29 For 29

Sure, it’s a play on one of my favorite reoccurring sports series by ESPN. Hard hitting, unvarnished truth. It’s a reminder of why sports-related novels are few and far between – sports truths are dramatic enough presented as non-fiction.

Shadow Copy thumbnailIn this case, 29 represents the reviews written about my college football-based sports novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, AND, after a little over two years, the match – 29 reviews reflecting opinions about my second novel, The Lost Lantern, a  Myrtle Beach-Murrells Inlet-based tale of racial harmony and good over evil in the form of racial bigotry.

Hard-hitting, faced-paced plots are the goal for my novels. They haven’t been Michael Johnson out of the blocks, but as I put the finishing touches on my third, I feel The Lost Lantern picked up momentum over the summer in sales and perception, with a  4.9 average out of five stars. Here are some of the opinions rendered:

Lantern ThumbMRE4 – I didn’t want the story to end… August 21, 2019

The setting of this story made it the perfect book to read while vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area. The character development was so good that I found myself feeling angry and deeply rooting for the “underdog.” By the time I got to the last third of the book I couldn’t put it down because I was so engrossed in the storyline that I needed to know what was going to happen with the characters I had grown to love. I finished the final 100 pages on the road trip home. Really great read. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

A page turner from beginning to end! August 8, 2019

I loved the characters and the settings. From West Virginia to the low country of South Carolina. My favorite character was William and the story of the Lost Lantern.

Bandit – Fantastic surprises await! July 19, 2019

Spradling’s masterfully crafted characters in the accurately depicted Myrtle Beach of the 1980’s are intricately woven into a web I could not put down. I literally shouted expletives out loud at one point, then was amused at how attached I was to the people and the storyline. It really delivers as a great read of many facets: a love story, crime, murder mystery, and more! This is one you’ll suggest to your friends!

W.McCallister – Very addictive story. July 7, 2019

Very interesting and detailed story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
I love the way all of the characters are so entwined.
Several unexpected twists were very creative.

A.F. – Great summer read! June 12, 2019

Great summer read. Good story with many sub plots that come together nicely. Really good character building. Enjoyed the twists and turns that kept me engaged in the story. Definitely recommend and looking forward to reading more from this author!

I want to offer a sincere “Thank you” to all who have given me a chance and taken the time to read my novels. I truly appreciate you! Thanks for reading, A.S. 

Wilt and the LeBron Drive-by

Wilt blocks Kareem
Always my favorite Wilt photo, blocking Kareem’s sky hook.

I am not a LeBron James basher. He is one of the greatest athletes and basketball players of all time. He has made a bad decision or two, but who hasn’t. And, he is a giver – to the tune of well over $40 million. Probably twice that.

As dawn came in the east, sports fans learned that James last night surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (31,419). Wilt had been surpassed by four others: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and (No. 1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron will likely surpass them all.

I watched the first half, in which he was 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line. And I have seen the highlights – he did it in amazing fashion – needed 39, scored a season-high 44. More importantly the Lakers have won 4-straight.

Comparing Wilt and LeBron is, of course, apples to oranges. I just want to point out a fact or two.

In Wilt’s day, you weren’t allowed to play in the NBA until the college class you entered with had graduated. Wilt, frustrated by being ganged up on by entire teams, played what would have been his senior year at Kansas with the Harlem Globetrotters.

In those first four years of LeBron’s career, in the NBA, straight out of high school, he scored 8,439 points. Surprisingly, in LeBron’s fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years, at age (approximately) 22-26, he scored 8,923 points. Only 484 more points in what should have been the prime of his life.

Wilt in those years (age 22-26), keeping in mind that one was his rookie season, scored 13,355 points, including, in his third season, his 50 points-per-game.

Is it fair to say that Wilt would have scored 10,000 points from 18 to 22 years of age had he been in the NBA? I think it’s a safe bet.

Hard to believe, but LeBron is already in his 16th NBA season. He is quite durable and has never suffered a major injury. Wilt played only 14 seasons, in my estimation walking away much like Jim Brown did, with a few good years still ahead of him. In one of those seasons (69-70), Wilt played in only 12 games due to a knee injury.

