Back when I was in the 5th grade (in 1972), I bought a book at our school ‘Book Fair’ that was very important to me (at the time).
The book was called “How to Play Better Baseball.”
It was a ‘learners’ book on baseball – how the playing field was made up, what equipment was used in the game, how to field each position, pitch, hit, run the bases, game strategy and how to keep score – all with many illustrations that looked like they were right out of Schoolhouse Rock.
I probably read the thing (at least) 50 times after I bought it. And, I still have it – I guess that I’ve kept it, all these years, just for old-times sake.
I just had the pleasure to read Glenn Guzzo’s new book – “The New Ballgame: Understanding Baseball Statistics for the Casual Fan” and it reminded me of that ‘learner’ baseball book from my youth.
“The New Ballgame” (which was just released this month) provides a user-friendly primer for the newer baseball fan (or those just new to appreciating the numbers that are tied to the game) on the use and history of baseball statistics.
In this book, Guzzo runs through the conventional everyday baseball statistics, offers a brief statistical history of baseball, teaches the basics of keeping score and reading a box score, details how statistical appreciation can be applied at the park or watching TV, and gives a hint at the future of baseball statistics – as well as touching on the use of baseball stats in fantasy games.
“The New Ballgame” is a quick read. And, to be candid, if you’re the type of fan who can recite the formula for Bill James Win Shares calculation (without looking it up) and/or you have been a member of a historical review board at SABR for the last thirty years, then this is probably not the book for you.
Nonetheless, if you’re a new fan to the game of baseball, or someone who has been a fan but has never really understood baseball statistics, I would recommend picking up “The New Ballgame.” You will learn something by reading this book. (Even this 30+ year fan of the game picked up some new tidbits when reading the brief statistical history of baseball section in the book.)
Just as I have kept “How to Play Better Baseball” for over three decades, I could see someone still having “The New Ballgame” on their bookshelf thirty years from now.
It’s that “first kiss” effect – many seem to always want to remember that first lip-lock. And, if you’re in need of that “first kiss” in terms of learning about baseball statistics, “The New Ballgame” is a great way to get introduced to something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.