One of the best of the annual baseball books (and the only one to come out in time for Christmas) – The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 – is available and now shipping. If you’ve never read the Annual before, it’s a terrific mix of statistics (both fun and in-depth) and commentary from some of the best writers on the web.
This year, for example, the Annual features articles by Rob Neyer, John Dewan, Craig Calcaterra, Sean Smith, Dave Cameron, Tom Tango, and more to go alongside the articles from regular THT contributors like Chris Jaffe, Steve Treder, and Dave Studenmund. You should really order it as soon as you can.
Order The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 from Acta Sports today
To top it off, I’ve contributed two different articles to the Annual. The first is “The Year in Taters”, a look at home runs (and home run trots) across the league:
(Click “Read More” to continue reading.)
Plus, walk-off home runs aren’t exactly common. In 2010, 73 games ended with a home run. That may seem like a lot (it means that there was a walk-off home run around the league, on average, once every two or three nights), but it gets pretty thin when spread across 30 clubs. In the entire year, a full season-ticket holder for an average team could expect to see only two or three walk-off home runs.
If there was ever any doubt about just how exciting these events are, one need only watch the way the players on the field celebrate. The typical celebration sees the 20-plus players in the dugout of the winning team swarm onto the field and collect around home plate, leaving only a small mouth in the circle for the batter to run through. As the batter reaches the circle—through a hard run, a slow crouch, or an emphatic leap—it closes in as his teammates jump up and down with congratulatory slaps on the back and head.
It’s a mini-mosh pit of joy.
The second article is a bit shorter called “At the Ballpark in the 21st Century”. In the article, I take a look at what it’s like going to a baseball game these days, especially considering how so many “local traditions” – like the Miller Park Sausage Race or Wrigley Field’s home run throwback – are being spread across the country.
There is no doubt, however, that the details of a typical ballpark experience are changing. With expansion and relocation, Major League Baseball has seen new teams in roughly 12 new cities since 1969. Coupled with the new ballpark craze of the last 15 years, that’s suddenly a lot of new tradition that needs to be created where there never was any before. Teams are bound to experiment with new ideas and copy those that they see succeed elsewhere until they find what works best for their fans.
Now that we’re 10 years into the 21st century, it’s worth asking how these new changes and refinements are working out, especially considering the way the internet, mobile communications, and satellite/cable TV have seemingly shrunk the nation. Is there reason to worry about where the in-stadium experience is heading, or can we all take a cue from the holistic fans and relax about the future?
You can read the rest of the two articles by ordering The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 today (that is, of course, if my two excerpts didn’t turn you off of it). I promise you’ll be happy you did. And, hey, if you’ve already ordered it for yourself, don’t forget that it makes a great Christmas present! Enjoy!