Here’s a few fun facts about Wilt’s career. In 61-62, when he averaged 50.4 points per game, he had 45 games in which he scored over 50 points, including his 100. Never wanting to come out of a game, he actually averaged 48.5 minutes per game (an NBA game is 48 minutes). Wilt averaged in that season over a point a minute (1.037) per game. Never matched. The year after Wilt changed his game to help Philly get past Boston and win the NBA title over San Francisco, he led the league in assists per game, at 8.6, the only time a center has led (he averaged 7.8 assists, 24 points, and 24 rebounds the title year – 67). In his last two years with the Lakers, including his second title in ’72, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich handled much of the scoring. Wilt still scored 19.2 points and 18.6 rebounds per game, starting a wicked fast break, again unheard of numbers today. Wilt’s field goal percentage his final season? .727.

Yes, players over 7-foot were rare in the 60’s. But Wilt was an athlete. Before he gave up track and field, he high jumped 6-foot-6, ran a 49 flat 440, 1:58.3 880, long jumped 22-feet and put the shot 53-4. He played volleyball during and after his pro ball career. Could Wilt have played the “stretch-4” position like today’s big men? I believe he could have if it were asked of him. Despite his free throw woes, he had a soft touch on his turnaround and fade away jumpers. He could have developed a 3-point shot had he wanted to – and had there been one. Of LeBron’s 11,419 field goals, 1,645 have been 3-pointers. Wilt made 12,681 – the hard way.

Lastly, as once the first and now the sixth-leading scorer of all time, Wilt’s 14 seasons were the fewest of the other five. Kobe was the only other straight out of high school and played 20 seasons. Kareem, after four years at UCLA, played 21 seasons. Karl played 19 after three at Louisiana Tech, Jordan 15 after three at North Carolina.

So, yes, I’m a Wilt fan (See Postscript below). I don’t begrudge LaBron or those who will surpass his milestones. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

Wilt n LaBron

Wilt beach trio.JPGP.S. On being a Wilt fan: One beach trip when there was an excessive amount of seaweed washed up on shore, my kids and I didn’t build a sandcastle, we built Wilt. LOL. Thanks for reading.

© 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Victory

Author’s Note: Book business to the side, the former sportswriter needs a moment… Thanks for reading, A.S.

I’ve watched a good bit of high school basketball in the past months, both my youthful alma mater, and other local teams as well. From what I’ve seen versus what I remember, a glaring fact emerged. There is an ART to closing out a win on the basketball court.

If you’re a high school player, the biggest lesson to take from this is (I’ll put it on top rather than make you work for it): Every Possession Matters!

If you lose a game by a basket, 3 points or less, afterwards, think back or watch film about all the wasted possessions. I’m not just talking about turnovers, because some T.O.s are inevitable. BUT, SOME ARE NOT! Some come from forcing a pass that wasn’t there, rather than making two quick passes to get the ball to the same place, or from dribbling too much RATHER than passing. Or from NOT PLAYING WITHIN YOURSELF, or in other words, trying to do more than you are capable of. Know your limitations.

How many times have you seen a great defensive steal followed by a mindless turnover, trying to force a fast break basket that isn’t there – trying to make that night’s highlight reel? You won the battle, back it out and relax, run your offense. When you gain an advantage, keep it.

Next, forcing a ridiculous, needless, ill-advised or just plain bad shot does not show up in the statistics as a turnover, BUT IT SHOULD!! There is not a shot clock in high school basketball. Take good shots! No defender can run as fast as you can pass it. If you are winning a game in the waning minutes and you force a (include above adjectives) 3-point shot – any shot – your opposition should shake your hand or kiss your cheek as they go the other way to win the game. YOU GAVE THEM THE GREATEST GIFT THEY COULD ASK FOR!

Conversely, NEVER reward the opposition’s offense by fouling a shooter putting up a desperation, low-percentage shot, or any 3-point shot. They are trying to turn the ball over to you – let them. Don’t give them a chance to correct their mistake at the charity stripe.

