Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Watching Baseball Smarter (Book #88)

Until I read Watching Baseball Smarter (Zack Hample, 2007), I would've said I knew a little bit about baseball. You see, I'm married to a serious baseball geek, and I spend time on stathead blogs like USS Mariner and Lookout Landing. Compared to those guys I don't know anything, and I expected to learn a lot from the Hample book. But I didn't. Sure, there were plenty of little details I hadn't noticed, particularly nuances of NL play, and anecdotes I hadn't heard, but I didn't learn anything that will enhance my enjoyment of the next Mariners game I attend. It's a perfectly good book, but it's written for a newer, less knowledgeable fan than me. Turns out I was already watching baseball pretty smartly.

I've had things like this happen before. I tend to downplay my own level of expertise. Maybe it's a female thing, or maybe it's a byproduct of being the brainy kid in a small-town school and trying to downplay my intelligence to fit in better. But I measure myself against the biggest expert I know, and if I can't match them, I say I know "a little." Because I don't know baseball like the guys who run USS Mariner, I know a little about baseball. Because I don't (yet) know the Peninsular War as well as Bernard Cornwell, I say I know a little about the Peninsular War. Or I used to, until I learned that saying that led people on one of my writers' loops to explain things to me like how the purchase of commissions worked or why infantry formed squares to face cavalry charges, using words of two syllables or less. This drove me crazy, because I've known that stuff for YEARS. Finally I realized I was setting myself up for it by saying I knew a little when I actually know quite a lot. I just had no idea the same was true of baseball.

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