Help me learn to love baseball please
June 9, 2008 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me learn to love baseball please.

I have a passing interest in the game, especially the statistical aspect. But I'd like to really get into it now that basketball season is winding down.

Help me get into baseball. Books, websites or tips and tricks to fully appreciating the game would be helpful.
posted by willie11 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (54 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
i greatly enjoyed moneyball
posted by phil at 7:47 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Back in the eighties, the Cardinals ran a style of baseball that you don't see much anymore. It got them to a few world series. The manager, Whitey Herzog, wrote a book. Check it out. Good insights.

Also, there are some classic baseball movies out there:

The Natural
Bad News Bears (the original with Walter Matthau)
Field of Dreams
Bull Durham
Major League

I'm sure there are more... enjoy!
posted by rsol44 at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2008

I'm a big baseball fan, but I have to admit it's kind of boring, especially to watch on TV. What I found works for focusing the attention and limiting the desire to drift off in the fifth inning of a game, while at the same time indulging my love of the stats, is to keep score. I always thought it was a great way to add interest. Suddenly, that San Francisco-Milwaukee game is full of drama and intrigue.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:02 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Watch Field of Dreams to help you understand the emotional aspect of the game.

Any book on this list will help a lot with all aspects of the game, including statistics, history, and behind-the-scenes information.

Watch Baseball Tonight on ESPN whenever you can. Not only will you learn a lot about what's going on in the game right now, but also a great deal of information about how the game is played. If Peter Gammons is on the show at all, listen to every word he says--Gammons is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to baseball, and he's good at getting his points across.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:09 AM on June 9, 2008

Yeah, keeping score makes games a lot more interesting. It's kind of odd, but it works. It would also be a good way to expose yourself to all the stats available to play with.
posted by Science! at 8:09 AM on June 9, 2008

Out of the Park Baseball is #2 on MetaCritic's PC games ranking. I imagine that's a good way to get immersed in the game. There's a new version coming out in a few days.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:10 AM on June 9, 2008

Bonus points for anyone who knows of a way to watch major league games online (I ditched cable five-months ago).
posted by willie11 at 8:19 AM on June 9, 2008

Do you have a team that you are a fan of? For me, I'm a baseball fan in general, I keep some track of the whole game, but it is sort of distant and abstract. I really, really follow my team, and tying in a love of the game with the specific players and, well, storylines, that are happening to my team is what really makes it sing. The tension between the cold, hard, statistical nature of things mixed with very unpredictable, human, messy, actuality of any given play is what moves baseball appreciation. For me.

The more you know the more there is to appreciate. Fans of lots of different teams have group websites where they track and dissect the minutia of the team, both from statistical and less quantifiable perspectives. The most notable of these is probably, a Red Sox site that counts members of the front office as well as Curt Shilling as fairly active members. At any rate, discussing baseball with other people is one of the things that people who love baseball love about baseball.

I agree that keeping score is a great way to 'get' baseball in a granular way that you wan't get just by watching. I disagree with the "it's boring" line I hear repeatedly. It calls to mind a totally unrelated MetaFilter thread about loudness in recorded music. I think that other sports are louder than baseball, but when you are paying attemntion, the dynamic range in baseball is more satisfying than any other sport.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:21 AM on June 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

I think watching movies and reading books is one thing. But it is really not going to make you appreciate the game. I think the best way to really get into the game is to understand what these athletes are truly accomplishing. Just try and comprehend how difficult the basic things that they do.

What makes me truly appreciate the game is playing it. Go to a batting cage and try hitting a 90 mph baseball without any movement. Now imagine hitting that same pitch with it curving away from you, or drop as you swing at it. Now suddenly a pitcher throwing a changeup in the 80 mph range. Use a wooden bat and hit outside of the infield, if you could make the contact. Now imagine even hitting a deep ball, let alone anywhere near the fence. Imagine hitting a 420 ft homer... Unbelievable isn't it?

And thats just the batting, the fielding and the pitching are all ridiculous. Turning a double play or making a diving catch. Throwing a no hitter... All unbelievable feats when put into perspective.

Last bit of advice, start out watching exciting teams. Teams that hit a lot of home runs and steal a lot of bases. For a new person watching any sport, the teams that cause a lot of excitement help you ease into the appreciation of the game.

