Tiffany's Reviews > The Physics of Baseball

The Physics of Baseball by Robert K. Adair
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Aug 03, 12

bookshelves: sports, science
Read from April 20 to August 03, 2012

When I'd gotten a good chunk of the way into this book, I checked to see what other Goodreaders said about it. It seemed like everybody thought it was wonderful, and I wondered if maybe I was on crack, because I didn't like it. Now that I've finished it, and still didn't find it any better, I looked at the reviews again and this time saw a few 2-star ratings. Okay, I'm not the only one. But when I looked at *why* people gave it 2 stars, I felt like a loner again -- most of the reviews that I quickly skimmed gave it 2 stars because it was *too basic*. Wha huh?!?

Okay, I've said it before, and I'll say it again (but not out loud, because this is something I rarely ever admit out loud): I am not the dumbest person in the world. I took math classes left and right in high school and college, and did decently in my chemistry and physics classes in high school and college. That said, most of this book went over my head. What is it with these math and science books that are supposed to be written for the "common person," yet totally boggle me?!? "I have written this book for those interested in baseball, not in the principles of physics..." Wow, fooled me. I have an interest in baseball, *some* in physics, and yet most of the explanations were too physicy for me. Grrr.

But I gave it two stars anyway because there was some good to the book. The content of the book kind of falls into three categories for me: 1) stuff that went over my head; 2) stuff that I understood; 3) stuff I was too bored by the writing to really pay attention to. The stuff that went over my head at least *sort of* explained some things to me, or at least I sometimes sort of felt like I kind of sort of maybe started to make some sense of what he was saying (sometimes). The stuff I understood was sometimes like "Duh" things, or things you just *get* from watching baseball intensely for long enough. And then there were things that I'm sure I understand, or I'm sure I would have learned, if the writing just weren't SO DRY at times. So, overall, not a book I'd recommend. I was generally either baffled or bored.

And then, here's my other main gripe with this book. Judging by the author's picture, he's a pretty old gentleman. Okay, that's fine. But this version of the book is the third edition, updated in 2002. Could you please use some examples of players who have played *after* the 1920s?!? I mean, granted, that's not *important* to the book, but come on. You can only cite players who most readers nowadays have only *heard* of? Those were the only worthwhile players ever?? Let's skim the index -- Okay, 74 names (and I'm not counting the multiple times some of them showed up, over and over), and only 13 of those played in the 1980s or 1990s. Now, I do realize that there was way more time before the 1980s, so there are more names to use; however, really, you can't use more examples from current(ish) times? Randy Johnson is mentioned twice; Greg Maddux, once; Mark McGwire a whopping five times; Sammy Sosa, twice; Nolan Ryan, once (what?!?), and Ken Griffey, Jr. -- none! Okay, so you loooooove Mark McGwire, but in a book about pitching and hitting and catching, you only refer to Greg Maddux + Randy Johnson + Nolan Ryan + Ken Griffey, Jr. a total of *four* times? In a book that's been revised in 1994 and 2002?!? And when you wrote "The old-timers [outfielders] prided themselves on their ability to turn and run to the long ball without looking back, but you seldom see that today" (153), you didn't even think to add something like "except players like Ken Griffey, Jr."? Yes, I know I'm a hometown girl, but c'mon, the rest of the world knows who Ken Griffey, Jr. is (was). Puh-leeze. If this book is ever updated again, add some new players. Baseball did not end in the '70s.
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