August 30, 2023 at 12:40 a.m.

Little knowledge was a lot annoying

Back in the Saddle


Editor’s note: This column is being reprinted from Aug. 27, 2003. This one was particularly amusing. It can be fun to listen to the conversations of fans whose knowledge is limited at best. And it’s not at all unusual for the loudest to make it clear they’re the least knowledgeable in the crowd.

We knew we were in trouble before the bottom half of the first inning.

Sitting in great box seats along third base line at Victory Field in Indianapolis, we were hoping to squeeze the last bit of baseball enjoyment out of August.

But a young woman behind us had other ideas.

She was an expert.

Or, more accurately, she thought she was an expert.

“I understand the game so much more since I started reading Money Ball,” she said early on, as the three of us were cast in the unwanted role of eavesdroppers.

That should have been a tip-off right there.

She didn’t say, “since I read Money Ball.” She said, “since I started reading Money Ball.”

The talkative fan behind us hadn’t even bothered to finish a book before sharing her new-found baseball knowledge with the lowly masses.

In case you’ve never heard of Money Ball, it’s an account of how a brilliant baseball executive put together a winning team in Oakland using an unorthodox way of measuring player success.

It’s supposed to be excellent, though I haven’t read it yet.

Neither, of course, had the fan behind us.

As a poster child for a-little-knowledge-is-a-dangerous-thing, she continued to lecture and opine for her mother and some old guy who was either incredibly patient or blessedly deaf for the full nine innings.

By about the second inning, she pronounced the opposing pitcher “cold.”

“And he knows it,” she added. This, in spite of the fact that the Indianapolis Indians had already given up four runs and were in danger of getting completely blown out of their home stadium.

And on, and on it went.

Her one lesson from the book, based upon how frequently it was repeated, was that on-base percentages are important, whether they’re the result of hitting or walks.

True enough, but it’s hardly the sort of thesis one stitches together for a dissertation.

We did our best to tune her out, but I also found myself wondering.

Was she trying to impress somebody?

Her mom?

Or the deaf guy?

Or us?

Could she have carried on that same routine as a soliloquy if she’d come to the game alone? Wouldn’t it be terrible to be trapped beside her on a long airplane flight?

Though the Indians rallied, they were having trouble getting into the game, but our self-appointed visiting lecturer still seemed to think it was the opposing team that was in trouble.

Then, about the seventh or eighth inning, the catcher for the opposing team got mouthy with the umpire over a questionable call. Next thing we knew, he was headed for the dugout.

And our loquacious expert was clueless.

“If this manager thinks that changing catchers is going to improve the pitching, he’s kidding himself,” she pronounced.

We didn’t have the heart to tell her. Besides, we couldn’t have gotten a word in edgewise.


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