On both offensive and defensive fast breaks keep sprinting to the basket until there is a result. As I’ve told the biddy teams I’ve coached, if we have a fast break there’s a good chance we’ll miss the layup, just like the opposition. Keep going to the basket. When a second or third shot is made on a fast break by a second or third player, it’s because the defensive team got OUT-HUSTLED, hanging back and watching. You see it all the time after the first shot gets blocked. THIS MIGHT BE THE ONE POSSESSION THAT CAUSES YOU TO LOSE THE GAME!

Lastly, if you want to win basketball games, PRACTICE YOUR FOUL SHOOTING. If you can’t hit your foul shots down the stretch of a tight game, chances are you’re going to lose. This is partially your coach’s fault. If you’re not shooting 50 to 100 foul shots every day in practice – some of them while your winded – you’re being set up to lose. Shooting them in street clothes at lunch doesn’t count. YOU’VE GOT TO CARE ABOUT IT. Find your shot, work out your routine, do it exactly the same way every time, learn to concentrate, making them amid distraction. Until you AND your teammates do, you’re going to drop the close ones. If you’re one who hoists 3’s with reckless abandon, you shouldn’t be shooting less than 75 % from the line. AGAIN, CONCENTRATION IS THE KEY! The teams I played on shot just under 70 % from the line and won over 80 % of their games (combined).

When I played in the early 1980s our style was pretty boring I suppose. We passed it until we had an open shot. In fact, we passed up good shots for great shots. We could also nurture a win down the stretch. I watched two different teams recently lose late leads, and then, the contest. I asked myself is Coach Tex Williams’ “Victory” offense obsolete? If the man-to-man “D” gets too aggressive, you go to the line. If they overplay, you cut backdoor or back it out or take it to the other side. And, you can score out of it if need be.

If winning is everything, “Victory” is relevant.

© 2018

 

Unique Sports Novel, Low Price

In appreciation of the success we’ve had in our first 10 months, The Long Shadow Of Hope, my first novel, is available to read on any electronic device for $1.99 for the next five days. Just download the free Kindle app for other devices. Buy it now and save it for summer! Paperback is available for $13.99. Thank you, sincerely, for all the support. Look for the release of my next novel, The Lost Lantern, in April. Thanks for reading, A.S.

Shadow Copy thumbnail
Read 20 reviews – 18 5-star – of a college football program gone awry – at same page. 

 

Joni

 

The warrior runner ignores the pain

And pushes on.

The gentle woman educates children for a lifetime

And pushes on.

The warrior runner charts miles month after month, year after year

And pushes on.

The gentle woman smiles warmly, treating people kindly, as only she can

And pushes on.

The warrior runner fights off injury from pounding the pavement

And pushes on.

The gentle woman lovingly cares for her elderly mother

And pushes on.

The warrior runner wants only to save some cherished mementos

And pushes on.

The uncaring water rises fast, enters her home

And pushes on.

 

©2016

Long Shadow’s First Week

 

With Brandon Lowe cppdFirst-week  sales of my novel, The Long Shadow Of Hope, went pretty well considering it was available in electronic form only: 25 sales, three 5-star customer reviews, downloaded in at least 11 states including California, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, West Virginia, Illinois, Texas.

Ended the week with an interview on The Brandon Lowe Show locally here in Charleston, West Virginia, which can be heard by going to 95thesportsfox.com click podcast, and click Wednesday. Or soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/brandon-lowe-show/andy-spradling-05-04-16

Had a great time on the show and it was a good interview I believe. Brandon (above, right) has an innovative approach and is making a niche for himself here.

You can download The Long Shadow Of Hope by searching the title on Amazon.com. If you’re a member, it’s also on Kindle Direct.  The print version will be available very soon at Createspace.com and Amazon.com. If you get a rush out of the book, please share with other readers. We’re hoping to climb the mountain word-of-mouth, person to person.

Thankful for Joseph E. Bird’s review as well:

Football, I think it’s fair to say, is primal. Speed and strength and aggressive ferocity matter. Coaches like to talk about game plans and strategy, but nine times out of ten, the faster, stronger players win. And make no mistake, winning is everything. There may be talk of building character and lessons learned in losing, but such subtleties are just that – talk. It’s a man’s game, in every sense of the archaic phrase.

So it is with Andrew Spradling’s novel, The Long Shadow of Hope.