And now for my personal agenda... GO BREWERS!!!
posted by CWitt at 8:28 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bonus Points:

posted by CWitt at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Scoring is a fantastic way to keep yourself in the game. At first, it helps to do it on TV with DVR-enabled pausing (that's how I got good better), and it's somewhat like playing the lottery: my ultimate dream is to wind up scoring a no-hitter or a perfect game. You mentioned your interest is mostly statistical, but in the end you're only going to keep with it long-term if you discover the beauty of the game.

At the risk of stating the obvious, following a team helps a lot--if you're not in a baseball town, I humbly submit the Tampa Bay Rays, who are wooing even other teams' fans.

You mentioned your interest is mostly statistical, but in the end you're only going to keep with it long-term if you discover the beauty of the game. Baseball movies are a great way to have your eyes opened to it, so definitely watch any of the ones submitted. Still, any baseball movie list is woefully inadequate (Field of Dreams and the original Bad News Bears notwithstanding) without The Sandlot.
posted by recoveringsophist at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2008

If you want to get really, really intellectual about it, there's Men At Work by George Will. Alas, it's a little dated.

Seconding suggestions to read Moneyball and watch Baseball Tonight.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 AM on June 9, 2008

Read Men at Work: the Craft of Baseball by George Will. It has been years since I read it, but I recall it really gave me a knowledge and appreciation for the complexities of the game, even when it looks like nothing is happening.
posted by marxchivist at 8:38 AM on June 9, 2008

2nding Watching Baseball Smarter

Here's a Fresh Air interview with the author.
posted by The Gooch at 9:03 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Fire Joe Morgan is a hilarious blog whose authors are big-time stat-heads. You can learn to understand stats there as you read criticism of sports writing that doesn't.
posted by PhatLobley at 9:05 AM on June 9, 2008

If at all possible, go to games. If it's a MLB game, bring a little radio with an earpiece so that you can listen to the game as you watch it - sometimes things happen that, if you're up in the nosebleed section, leave you thinking "Why is everyone booing?", and there's no rewind in a live game. The radio guys will help you sort it out.

posted by rtha at 9:05 AM on June 9, 2008

Keeping score is fun but gambling is more. Whenever I go to a game with buddies we're usually playing some sort of bastardized version of what's called "moundball" and "home run derby." I'll explain both, separately.

Moundball is essentially a betting system around whether or not the ball will be left on the pitchers mound at the end of a half-inning. At the beginning of an inning, everyone puts $1 in a cup, and the cup is passed from gambler-to-gambler as each batter goes out or on base. After the defense gains their 3 outs, usually the catcher or whoever had the ball last will toss it in the general direction of the mound. We watch this rather morbidly to see if it actually makes it onto the mound dirt. If you're holding the cup and the ball makes it to the mound, you take all the dollars, and the game begins anew.

Home Run Derby is a similar concept. Everyone puts in a dollar at the start of the game and this continues every inning (or half inning, as you see fit) - passing the cup with each batter. If your batter hits a home run while you have the cup, you get the money and you start over.

Now, here's the fun part. You can make up rules about almost anything. We started by combining Moundball with HRD. From there we went on to add rules like if your batter hits into a DP you have to put in a dollar. If he charges the mound, you have to match whatever is in the cup. If there's a bench clearing brawl, everyone has to match the cup. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The list of rules we've made up now is so long none of us can remember it, so we have to be careful to list out which rules are in effect before playing now. Many times the people around us get wind of what we're doing and either want in on the action or start doing it themselves - its a ton of fun.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

To me, nothing beats actually going to the games, as it's alot easier to watch stuff like signs/defensive shifts/amazing plays.

Try to find a good stats website for your favorite team. SB Nation has some good ones depending on your team.

Personally, I prefer listening to the games rather than watching them on TV, but is pretty much the only game in town to do either. If you don't want to pay for it (the audio is pretty cheap, the video... not so much), just watch the gameday footage, which is a bit like a video game/stat version of each game. Otherwise, I follow the info on It gives text play-by-play and the more you go along the more you'll be able to figure out what the whole thing means.

