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Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks
 
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Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks [Format Kindle]

Zack Hample
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

CHAPTER 1

THE BASICS



There's one word that describes baseball: "You never know."

--Joaquin Andujar, former major league pitcher

THE DREAM

Life is pretty good if you're in the Major Leagues. First of all, you get to hang out with other major leaguers. You also get to be on TV every day and play in front of thousands of people. You get to see your name in newspapers and magazines and on the back of people's T-shirts. You get to see your face on scoreboards and baseball cards and posters. You get free equipment from sporting goods companies. You get unlimited bubble gum and sunflower seeds in the dugout. You get to relax in the clubhouse and watch big-screen TVs from fancy leather couches while other people get paid to wash your uniform. You get to fly on private jets and stay in nice hotels. You get recognized by kids and pretty women who scream for autographs. Sometimes old men scream too. You earn an average annual salary of $2.9 million (or roughly $17,900 per game), and when the team travels, you get over $75 extra every day to spend on food.

No wonder the dream starts early.

But is it simply about fame and money? Maybe it's about having the chance to do something spectacular in one instant that people will always remember. Maybe it's about a subconscious desire to play a game full-time and act like a little boy well into adulthood. Maybe it's about having the manager and trainer race onto the field to make sure you're okay after you hit a foul ball off your ankle.

The motivation is almost irrelevant because every kid with the dream wants it bad. Every kid has a reason. Every kid has a story. Every kid has a good baseball name. Every kid practices his swing in the mirror. Every kid can steal a base and catch a fly ball and throw strikes. Every kid converts his statistics into a 600-at-bat season and concludes that he'll be a superstar in the majors. Every kid is sure he's gonna make it--and 99,999 out of 100,000 kids are wrong. They don't know how much better the competition gets every step of the way. They don't know how long the journey takes. They don't know that there's always some other kid with an edge. Someone is always taller, stronger, faster, smarter. Someone has quicker feet and softer hands and sharper eyes and better instincts. Someone runs more. Someone lifts weights more. Someone is using steroids. Someone's father is a baseball coach. Someone's older brother is already playing pro ball. Someone has a batting tee in the basement or a batting cage in the backyard. Someone lives in warmer weather and gets to practice year-round. Someone wants it more than anyone on earth has ever wanted it.

There's T-ball, Wiffle ball, softball, and Little League. There are baseball camps, baseball schools, private lessons, and winter clinics in stuffy gymnasiums. There's high school ball, college ball, summer ball, and fall ball. There's Babe Ruth League, the Cape Cod League, semipro leagues, and independent leagues. There are scouts, agents, tryouts, strikeouts, errors, cuts, injuries, surgeries, and lifelong dreams that can die in an instant.

But every year, the dream stays alive for 1,500 young men, at least for a little while, when they're selected by major league organizations in the First-Year Player Draft.

THE DRAFT

Basketball players regularly jump directly from high school to the NBA. Football players push right through college to the NFL. But baseball players have it much harder--as do the scouts who discover them. Almost all players start their careers in the Minor Leagues because their talent is less predictable and takes longer to develop.

Each June the ongoing search for talent begins a new cycle with the 50-round draft. Every major league team employs dozens of scouts who focus on North American players--mostly high school and college graduates--who are eligible for the draft. Now that baseball is spreading internationally, scouts also comb the rest of the globe for prospects who can sign outside of the draft as free agents if they're at least 16 years old. But the draft supplies more future major leaguers than any other talent pool.

Teams are assigned an order for selecting players, based on the previous season's won-lost records. The lousier teams get the higher picks. (Some people wonder if teams prefer to finish last once the season starts going downhill.)

The draft serves two purposes: to distribute the talent evenly and to keep signing bonuses from surging. Players are not free agents in the draft. They are forced to negotiate only with the team that selects them. If a player refuses an offer, he must wait a year and reenter the draft.