His prologue paints the scene. If you’ve ever watched a college football pre-game show, you’ve seen it. The fans, the cheerleaders, the tailgating – and the players who still display a naive enthusiasm for a multi-billion dollar business that masquerades as a game.

Spradling’s book is a behind-the-scenes look into that world. There’s no Rudy who sticks with the game against all odds. There’s no underdog team battling for a championship. It’s a story of how selfishness and greed can ruin lives and it’s told with the same direct, unflinching, fierceness that is on full display on Saturday afternoons every fall.

In Long Shadow, story is everything. It’s pretty clear who the good guys and bad guys are. In fact, Chap Roberts is one of the more despicable characters I’ve met in a long time and he has little time for inner reflection. And the men in Long Shadow, being the primal sorts that they are, are susceptible to the lure of illicit relationships and their encounters are described with direct clarity. Things are happening, surprises are brewing, and there are more twists in the story than the road up Lookout Mountain.

Like a good football game, you don’t know who is going to win until the end. It will leave you shaking your head, and hoping that college football isn’t really that bad.

 

 

 

 

Wonderment (continued)

AAU 79 crpd

Author’s note: Because this had tones of a romantic walk, I had to go on with it. My roommate freshman year of college was one of my greatest friends. Though we came from different towns, we’d been friends since we were twelve, a rarity among foes at the time. That was due to our participation on AAU teams, and our coaches who had the wisdom to bring us together. Link to You Gotta Believe on home page.  Thanks for reading, A.S.

 

REMINDED of a white surprise so long ago,

Inches and inches of insulation — and isolation.

So beautiful, so unexpected, so tranquil, we just had to be a part,

Before it was invaded.

In the earliest winter light, a whole city in sight,

And yet, just quiet. So noticeably quiet.

Soft crunch underfoot, breathing, no wind,

A little laughter of appreciation.

Wonderment.

Capitol dome, the Kanawha, the future, my fall,

Equally inactive — and uninvolved.

As if the whole world stopped – unresolved.

So many mysteries yet unsolved.

We’d fought battles as foes.

We’d fought battles as friends.

We’d fought battles as teammates with victorious ends,

Though I’d miss the last one hundred twenty five.

I’d been to the funeral parlor for you,

You’d sat by my hospital bed,

Just before the first battle I missed.

This time the next year, I’d be gone.

Three times struck, no leg to stand on.

With nary a goodbye.

Soon to be

Out of control, lost, struggling, searching,

Wonder what it all meant.

© 2016

 

Throw Us A Bone, Not Throwbacks

HERE’S a pet peeve about the NFL. It’s easy to have complaints right now. Mine is relatively small. The astronomical amounts of money being kicked around each week is constantly being rubbed in our face. Lord, Adrian Peterson had been paid $7.6 million to sit out this season up until two days ago. I personally believe his case is unwarranted overreaction to the Ray Rice fiasco, but these are entirely different issues. The multi-billion-dollar television contract is what makes all of these staggering numbers possible, and don’t think that we consumers don’t pay for it, every time we buy a car, every time we pay our insurance, every time we go to the supermarket or 7-11. You think there’s not a trickle-down effect on the Super Bowl commercials we laugh about? Guess again. I touch upon this topic in my upcoming book, The Long Shadow Of Hope (speaking of commercials).

No, what’s getting under my skin is the throwback uniforms. More importantly, the disregard for the cost of them. Who really cares to see their favorite team in those God-awful throwbacks? Nobody, I’m sure. Few at best. It might have been nice and nostalgic once a few years ago… ONCE. I was reminded of it again by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. And the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t wear throwbacks. In that scenario it seems even more ridiculous. Again this expense – outfitting an entire football team – is a drop in the bucket of their budget. I know that. Here’s an idea. Next time throwback Sunday comes around, put out a press release saying “We’re not doing it. Just imagine the vertical stripes this time around. We are instead donating that $25,000 dollars to our local homeless shelter or food kitchen, or for families in need, or for cancer research.”

I know the NFL gives. We pay them to do it. It looks good, and they need the image enhancement. And if you have to have throwbacks, go back to the tear-away jerseys. There’s no greater image than Earl Campbell’s jersey being ripped away by helpless defenders as he bulls his way for more yards. Of course then, somebody would have to run the ball…