Finally, seconding CWitt.
posted by drezdn at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2008

Two things I should add - it helps to balance rules that involve putting money in with rules that involve taking it out. So if you have a rule about paying the cup for charging the mound, you need one about taking the cup plus an extra dollar from everyone for a grand slam, etc.. The other thing is that any money in the cup at the end of the game can either go to the person holding the cup (lame) or be used for the first round of post-game beers (much better, unless you're holding the cup).
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:11 AM on June 9, 2008

Whatever you do, do not try to understand or appreciate baseball listening to Joe Morgan. Although I've never read it, Ted Williams' book is considered a classic. I am impressed by the reader reviews of it on Amazon: it sounds like a good way to learn to appreciate baseball.
posted by thomas144 at 9:17 AM on June 9, 2008

A lot of good tips here, but I think the single most important thing you can do is find a favorite team and learn as much about them as you can—subscribe to several team feeds from ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, SI, etc.; follow as many games as you can throughout on TV, radio (my preference), or GameDay on; read books about your team (3 Nights in August is a particularly good read for Cardinal's fans).

As you immerse yourself in your team, you'll start picking up other bits of information almost automatically: who their chief rivals are, who are the best players on the other teams in the division, whether your division is considered weak or strong. Before long, you'll not only have your team's 40 man roster memorized, but you'll know at least half of the players from each team in your division, and the rest of the league will slowly start to bleed in as well.

As I mentioned above, I think listening to a game on the radio is more enjoyable than watching it on TV, but YMMV. Baseball is my absolute favorite sport, and the Cardinals are my absolute favorite team, and the six months that they play each regular season are typically my favorite of the year. Good luck on learning to love such a fantastic sport, and whatever you do, don't become a Cubs fan. Or an Astros fan, for that matter.
posted by bjork24 at 9:20 AM on June 9, 2008

One more thing: your team's SB Nation site will post an open thread for each game of the season. Read them as the game is progressing, and when you feel comfortable enough with the crowd (and sport) feel free to start chiming in as well. Those threads are both entertaining and enlightening.
posted by bjork24 at 9:22 AM on June 9, 2008

Like recoveringsophist states, I developed a strong interest in baseball after focusing on a single team for their entire season. It started after I read an article about Ron Darling in Vanity Fair (maybe not the most conventional entrance into baseball) but it got me invested in one of the players and as I watched more games I got hooked on the team and the art of the game.

I enjoy watching the games on tv as I can see the pitches better and I try to call them before the ump and announcer do. If you've got a computer nearby during a game, has a real-time score card, Gameday, that shows exactly where the pitches come in, as well as base runners and player stats. I don't have cable either, and it's frustrating to be a baseball fan without cable as less than half of my home team games are available on broadcast.

Also consider going to some minor league games which are less crowded so you can get seats closer to the action. Regardless of whether I'm at the ball park or watching at home, I'm always hollering and cheering during the game. For some reason, vocalizing my joy or disappointment gets me invested in the game as well. My kid laughs at me when I do this, but I find she's also more interested in the game when I'm making noise.
posted by hoppytoad at 9:28 AM on June 9, 2008

I also recommend Out Of The Park. There are plenty of online leagues that resim baseball history, or even create their own alternate universes. If that isn't your cup of tea, then you can simulate your own league (using the Lahman database from

Also from a stats point of view, there is an O'Reilly book that you should find,
Baseball Hacks: Tips & Tools for Analyzing and Winning with Statistics
by Joseph Adler
posted by GurnB at 9:31 AM on June 9, 2008

Nthing going to games. I never liked baseball until I went to a Dodgers game.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:38 AM on June 9, 2008

Go to a game tonight. It's visceral for me... white jerseys, green fields, warm summer nights. Television does nothing for baseball.
posted by mumkin at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2008

If you can't go to the game, listen on the radio (or pay the relatively cheap subscription to's audio streams). If you can, listen on the radio.

I was introduced to baseball before I'd ever seen a game on TV, as a teenage insomniac who found Armed Forces Radio broadcasts on wheezy medium wave frequencies. Like cricket, baseball's pace and structure is well matched to radio: players in roughly fixed locations, there's plenty of time for rambling, etc. (For me, it was like learning a foreign language without ever quite grasping some of the vocabulary.)
posted by holgate at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2008

a friend of mine is currently reading "watching baseball smarter" by Zack Hemple and speaks well of it. Apparently it has a lot of "inside baseball" stuff about what's really going on between the pitcher and catcher and stuff like that, how to watch baseball on TV versus live, etc...

