I always thought that you could add -pocalypse any noun and it would make things really awesome. If you burn the pancakes? It's a breakfast-pocalypse! Run out of beer during the game? It's a beer-pocalypse. If the Spurs nearly blow a 24 point lead on their way to a gritty win, and it's a near Spurs-pocalypse.
At least I thought so, until my editor asked me to fix it. I calmed the story down and tried to find my inner Joe Friday: "Just the facts, ma'am." The goal on Final Score recaps is to get the story out within 20 minutes after the end of the game--but with all of my difficulties, it took me 35, which was just too slow. What really slowed me down was that I had to rethink the original story, the one I already had written in my head, as the Spurs did something completely unexpected--they played poorly for most of a half until the Nuggets got close. But then Tim Duncan showed why he's the best player in the modern age of basketball, and he carried the team on his back to a close, hard-fought win.
My career on Pounding the Rock started just a few days ago, when I was reading a game preview and read a comment from a reader who noticed that the gametime listed on the preview was incorrect. I also noticed that the date listed was incorrect, and the widget that showed the game info was somehow loading data from the wrong game. Pounding the Rock is a fan site, but the quality of the articles is well beyond some professional sites. It was out-of-place to have an incorrect game time listed on an otherwise excellent game preview.
So I navigated to the masthead and found the author of the piece and emailed him about the error. He emailed me back and said he couldn't correct it, so I went back to the masthead and found the G.M.: J.R. Wilco, and asked him if he could fix the preview. After a little back-and-forth, the time and date were corrected, and everything was good. We were done, or so I thought.
For the rest of the day, Wilco kept messaging me, asking me about my background and experience. I didn't exactly know what he was getting at, but he's a fun guy to talk with so it was an interesting conversation. I'm a programmer by profession, and I mostly worked for the Texas Legislature developing the systems they used for redistricting. It was a non-partisan position, and while there was no explicit prohibition against social media, because of the political sensitivity of the job it was very risky to put anything out on social media that said anything about your work. And since I was working pretty long hours, there wouldn't be much else for me to write about.
But a few months ago, I took retirement from the state at the ripe old age of 57 and since then I have been having a terrific time. I've been traveling and sleeping late and I finally got Facebook and Twitter accounts. I started thinking about some other things I wanted to do with my life, and one thing I wanted to do more was to write. I've written some science fiction short stories and character studies, but I needed a kick in the pants to get more serious about it. Working on your own, you can get only so good, to really improve your game, you need to work with a coach and get feedback on what you need to do and change to get better. This applies to writing, basketball, and almost everything else worthwhile you can do in life.
So, after all of this conversation, most of the day is gone, and Wilco tells me that he has an assignment for me. The game against the Kings starts at 8:00 and it's 7:57. Wilco wants me to write the morning rehash for the game. I have 3 minutes to get ready to start writing about the game. It's a little intimidating to suddenly be on the front page of Pounding the Rock. There are so many good writers that write here. And the knowledge of basketball is off-the-charts impressive. Almost every article will make you either laugh or teach you about basketball. Usually both at the same time. I gain a lot of insight into how the game is played and how players develop by reading articles on PTR. PTR is an excellent resource for learning more about how the game of basketball is played and the why San Antonio Spurs organization is so good at it.
But the what's most impressive about PTR isn't just the article writers, it's the entire community. The Spurs have fans all over the world who get up at all hours to watch and comment on the game. There are commenters from the Philippines, France, Italy and most European countries. Many of them are not native English speakers, but they all know basketball and love the Spurs. I learn more about basketball from reading game thread comments at PTR than I have ever learned by watching TV commentators talk about it during the game. Plus, I get my fill of TWSS's for the week.
So, foolishly, I said yes to Wilco's request, and I wrote the rehash for the next morning. The game was unexpectedly sloppy, and I had difficulty coming up with a narrative that fit. I was up until 3 am compiling facts and putting them together into the semblance of a story. Wilco suggested a tagline for the story, and I ran with that: Eye of the Beholder. I think that it turned out rather well for a first effort.
I was now the Othyus Jeffers of PTR. The coach had called me in when the team was short handed, and despite not really knowing the system and having as much native talent as many of the other players, I was able to put in a workmanlike effort and help the team where needed. I've been helping out with editing ever since and done another game preview. Well, it was mostly an extended pun masquerading as an article, based on an idea that Wilco sent to me, and that I ran with. The image that David McGinnis created for the piece really made it work. I believe the DayeQuil meme might be with us for a while. Last night, I wrote another quick recap, and I was able to turn it around in less than 20 minutes, and I'm starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of things.
I have a feeling that Wilco might bring me back for a second 10-day contract. I think if I stick with it, I might really improve my game and become a valued member of the team. And even if I can't stick, the experience has been great and I've learned a lot. Despite being really busy with the site and his family, J.R. has taken the time to work with me on writing and editing and I'm learning to put together readable articles more quickly. He's a good coach. Not Gregg Popovich good, but nobody is.
I would encourage anyone who has any interest in writing and who loves sports and especially the Spurs to start writing fanposts and share your talents with the Pounding the Rock community. It's a great way to learn and improve your writing, and it's just so amazing and gratifying reading all of the feedback you get from your fellow pounders.
And follow me on Twitter. Most of my tweets are pretty boring, but they aren't all that frequent, so you won't be bored all that often. [Ed. Note: This last bit was a joke, I've only been on Twitter about a week, and my posts aren't that exciting, but if you want to follow me, I'd appreciate it.]