Even though every kid dreams of playing in the big leagues, it's not always easy for a team to complete the deal with a player it has drafted. For example, a high school star who's offered a $10,000 signing bonus for his 16th-round selection might also have heard from dozens of colleges that offered him full scholarships and a chance to play on their Division I teams. He may choose to stay in school, knowing that his skills could improve so much in four years that he might eventually be a first-round draft pick and earn a multimillion-dollar signing bonus. And if his future professional team pays him that much, the organization will stick with him if he struggles and give him all the instruction, attention, and support he needs to reach the majors.

Scouts look for intangibles like maturity, aggressiveness, and baseball instincts. When it comes to finding position players, a scout's Holy Grail is the five-tool player, the five tools being the ability to field well, throw hard, run fast, hit home runs, and hit for a high batting average. Barry Bonds, in his prime, was the ultimate five-tool player.

With pitchers, scouts look for velocity and accuracy, but they don't just want throwers; they want pitchers who use their heads and have a game plan. Left-handers are always in demand because their pitches naturally have more movement--no one's really sure why--and because they're more effective against left-handed hitters. Teams seek tall pitchers, not only because their big bodies are more durable, but because their long arms allow them to release the ball closer to home plate, giving hitters less time to react. Tall guys also have better leverage, meaning their higher release points allow them to throw with a greater downward angle for more velocity. Look at any team's roster and you'll notice that there aren't many players--especially pitchers--under six feet tall.

THE ROAD TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES

Of the tens of thousands of players selected since the draft began in 1965, fewer than two dozen have jumped directly to the majors. Mike Adamson became the first in 1967 when the Baltimore Orioles plucked him from the University of Southern California. Dave Winfield is the lone Hall of Famer on the list, but there are other big names, such as Burt Hooton, Dick Ruthven, Mike Morgan, Bob Horner, Pete Incaviglia, John Olerud, Chan Ho Park, and one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott.

Everyone else faces the ugly reality of life in the Minor Leagues. During homestands, some players live with host families who volunteer through their teams. On the road, all players endure endless bus rides, stay at cheap hotels, and receive a measly $20 a day for meals. They earn a maximum of $850 per month during their first season at the bottom of the professional baseball totem pole--and most of them couldn't be happier.

Most teams' minor league systems have these six levels, each divided into several leagues:

LEVELLEAGUE NAMES
RookieAppalachian, Arizona, Gulf Coast, Pioneer
Class A Short-SeasonNew York-Penn, Northwest
Class AMidwest, South Atlantic
Class A AdvancedCalifornia, Carolina, Florida State
Double-AEastern, Southern, Texas
Triple-AInternational, Pacific Coast

The Detroit Tigers, for example, have a Rookie team in the Gulf Coast League, a Class A Short-Season team in the New York-Penn League, a Class A team in the Midwest League, a Class A Advanced team in the Florida State League, a Double-A team in the Eastern League, and a Triple-A team in the International League.

When advancing to Triple-A, the highest level before the majors, players face a significant competitive jump because the rosters include many former major leaguers (and current ones recovering from injuries on rehab assignments) who are trying to get back to The Show.

Skipping a higher level of the Minor Leagues is rare; most players advance one level at a time only after demonstrating that they're better than most of the competition. So think twice before you yell, "He stinks!" about any major leaguer; he's spent his entire life beating the odds and proving himself as the best of the best of the best of the best of the best.

Players and scouts often mention that it's more difficult to make it from the minors to the majors than it is to get drafted in the first place. Of the minor leaguers who do reach the majors, many get just a cup of coffee before fading into oblivion--but even they get their names in the Baseball Encyclopedia. Most minor leaguers never make it and get released when their organizations give up on them (if they don't get discouraged and quit on their own). Still, they'll always be able to say that they played professional baseball.

LEAGUES, DIVISIONS, AND TEAMS

Major League Baseball (MLB) has 30 teams and two leagues. The National League (NL) and American League (AL) each have three divisions called the East, Central, and West. Take a look at the breakdown:

NL EASTNL CENTRALNL WEST
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Florida MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsHouston AstrosLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesMilwaukee BrewersSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsPittsburgh PiratesSan Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals

AL EASTAL CENTRALAL WEST
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Boston Red SoxClevela...

