Review: Watching Baseball Smarter–A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks

5 Star, Culture, DVD - Light
Watching Baseball
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Gift and Tactical Book Without Peer

October 6, 2007

Zack Hample

I strongly disagree with the reviewer that says that there is not much here that has not been said elsewhere. While I am new to baseball, at the age of 55 vastly more familiar with soccer, football, and basketball, my youngest son loves the game, and I have spent time looking for the perfect book that can both help him see the nuances, and help me follow the game.

This book is nothing less than extraordinary. It would be a superb gift for any high school or college student who loves the game, and for any parent or grandparent new to the game. Personally I think it has a great deal of information that those who consider themselves avid fans have NOT noticed, but you can decide that better than I.

Here are some of the nuggets in this book, which is the tactical complement to the strategic companion by another author, “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.” The two books together constitute an instant reference library from any baseball affecionado.

1) 1 in 100,000 make it to major leagues from among those who strive to get there.

2) Going to college is a superb way to perfect your skills and shorten the time to selection for minor leagues–a tiny handfull get to go straight to the majors.

3) Five tool players can field well, throw hard (and accurately), run fast, hit home runs, and hit a high batting average.

4) Any major leaguer, however “bad” they might appear on a given day, is the best of the best and has spent a lifetime getting there.

5) Awesome concise clear description of the many kinds of balls that a pitcher can throw to a batter.

6) Runner on second can see catcher’s signals and signal to the hitter more often than not. I had no idea.

7) When bases are loaded, a fast ball is more likely, hit to it and improve your batting average.

8) Amazing list of all the *many* reasons a coach might walk out to talk to a pitcher.

9) Leg strength is critical for all players and helps power the ball.

10) Run bases on a CURVE for faster rounding of bases.

11) A catcher can be the team’s reference librarian, a goldmine of knowledge about hitters built up over a lifetime of observation.

12) Strike zone defined by each player, not a fixed box. From the kneecaps to a line halfway between the belt and the shoulders.

13) Outstanding section on umpires, who can spend thousands on a school and endure 8-12 years in the minors on bare subsistence salaries. If they do make it to the majors, then they earn a six-figure salary.

14) Lovely section that clearly illustrates and explains all of the symbols needed to record every move in a baseball game.

15) Umpires WILL remember every slight over the years, and when borderline calls need to be made, the slights will come home to roost.

Superb glossary.

I am giving this review and the book to my 12-year old, in the hopes that he will read every word and refer back to this book many times in the years to come.

This book is a GEM. Ignore the faint praise by other reviewers.

See also the DVDs
Field of Dreams (Widescreen Two-Disc Anniversary Edition)
A League of Their OwnBaseball – A Film By Ken Burns
The Natural (Director’s Cut)
For Love of the Game
Impossible to Forget: The Story of the ’67 Boston Red Sox
Nine Innings From Ground Zero: The 2001 World Series
Rising Sons Return – Matsui, Ichiro and More!
American Pastime
The Pride of the Yankees (Anniversary Edition)

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