’ve visited other churches while still attending the one my own church merged with. I’ll probably try to visit at least 2 more, but I think I’ve found the one I’m going to end up at. It is known as Small Church here at STILL GROWING, although its real-life name is Holy Cross. Here’s a link to their website and blog, and here’s a link to the post I wrote after my first encounter with Pastor Pete. Feel free to check up on my choice and tell me that you think their beliefs are heretical or that you hate me and think I’m making the worst mistake of my life. It’s not too late for me to turn back 🙂 In all honesty, though, I think this little church is amazing and Godly, and I’m excited that God put Pastor Pete at the table next to me when He did.
  • I listened to this sermon that simultaneously encouraged me to be exactly what God made me to be for the growth and health of the body, and it convicted me for desperately wanting to “date the church” for a little while so I won’t have to take that first bold step.

2. I’ve hit a bit of a road block in revisions; I don’t know enough about one of my peripheral characters. Therefore, I’m going to spend some time brainstorming, journaling as this character to find her voice, creating playlists for her, drawing her, and creating characters on my favorite video games that resemble her (weird, I know). I’m still planning to query SOON, though. So if you’re one of my readers, you should be expecting the revised version of the first half soon. Also, I think it might be a good idea to write some posts here about publishing.

3. It’s almost July again and time for me to host the Gospel Marathon. For those of you who don’t know, The Gospel Marathon is an evening of reading the gospels. I get a group of friends together, and we read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in one night. It takes about 7 hours (if you don’t take any breaks) and everyone takes turns reading. It’s one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had, because it puts God’s word front and center, it doesn’t require any special knowledge or training to implement, and it is one of the simplest, most unencumbering ways to experience God. You can read my original post about it by clicking here and I’ll put more stuff together for you as we approach July.

4. I might stop posting on Fridays. For awhile now, I’ve been backing off on posts by throwing in a reblog, a quote, or a video once a week. Posting every weekday takes a lot of time and dedication, and is really important when building a blog from the ground up. However, STILL GROWING is a little more established than it was a year ago and I’d like to take back some of my time for fictioning.

5. I’m still running. I haven’t blogged about it lately, but I’m running about twice a week and plan to run my second half-marathon in December (I think that’s when the Tucson Marathon is) and I’ll hopefully also be running my first full in January at P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’m looking forward to next year’s Ragnar, which was my favorite race ever. Feel free to join me for training. Right now, I’m just maintaining and trying not to get fat. 🙂 I’m doing short (3 mile) runs at about a 10-minute pace. I am, however, running in the hot Tucson midday because I’m too lazy to get out of the house before 10 am, and having too much fun in the evenings to run after 4:00 pm

Peace out, homies.

A Line-up of the Greats


I read a post on another blog awhile back, and it SO fit ME! It was basically a lineup of authors just like a baseball/softball lineup. So… I decided to put my own lineup together. 🙂 I’t’s completely subjective, and there were no rules. Here it is:

1. Leading off and playing center field, we’ve got my current love affair… Suzanne Collins. Even though there are plenty of authors who have better form and durability, there’s just something about Collins that manages to get on base every time. She always makes contact, and you can’t ask a lot more out of a lead-off hitter. She probably won’t have the steady career a number 5 hitter has, but right now, she’s getting the job done.

2. Batting second, playing second is the master of modern horror… Stephen King. He cranks out work that gets the job done, which is what batting second is all about. His good form and consistency may not make him the flashiest player around, but a manager always knows what to expect from him.

3. George Orwell is catching and batting in the three-spot. With such hard-hitting tales as 1984 and even “Shooting an Elephant”, one can’t but place Orwell in the heart of the lineup. With the flexibility to write both novels and short stories, he makes an ideal battery-mate for any pitcher and the perfect hitter for pressure-packed moments at the plate.

4. Joseph Heller bats clean-up for us and plays left field. He shocked the heck out of us with the home-run that was Catch-22, but he’s definitely not the kind of hitter we’d expect to see consistent singles from. He’s in the line-up for one reason: to occasionally knock it out of the park.

5. Designated Hitter – J.K. Rowling Capable of going yard, but with a poise under pressure and a reliability we might not see from the four-spot, Rowling is the one we expect to come through (and come through big) when no one else can. She’s the one we turn to when the whole team is in a slump, and we can’t bear to face another disappointment from those players everyone keeps raving about… but never quite satisfy. She’s the one who always exceeds our expectations.

6. In right field, batting sixth… Frances Hodgson Burnett. At first look, Burnett may seem better suited to the AAA farm team, but in reality, she’s one of those players who helps everyone around her grow up just a little bit. She encourages her teammates and teaches us to believe that even in the middle of a crappy season, the pennant is just around the corner, and cinderella stories happen more often than we know. We don’t expect shock and awe from Burnett, but we trust that with her on the team, all of the other players will grow into maturity and the atmosphere in the dugout will be brighter for having her around.

7. E.E. Cummings bats seventh for us and plays 3rd base. He might have ridiculous form, but something about him draws success. It’s not pretty, but he gets the job done. He’s also our lone poet, which requires a scrappiness and stubborn nonconfomity you can’t find in the delicate wanderings of a Frost.

8. Playing 1st base and batting eighth, we have Arthur Miller. In every lineup, there needs to be diversity. He may not quite fit in with all of the novelists in our lineup, but every team needs a good playwright, and especially one who can remind us when we’ve gotten off track and are fighting amongst ourselves rather than our true opponents. He also brings us some much-needed publicity with pretty Marilyn sitting in the stands and supporting her hubby.

9. Filling out the bottom of the lineup, we’ve got Nicholas Sparks playing short. He’s certainly not an all-star, but every team needs that guy who is good but not great. With predictable plots and a softness the other guys lost to the steroids, Sparks quietly achieves an average in the .200 – .250 range, with only a few errors at short and quite a few double-plays thanks to his talent for smooth swiftness.