Taking someone to their first baseball game can be a pretty fun experience. You get to reignite your passion for the game by showing someone all the intricacies of baseball – the hit and run, stealing a base, and the magic that is baseball. But inevitably the time comes when the newbie asks you: “so, what do all those numbers on the scoreboard mean?”
Now you have two options – tell them about all those stats on the screen, or whip out a copy of The New Ballgame by Glenn Guzzo, a sportswriter and seamhead who has broken down baseball statistics so that the first time fan can understand them.
As he states in Chapter One, “statistics are the language of baseball. That language is becoming harder to understand every year.” With the rise in sabermetrics, the language has added several new levels beyond what just shows up on the scoreboard – and Guzzo does a really nice job breaking it all down. He teaches you how to read a box score, how to understand what the radio announcer is talking about, and even how to keep score at a ballgame.
The New Ballgame kinds of reminds you of the “For Dummies” books that dominated bookstores a while back – but it feels like it was written at just a bit of a higher level. Guzzo uses lots of current, real world examples to show why statistics matter in baseball and why they cause such a fuss. He explains why the team that wins the World Series isn’t always the team that had the best regular season record, and why even with all the vast information that teams have in front of them, there is still plenty of human influence in how a game is played.
So whether you’re found a new love for the game, or you’ve found a new love who’s new to the game, The New Ballgame is an easy read that is a great introduction to the language of baseball statistics. It’s also a great refresher for the more seasoned fan, as it helps bring you up to speed with the current evolution of this complicated language. While it may not make you fully versed in every statistic, it’ll certainly make you more than able to hold your own at the next game.