If you can handle the effusive Yankee love, some of the back-essays at Cecelia Tan's "Why I love baseball" blog can make pretty good reading. archives at and new content at

don't underestimate the fun of minor league ball, either. the players make more mistakes, are more likely to take weird risks, and the occasional major league player working thru rehab. plus cheaper seats and often more kid-friendly.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:58 AM on June 9, 2008

Find a local minor league team and go and watch them. The benefits of minor league baseball is that it's a whole heck of a lot cheaper and you can sit really closer to the action for just a few bucks (and eat and drink cheaper too).

You will see players on their way up to the big leagues learning their craft and if you're lucky some of the big name players on a rehab assignment coming back from the DL (or on the way down at the end of their playing career). If you sit close to the bullpen you can chat to the players between innings and find out about the game from them. You will see many more bone-headed bad plays and dumb mistakes in minor league games which go to making the game more entertaining and will help you to understand how well the "big club" players do their job.

IMO, minor league ball is way more fun than major league baseball... most of these guys are doing what they do because they love the game, not because they are being paid millions of dollars (although that of course is what is driving their ambition).
posted by 543DoublePlay at 10:03 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

and rmd1023 said it all for me while I was correcting typos in the preview.... of well
posted by 543DoublePlay at 10:04 AM on June 9, 2008

Great advice here for the most part. Go to a game, read moneyball, get into an SBNation blog, keep score (I love doing that). I've been a baseball fan all my life and have slowly been getting into sabrmetrics and I love that too.

Be careful about watching baseball tonight, because john kruk and some others (including that one former GM they have on sometimes) are gigantic idiots. But watching highlights, web gems, their "that's nasty" segment with tons of amazing pitches, is something I could do for hours on end. There are fewer things I find more fascinating than watching a pitcher at the top of his game blowing hitters away with physics-defying pitches. Watch The Angels' John lackey and Francisco Rodriguez, the A's Rich Harden, The Giants' Tim Lincecum, The Mets' Johan Santana, among others. Watching a truly great pitcher can be awe-inspiring.
posted by ORthey at 10:05 AM on June 9, 2008

Oh, and if you have decent local sports radio (not national), it's often worth putting on while you're doing something else, like driving to work or doing housework. This way, you get all the news, notes, and previews for the the team you're following, as well as a lot of entertaining color stories/asides/in-jokes. Just remember, you don't always (or ever!) have to agree.
posted by recoveringsophist at 10:06 AM on June 9, 2008

Nthing go to games.

also, when watching on TV, pay attention to the pitches & the strike count- what type of pitches is the pitcher throwing?, how fast?, what part of the plate is the pitcher aiming for? every at-bat is a one-on-one duel.
posted by gnutron at 10:08 AM on June 9, 2008

Oh, and I've found a lot of enjoyment watching historical baseball, played with late 19th century rules, uniforms, equipment, etc.. A quick googling didn't turn up any in your area, but a more concerted effort might.
posted by mumkin at 10:09 AM on June 9, 2008

If you like fantasy sports, join a fantasy baseball league. That'll go a long way towards helping you understand the analytics of the game and, if you don't have a specific team you root for, will help you stay interested in any game you watch/listen to that has one of your players.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 10:13 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Read The boys of Summer by Roger Kahn. You don't have to be a fan of any particular team to enjoy the mythos of Baseball as described in this book. I used to read it yearly during Spring Training.
posted by Gungho at 10:15 AM on June 9, 2008

I never really got baseball till I started going to games -- especially with other fans who really loved it, and were really good about explaining what was going on at any given moment. Find someone who's a fan not just of the team, but of the sport itself -- it will give you a completely new perspective. Baseball's a thing of beauty once you know what you're looking at!
posted by scody at 10:18 AM on June 9, 2008

Oh, and
As I mentioned, long-term you have to develop a love for the beauty of the game, so here are a few more tips:

