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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2011
I recently got into Baseball and was desperate for a book aimed at people who really know very little about it. I knew the basics, such as the difference between a ground out and a fly out, but wanted to put some substantial meat on the bones. I purchased this book, together with baseball for dummies and beyond batting average. This book was fantastic, the other 2 have their strong points, but for anyone in a similar position to me, they should buy this book now.

It guides you not just through the rules, but also such useful stuff as how the draft works (so different from NFL draft which i am much more familiar with,) what/why players chew and what pine tar is. Having read this book I feel i can sit and watch ESPN America all day long and actually understand what I am watching. At it's most basic level Baseball is a very simple game, it's just been Americanised to make it seem complicated. This book kind of breaks down these barriers by explaining it all in plain English. Very highly recommended.
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Watching Baseball Smarter will appeal to youngsters around 9-12 who are eager to grab as much baseball knowledge as possible by attending and watching games on television. For those young people, scoring, colorful terms, and obscure rules can make the game seem more mysterious than it is. At the same time, learn those elements of active watching and a youngster can develop the basics to enjoy being a lifelong fan.

If someone had given me this book at that age, I would have treasured Watching Baseball Smarter above all over gifts I got that at that time. I would have been most thrilled by the illustrations of how the various pitches are thrown.

Remember that observation when you consider if you know any budding fans who would be thrilled to have this book.

As for the claim that the book is also for semi-experts and deeply serious geeks, I don't think so. I didn't see any material that wasn't well known to me by the time I was 15. And I was hardly a semi-expert or a deeply serious geek. I just enjoyed watching and attending the games.

Don't give this book to a serious baseball fan; you'll embarrass yourself if you do.

Here are few questions to test your ability to enjoy the book:

1. What is the infield fly rule?

2. What is a double switch?

3. What is a catcher's earned run average?

4. What is a safety squeeze?

5. How do you keep score?

If know all five, this book isn't for you. If you know four, you'll get an occasional nugget from the book. If you know three or fewer, this book is a good choice for you.

On this reading, the main pleasure was from remembering when I first learned the material and from an occasional bit of trivia that was new to me. The former pleasure was what kept me reading, and I was disappointed that the book was aimed mostly at an elementary level . . . having found the subtitle to be misleading in terms of the book's relevance for me.

Play ball!
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on 2 November 2012
I'm a relative newbie baseball fan who, over the last couple of years, from the 'wrong' side of the Atlantic (for viewing purposes, at least) has become an obsessive Blue Jays fan.

I know the difference between an ERA and a WHIP. I can appreciate a 6-4-3 double play and I am easily impressed by anyone who can switch-hit. But I wanted to know more and the title of Mr. Hample's book seemed to offer the opportunity to increase my knowledge. And that's exactly what it did: informative, funny and well-written - all that I hoped for and exactly what it said on the cover.

The only thing that prevented it from being a five star review was that it hasn't been updated since 2008, which was a shame as it was factually a little out of date.
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on 15 September 2011
This book really blew me away, AT LAST a fan friendly book, one that actually speaks to you. This has been so far the most valuable purchase on THE best sport in the WORLD! I knew some of the general basic stuff but this book has really boosted my knowledge of baseball, covering everything from stratigic baserunning, to scoring, learning game slang and also other little things you wouldn't know about the sport.

By far the best baseball book i have read, even the baseball for dummies (which can sometimes be a bit 'empty' in content and occasionally be a bit 'dence'. Wether your a new comer, casual follower or someone teaching their kids. However if you have been watching the 'big game' for years, i probably wouldn't go out straight away and buy it as you'd probably only get 5 or 6 pages tops out of this book.

Great as a gift for that baseball fan in your family, or even a curious person who has stumbled across the 5 Live Sports Extra coverage, even have seen a game at their local diamond this is the book for you.

Get the word out, this is the best sport in the world!

Informative: 10/10
Useful 10/10
Bang for buck (worth it's money) 10/10
Author: 10/10
Fun: 8/10
Illustrations: 5/10
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on 1 May 2014
I knew nothing about Baseball three weeks ago when I picked up a game for my console to try it out. I watched a couple of games on ESPN and started to figure it out, but you can only learn so much by watching a sport that the announcers don't explain because they assume their whole audience grew up playing it.

This book is excellent. It is well written, explains everything in layman's terms and is entertaining to read. The author goes through the rules, the history and the controversies of Baseball and I just wanted to keep on reading. None of it was dry, boring or statistical.
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on 31 August 2011
This is the first book I bought on baseball, and I loved it. It helped me understand all the funny little quirks that baseball has.
Being in the UK, and not having a big Baseball culture here, it's not as easy to pick up and understand the complicated intricacies of this great game.
Zack Hample fills the book with a tonne of fascinating stats, stories and facts. For example, I didn't know where artificial grass got it's name from; you'd be surprised.
This review would get the full 5 stars were I reviewing the paperback version, however, the Kindle version has some downsides the paper back wouldn't. For example, every now and again, there are letters missing from words. For example, it will tell you that "[name] it the ball hard to left center field". I can only imagine that he meant 'hit' the ball. I would put this down to the way the book is digitized for the kindle and requires a little ironing out. Otherwise, the book is a great beginner for anyone looking to learn how to watch the game and understand what it means. It won't tell you how to play the game, it allows you to watch with better knowledge. I'm already reading the other book by Hample and expect much of the same.The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches (Vintage)
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on 25 April 2015
Not as lengthy a book as some, but most terms are usefully defined. Kindle version is not as useful (on my very basic Kindle reader) as it's not as easy to jump back and forth between text and glossary. Overall, enjoyable, informative and reasonably light-hearted.
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on 31 March 2015
Brilliant book. Perfectly written. I already knew enough about baseball to sit down and watch any game, but this book takes it to another level and has taught me far more. I guess a lot of it might be obvious if you're from a traditional baseball country, but for us Brits I'd really recommend it for anyone who is watching or playing baseball.
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on 3 August 2009
really good for those who don't know anything about baseball but like to watch it on tv
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on 6 October 2011
As a follower of Baseball in the UK, I found this book an invaluable guide to improving my knowledge and expanding my horizons. I like to think of it as the book that covers all the things that you would be told by a more knowledgeable fan when your interest in baseball has been piqued, which is especially useful in a niche sport such as baseball. The breadth of topics discussed keeps the book interesting throughout, and you finish it with a far better appreciation of the sport as a whole.

Incidentally, Zack has wrote another book 'the Baseball', which while interesting is no-where near as all-inclusive and enjoyable.
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