How People Come to Attach Undue Importance to Batting Average

Sus came for a visit this past weekend, so Friday night she, SB and I went to CitiField for the Mets-Angels game. It turned out to be a beautiful night for baseball, despite the fact that in the process of getting from work to the game I got completely drenched by rain once, avoided a second soaking only because of a well-placed scaffolding, and nearly got my eye poked out by an oblivious idiot with a golf umbrella (who did not even pause in his stride after sideswiping both Sus and me hard enough that the bouncer at a nearby bar asked if we were all right). Anyway, I ended up alone in my seat for some time while SB and Sus went to fetch food from the Shake Shack stand beyond the outfield (though they ended up with Blue Smoke, because the Shake Shack line was ages long.  Citi Field isn’t even opening all of their regular concession stands at the moment, but the outfield area is thriving).

Not having anyone to talk to, I could not help overhearing the conversation in front of me, carried on by a father and his young daughter (maybe 7 or 8), who was clearly attending her first baseball game as a conscious spectator.  Even though she seemed most excited at the revelation that Kesha was in attendance, the little girl did try to follow what her dad was trying to teach her about the basic rules of the game, with amusing results. Some highlights:

Dad attempts to explain how to read the scoring line on the jumbotron, in the top of the third inning

“See the top line is the inning, and then below it it shows how many runs each team scored in the inning, and it adds up at the end.”

“Oooooooh! So it was 1 to 0, then 1 to 1, and now the Angels have 1 and the Mets have [looks at blank space on scoreboard] whatever.”

Dad attempts to explain walks.

“Why is he going to first? He didn’t hit the ball.”

“Well, the pitcher only has a certain number of tries to get the batter out, if he doesn’t throw a strike it’s called a ball, and after four balls, it’s a walk, and the batter gets to go to first base.”

“Oh! So he walks instead of running. Why doesn’t he walk to second? No one’s trying to get him out.”

And my favorite, Dad attempts to explain batting average, during an early Daniel Murphy at bat.

“Every third time he’s up, he gets a hit.”

“How come?”

[Daniel Murphy promptly hit a triple,  delighting the girl and probably ensuring she grows up thinking batting average is a really accurate statistic.]

They left around the fifth or sixth inning, possibly because she was cold (it was a bit chilly after the sun went down), or possibly because the father didn’t want to explain the occasional boos from the crowd as the Mets’ pitching and defense continued to allow the Angels to go ahead every time the offense tied it up.  I hope she had enough fun to give it another try; I was about her age when baseball finally started to click for me.  Of course, my team made the World Series that year, which also helped.

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