Baseball for Beginners #KillMeNow

Batting average. ERA. RBI. Sacrifice hits. On base percentage. Good Lord. I never knew the game of baseball required so many prerequisites.

I haven’t been watching baseball very long, if you couldn’t tell. About this time, every year, I find myself jonsing for a good team to root for (the short NFL season always burns me). So, why not baseball? It’s worth a shot, I suppose.

Like any good tale, I needed a hero—a team, something, someone, to root for.

Since I’m moving away this summer, I’ve decided to pass on any California team in favor of my future home state—New York. I’d love to be able to go to a game or two. My friends, the ones who watch baseball, they threatened to disown me if I became a Yankees fan. This left me the Mets.

So, now I’m a Mets fan. (At 22-29, I’m wondering what I signed myself up for).

ExSPECTATON

The Philadelphia game I watched was so slow, TV commentators discussed their favorite restaurants in town instead of calling the game. Consequently, I now know more about diners in Philadelphia than I do baseball.

It’s been a great season for the young Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey. I think… Everyone seems to talk about how good he is. “They” even say he is undefeated. It seems, if the Mets keep losing, then obviously, he can’t be; apparently, I’m missing something here. (I’ve since found out why).

Spectating seemed easy at first: a pitcher, a batter, some bases. Home runs are good. But no. Oh no. There’s more. Much, much more.

Here’s a couple quotes fromHow Baseball Works,” to give you an idea of what I mean.

“A sacrifice does not count as an at bat, but the hitter may be “credited” with an RBI (so a hitter can be credited with a sacrifice and an RBI, but has no base hit and no at bat recorded.”

I see…

 “On Base Percentage is similar to batting average but includes appearances which led to walks and times a hitter was hit by a pitch. It is calculated by adding Base Hits, Bases on Balls and Hit by Pitches, and dividing by the sum of At Bats, Bases on Balls, Hit by Pitches and Sacrifices.

Ummmm…

These stats and rules, they just keep going and going. I’m the type to want to understand what I watch, so it’s been a little overwhelming. This is what I’ve got: home runs, as we’ve discussed, are good, .300 is a good batting average, the lower ERA the better—though I still don’t completely get ERA.

My preliminary understanding, though quite small, has already given me a much more enjoyable watching experience, I must admit. It can only get better from here, right?

The Curve

The crazy stats, the info, the rules, it’s caused me to wonder something. Is baseball so boring that we created stats just to give spectators something to do in the stands? (Or the commentators something to talk about?)

Don’t get me wrong, baseball has been growing on me. I actually quite like it. As of this writing, the Mets have won 5 in a row, including 4 straight against the Yankees. So that’s nice. Could this be the start of something big?

Also, I’ve decided to start my own baseball stat. It’s called, WOB. (Wife on Board). How many games will I get my wife to watch? Here’s the math: Innings watched divided by games, multiplied by watchable games divided by wins/loss record. It’s currently zero.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Any tips for a beginning baseball spectator?

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9 comments

  1. One of my goals for the summer is to try to understand and appreciate baseball as well. I’ve made it down to 1 Rockies game so far, and actually found myself enjoying it! Thanks for helping me understand it a little better!

  2. Kevin,

    Once your moved to Rochester you can even watch – in person – a minor league team (still professional baseball)…the Rochester Red Wings!!! I’ve been to a couple of their games. For me I enjoy watching baseball more in person than on TV – so you and Meagan might give it a try.

  3. This post really brings a smile to my face. I came to know baseball before I came to know Christ (and for many years grew much closer to it).

    I’ll never forget going to a Reds game when I was at seminary with a group that included a South African who had never even seen a baseball before.

    There was a rain delay and I (on his left) and a friend (to his right) spent 3 hours instructing him on the intricacies of the sport (the deceptive flight of a curve, the infield shift for a lefty hitter, the blasphemy of the Designated Hitter).

    He just smiled and kept repeating, “I see. Okay.”

    The game finally started and nobody could get a hit. It was boring. By the 7th inning, we realized Tom Browning (for the Reds) had a perfect game going.

    So, putting our love of the game above our Christian ethics, we gathered our South African friend and snuck down to watch the end from some empty seats along the first base line.

    We carefully whispered to him the significance of the event without jinxing it by saying the actual words “Perfect Game”.

    With two outs in the ninth, we were bursting at the seams. The third batter grounded out to third. Our South African friend was the first to jump up and scream repeatedly at the top of his voice,

    “PERFECT GAME! PERFECT GAME! PERFECT GAME!”

    (And now I just realized I’ve written my next post as a comment on your blog. I trust you don’t mind. You bring out the best in me. 🙂 )

    1. Tony,

      That is a great story! I’ll have to pick your brain a little bit when I see you. A perfect game seems like it would be really boring but really tense. Also, I’ve heard of the Designated Hitter controversy but have no idea what that’s all about. I hope you do turn this comment into a blog! Looking forward to it .

  4. Baseball is one of the most complicated sports to understand. My husband and I are loyal Texas Rangers fans. We, on several occasions have started the process of explaining baseball to our almost 5 year old. “So you see baby, the man on the pile of dirt, called the pitcher’s mound, throws the ball to the man holding the bat. The man with the bat tries to hit the ball. If he misses, it’s called a strike. He can get 3 of those before he’s considered “out” and his turn is over…” Yeah, this was going better in our heads before we tried to actually explain it to her! 🙂 And we haven’t even touched on bunting, sacrifice flys, stolen bases, etc. I’ve never understood why a “walk” is also called “base on balls”- Can we pick one?

    Keep up with it, and you’ll learn all of the lingo. There are SO many obscure rules in baseball.

    As always, GO RANGERS!!
    I’m glad you have made the choice to follow baseball and imerse yourself into America’s past time!

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