Dodgers 7, Pirates 3, beat writers 0

This was a great, great ballgame, and if you’re somebody who lives hundreds of miles from a major-league ballpark and only get to go to one or two games a year (that was me growing up) and this happened to be one of them, well, what a night to remember. For a beat writer, well, I tried to enjoy the slowly building tension and the atmosphere and the fact the people above us on the reserved level were stomping their feet so hard that the press box was actually shaking (it’s a common phenomenon in a lot of stadiums). But I also had those pesky deadlines to deal with. At approx. 9:45, I completed an 18-inch story detailing how the Dodgers had lost 3-2 because Brad Penny couldn’t find the strike zone in the third inning. That story was due at 10 p.m. All I had to do at that point was wait for the game to end and file the story. Except a funny thing happened. At exactly 9:59, Wilson Valdez crossed the plate with the tying run. So I changed the DODGERS LOSE story to a PARTIAL story with the score tied 3-3 in the ninth, changed all the DIDS to MIGHT HAVES, took out the records of the Dodgers and what would have been the winning and losing pitchers and sent it in, even though it still read like a DODGERS LOSE story because it was all about Penny’s bad inning. My story for the later edition, which most of you in the Valley will get tomorrow, was due at 11:15. So, even as the game went to the 10th, I had to formulate an angle and start writing, despite not having a clue as to how it would turn out. At that point, the most important thing that had happened, in my view, was the eight-pitch walk that Andre Ethier had drawn to lead off the ninth inning. So I began building a story around that, throwing in the historical trivia that Ethier had been a bat boy for the 1993 Phoenix Firebirds, a team for which Salomon Torres pitched, and later that year Torres was the guy who blew up on the final day of the season at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers knocked the 103-game-winning Giants out of that year’s playoffs, and that Ethier had now faced Torres with the game on the line and had that great plate appearance against him. Russell Martin then hits his walkoff grand slam at exactly 10:40. So, with my story largely written around Ethier’s walk, I run to the clubhouse, grab some quick quotes from Grady and Russ Martin and wait for Ethier to come out of the shower. When he finally did, I apologized for not waiting until he got dressed and explained to him that I had a very tight deadline, and he graciously answered my one question while wearing only a towel around his waist.I thanked him, ran back upstairs, got here at 11, re-topped the story with a one-paragraph reference to Martin’s homer, then went right into the body of the story which was all about Ethier, then added some standard stuff (records, winning and losing pitchers etc.) at the bottom, and filed at 11:17 (I HOPE my bosses will forgive me for the extra two minutes), then sat back in my chair, took a long, deep breath while my heart pounded in my chest, and suddenly remembered why I love this job so much. Hope I didn’t bore you with all this. See ya bright and early tomorrow.

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