Linda's Reviews > Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks

Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample
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Dec 04, 11

bookshelves: baseball, non-fiction
Read from September 19 to October 23, 2011

The subtitle of this book is "A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks." Positioning a book as an essential resource for that broad a group is an immensely tall order, and one which surely invites dispute from absolute beginners who will find it not nearly basic enough, and serious fans who find the book far too elementary for their taste. Luckily for me, I seem to fall smack dab in the middle of target demographic. A semi-expert I'm not, but if I can muddle together the rest of the subtitle, I'd proudly claim the banner of "deeply serious beginner", and I found Watching Baseball Smarter to be a greatly informative and entertaining read.

I'm one of those fans who had been little more than casually aware of baseball for most of my life, until that day when something clicked, and what I thought was me keeping my boyfriend company as he watched the Phillies every night was actually me turning into a committed fan all on my own. I had always liked baseball, interested enough to enjoy going to a game in every place I've lived that had an associated major league club, but not enough to follow it regularly or, I realize now, even understand it well enough to know more than the absolute minimum. I do remember one summer when I was about eight or ten years old, staying in Costa Rica with an aunt whose cable TV offerings actually happened to include a single American TV station, WGN in Chicago, and largely as a consequence of parking myself in front of the TV to catch the daily reruns of Little House on the Prairie I also caught a whole summer of Chicago Cubs games -- but anything I might have learned by osmosis that season is long gone. So, as my life as a real baseball fan started to take off alongside the Phillies' 2010 season, I just wanted to learn more and more about the game.

I found Watching Baseball Smarter to be an excellent starting point. It covers the basics well, with chapters devoted specifically to pitching, hitting, fielding, etc., and provides a very good introduction to a lot of the details, rules, and statistics that aren't at all obvious to the casual fan. The author's style is light-hearted and easy to understand, and his voice is always one of a fellow fan. The book is not particularly long, and it's organized in a format that lends itself equally well to reading from front to back, or jumping around from topic to topic. There's also an extremely helpful glossary of baseball terms and slang -- great to have at hand while you're watching or listening to the game.

Learning more about the nuances of the game, from superstitions and traditions to playing strategies that won't be found in any rule book, just enriches my enjoyment of the game. Although I've been through the book once and the season's now over, you'll be sure to see me reading it a second time come next March (opening day 2012 is March 28!) and I expect it to keep it nearby as a reference throughout the season



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Reading Progress

09/20/2011 "The Phillies are in the playoffs. I'm in a baseball state of mind!"
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