-Find a friend and throw the baseball around; feel the seams, hear the snap of white cowhide on brown. Remember how close you were to standing to your friend when the right fielder guns someone down at home plate!
-Try to learn/understand the quirks of the rules and the game, like the Infield Fly Rule and the Dropped Third Strike. Often as not, there's a good story behind a rule you don't understand.
-Read up (Wikipedia in this case is a good start) on all the different pitches, and listen to the announcers name each pitch until you can start recognizing them on your own. Find out who executes each pitch best and watch them once or twice, regardless of team loyalties. This goes epecially for breaking balls.
-Develop strong, poorly-supported, emotional arguments about the differences between the AL and the NL, interleague play, the wildcard, and pitch counts.
-Complain that intentional walks are 'not part of the game.'
-Pick one of the big-spending teams and follow their every flaw, reveling in how much less your team is spending to get the same results. Unless you're from the requisite area, hate the Yankees.
-Follow hitting streaks; you'll eventually come to realize just how amazing 56 games is.
-Learn the quirks of different stadiums, from the cathedrals of the sport to the pitchers' nightmares.
-Follow trends in the game. Not just the increase of home runs, but the push to shorten the game, the increase in broken bats (and why!), and what styles of play lead to sustained success today.

As for your statisical interest, Bill James. Bill James. Bill James.
posted by recoveringsophist at 10:42 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had kind of lost touch with baseball during college, but Ken Burns' Baseball reignited my passion for the game big time. Plus, it's a great documentary anyway.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Leonard Koppett's the Thinking Fan's Guide to Baseball is the classic. (https link to circumvent Amazon's current outage)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2008

Oh and I guess that the closest minor league team to you would be the Durham Bulls? Holy shit, I would love to go there to see a game!!! Durham Bulls and Nook Laloosh!
posted by 543DoublePlay at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2008

Well, if your profile is correct and you are in North Carolina, that puts you squarely in Braves territory. I am a rabid, obsessed Braves fan. Those around me say that it's a wise idea to not speak to me for an hour or so after a Braves loss; for better or for worse I find myself as emotionally devastated by Braves losses as I do by personal setbacks. Sad, I know.

As a start, I'll give you some of the websites I visit regularly.

For general news, I find myself checking and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Braves Page compulsively. Specifically, within the AJC site, the main beat writer for the Braves, David O'Brien, has a fantastic blog that he updates every couple of days with inside info and notes that can't usually be found anywhere else. And in between each new post, he often writes late-breaking news and opinions in the comments section. Furthermore, there have been a spate of contributions from Braves players--including Chipper Jones and John Smoltz--in the past couple of seasons on O'Brien's blog.

Because you say you enjoy the statistics side of Baseball, let me highly recommend a few other sites. is a website that combines sabermetrics (baseball statistics) with economics, with a general emphasis on Braves issues. And, a broader statistics-based website, is one of my favorite places on the web. It is subscription based for the good stuff, unfortunately, but it's well worth the $5 per month if you're a baseball junkie like me. In fact, they have a great Braves article on the front page today.

And finally,, which is a Braves blog that has gone downhill a bit in recent seasons, is often a good website, as well as braves-nation, which has a very active forum section.

I apologize for being a bit biased in giving you Braves websites, however being in North Carolina I figure the Braves are the only team you can see on television and on local news outlets. And I would imagine most baseball fans around your area are Braves fans, so if you're going to pick a team to follow, why not the best? ;-)

Oh, and bonus points: and have tons of streaming sports, including almost every baseball game every day. For free.
posted by jckll at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2008

Oh, I meant to add (and other people have touched on it) look up rules that you don't understand. Knowing the subtleties of, say, the infield fly rule or a balk, make it much more interesting when it happens in a game.

Also, the more you know the more you can enjoy one of the other great aspects of baseball fandom: yelling at your TV when Tim McCarver says nonsensical crap.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:35 AM on June 9, 2008

I've never cared much about Baseball, as a spectator sport (I enjoy a pickup game now and then), but if anything got even a spark going, it was Ken Burn's documentary series. I watched the whole nine innings from beginning to end in one long marathon. I was utterly rapt until it got into the 1980s...the players and the scandals weren't as appealing anymore, somehow.
But still, 17 hours well-spent...
posted by I, Credulous at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2008

Nthing Moneyball, nthing Watching Baseball Smarter, and nthing falling in love with a team (go bosox!).

