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).
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 from “How 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.”
“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.“
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 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?