Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Big Book of Baseball Brainteasers, by Dom Forker, Robert Obojski, Wayne Stewart

The Big Book of Baseball Brainteasers, by Dom Forker, Robert Obojski, Wayne Stewart

On the surface baseball looks fairly simple, but read a couple of pages from anywhere in this book and you’ll quickly find a lot more to it than expected. The different chapters focus on various parts of the game: the infield, the outfield, base runners, umps, and so on. There is a mix of anecdotes, trivia, and puzzlers which illustrate different rules and situations. Well organized, even if not well written!

The style of writing made several of the puzzles quite difficult to follow. Instead of a straightforward layout of a siuation (“Runners on first and third with one out”) we plow through prose like, “The Cardinals have one out, Vince Coleman on third base, Willie McGee on first base, and a rookie who is trying to make the St. Louis ball club at the plate.” While that imagery is great when listening to a game on the radio, it sucks when the idea is to figure out the proper call when a base running error occurs.

That said, I learned a lot from this book. For instance, if a thrown glove makes contact with a live ball, the play is ruled a triple. If a fence is closer than 250 feet from home plate, a ball hit over it is a double and not a home run. If a batted ball strikes an umpire in fair territory before touching a fielder, the ball is dead; however, if it strikes an ump after passing a fielder other than the pitcher, it is considered fair. Great stuff!

First Sentence:
Some people claim that umpires give certain players the benefit of the doubt: Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, for example, Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn, too.

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