And it's too late for this season, but next season, join a fantasy baseball league. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just a simple 5x5 league. I joined this year for the first time and I have gone from passing interest to rabid baseball fan. I only used to follow the Red Sox (and Yankees, by default) and had hardly any knowledge of any other teams, let alone any NL teams. Fantasy baseball has changed that forever. I check my team multiple times a day, go to the gym just so I can watch game highlights on ESPN (I don't have cable either), subscribe to about seven fantasy baseball feeds, and even started a spreadsheet to track my progress. Baseball and I used to be casual acquaintances and now we're in a full-on love affair.
posted by kidsleepy at 12:36 PM on June 9, 2008

To get into the emotional aspect of baseball, I really don't think anything is better than "The Green Fields of the Mind" by A. Bartlett Giamatti. Giamatti, who happens to be Paul Giamatti's father, was an English professor, President of Yale, and Commissioner of Baseball, and this piece really demonstrates the emotional power of the game. I used to have a recording of him reading it, which was amazing, but I no longer remember where it went or where I found it.

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.
posted by ecab at 12:44 PM on June 9, 2008

As a lifelong baseball player and fan, I found myself with a wife and two daughters who never deveoped any appreciation for the game. But recently there's abeen a slight breakthrough. I have the cable service that lets me watch my beloved Indians games (as well as the rest of MLB) and I do so regularly. When my teenagers sat with me and said it was boring, I suggested they look at it as an ongoing reality TV show ... which in a way, it is. Then you stop seeing guys with funny pants and start seeing characters: the upstart rookie, the aging pitcher using guile, the big ticket free agent getting booed, the ace from last year who has suddenly lost it; the sucky veteran who is hanging on to his career by a thread. Now when my 15-year-old wanders by, she wonders whether Cabrera is back above .200, or if Hafner ever found the magic, or how many more pitchers can possible get hurt. Maybe looking at baseball in this way will work for you. And along the way you'll just absorb the strategy and details. Oh, and Go Tribe.
posted by lpsguy at 12:45 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

As far as the nuts and bolts of the game, I cannot recommend former Mets and Cards first baseman Keith Hernandez's Pure Baseball highly enough. I was a lifelong fan, but reading that book completely changed the way I watch the game.

There is nothing in sports comparable to the constant battle between pitcher and batter. If you're paying attention, it can be almost as enjoyable to watch a ten-run game as a close game, because that battle, those mindgames, that struggle to execute, is always going on. If you're really involved in it, trying to anticipate what the pitcher might do, watching baseball is as absorbing as reading a good book.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Very, very surprised that this many responses have been fielded without a single mention of Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

Moneyball and Science of Hitting are definitely recommended reads, but Ball Four was the first book to drop the curtain and show the world what baseball players are really like. It may seem tame by today's standards, but prior to its publication, only insiders had any idea just how much drug using, womanizing, and other misanthropy was an institutionalized part of the player experience. Bouton plays the just-an-average-guy angle perfectly as he wades through the insanity of the last days before the free agent era.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:37 PM on June 9, 2008

For the record, in the current month, I am going to both a minor league and a major league game this month.

I have a to the Jacksonville Suns game this weekend. Total cost (not including transportation) $23. With a ticket right behind home plate (awesome seat, but you probably want a seat near first or third, to see what the pitcher is pitching).

The same seat for the Tampa Bay Rays game the following weekend would have cost nearly 10 times as much. I did get a seat in the same general vicinity, but way the hell up in press box area, for $10 more.

Also, it is true, you'll see more obvious mistakes (and thus appreciate them) in the minors than the majors. In particular, I've seen lots of plays where someone missed covering a base when the 1st (or 2nd) baseman had to field a ball.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:10 PM on June 9, 2008

Oooh! Another thing I forgot to mention (and I think it's too late, now) is to join a fantasy league. I haven't had time lately, but even the free Yahoo leagues from a few years ago taught me more than all the watching of baseball on TV. I think baseball more than any American sport suffers the most from watching it on TV.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:12 PM on June 9, 2008

I recommend Roger Angell's books on baseball - he's a great writer with a deep love of the game.

Other than that, I recommend falling in love with a team. I am not so much a baseball fan as I am a Blue Jays fan. (Speaking of which, I have to go lie down now and whimper.)
posted by davetill at 4:35 AM on June 10, 2008

Michael Chabon's book Summerland (sort of a Harry Potter with baseball instead of wizards) contains the following quote:

"a baseball game is nothing but a great slow contraption for getting you to pay attention to the cadence of a summer day"

which really captures how I feel about baseball.
posted by Overzealous at 5:54 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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