Revue de presse

“This isn’t the first book to take on the challenge of explaining baseball intricacies, but I’ve never seen it done better. . . . When it comes to producing ‘aha moments’ of baseball enlightenment, the book indeed has a high batting average.” —The Seattle Times

“Hample calls himself an obsessed fan—obsessed in a good way—and the product of his torment is a funny and informative guide for all levels of fans.” —Yankees Magazine

“Engaging. . . . Hample’s book is both deceptive in its simplicity (the basic rules, but also the ten different ways a pitcher can commit a balk) and surprising in its range.” —Fortune

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3494 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 274 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage (24 décembre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000SEFHYM
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°372.256 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 TRES INTERESSANT - 11 février 2014
Par marc
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Le livre décrit pleins de détails qui n'apparaissent pas dans les livres classiques sur le baseball
c'est une mine d'or d'informations très pertinente
c'est très original. meilleur livre sur le baseball
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  140 commentaires
77 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good for beginners--but not for "Deeply Serious Geeks" 20 août 2007
Par Steven A. Peterson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The subtitle of this well crafted work: "A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-Experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks." For the first two categories, right on! Geeks are not going to learn a whole lot that they already do not know. That aside, though, this is a nice work.

Examples of what is in some of the chapters: Chapter 2 focuses on "Pitchers and Catchers." The first part of the chapter describes basic pitches (and how they are thrown)--fastball, curveball, slider, change-up, split-finger fastball, knuckleball, screwball, spitball (naughty, naughty!), eephus, and gyroball (does it even exist?). Each is described, with a bit of humor added here and there.

Chapter 5 explores "Fielding." There are brief descriptions of what each position has to do. As an old second baseman, I enjoyed reading about the basics of the double play and so on.

Chapter 6 examines "Stadiums" (but should this not be "Stadia," to use the proper Latin term?). One of the more enjoyable features is the description of some unique fields. Think Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. But why not talk about the cool stadium in Cleveland?

Chapter 9 takes a peek at "Random Stuff to Know." E.g., Why K for strikeout on scorecards? What about uniform numbers? The seventh inning stretch? And so on.

This book is a lot of fun. Even hard core baseball fans might enjoy it for its style, even though they may not learn a great deal that is new. For beginners and intermediate fans, though, this will be quite a pleasure!
32 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 interesting and entertaining 17 juillet 2007
Par Doc Dave - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I really liked this book a lot...I learned quite a bit about baseball and I enjoyed the author's sense of humor. I don't think the book quite lives up to its subtitle: ...for beginners, semi-experts, and deeply serious geeks. It probably won't be quite basic enough to totally please the absolute beginner...but still not a bad choice either. Likewise I think that most semi-experts and serious geeks are going to be looking for something more than what is offered here. Nevertheless, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that will really enjoy and learn from this book, the way I did. I'd recommend it for people with at least a very basic knowledge of how baseball is played, who want to learn more about a truly fascinating game.
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 makes watching more interesting 11 juin 2007
Par Karen J - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It's easy to read and entertaining. The book is well-edited - chapters are split up in such a way that makes it easy to find immediate answers during a game, yet it flows cohesively enough to make it an entertaining read on a quiet night. I like the extensive dictionary of baseball terms and phrases. It has lots of whats, but frequently also includes the whys behind things like the history of certain stats and the main reason the MLB did away with spitballs. There's lots of insider info, interesting facts and anecdotes; everything from how to read a box score to unusual attributes of ball parks. This book is loaded, and any baseball fan will enjoy it.
32 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 heads up baseball fans 31 mars 2007
Par michael fierman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
this book is a must read for anyone interested in getting the most out of watching a baseball game. even the most knowledgeable fans will find lots of new and interesting information in this extremely thoughtful book...but not to worry, it is extemely entertaining and funny as well. in addition to the well laid out text there are references in italics linking to a prodigious glossary at the end containing every imaginable baseball term. this is a welcome addition to the literature especially as it comes right at the beginning of the new season.
31 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Superb Gift and Tactical Book Without Peer 7 octobre 2007
Par Robert David STEELE Vivas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
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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