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The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player Hardcover – April 5, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Psychology promises access to the deepest recesses of the human mind, but once we get there, they strongly resemble neural synapses. Baseball at least lends itself to discussions of psychology, as it is the national sport that depends least on sheer strength or speed and most on hand-eye coordination, and its leisurely pace elevates nerve over adrenaline. The yawning chasm separating Tony Gwynn and Mario Mendoza (the latter famous for not hitting well) seems to reside more than usually inside the cranium. University of Missouri psychology professor Stadler splits his book evenly between the neurology of performance and the more workaday issues of pressure that fans ponder. The sections on hitting a pitch and tracking a fly ball, with their emphasis on optics and motor reflexes, are more successful than the chapter on pitching, as it may be more difficult to reduce the act of "painting the black" (i.e., putting a hard pitch exactly in the right place) to a mechanistic feedback loop. The book picks up interest when Stadler turns to the true mysteries of baseball: the storied streaks and slumps, its dismaying chokes, that ineffable X factor that makes this draft pick an All-Star and that one a dud. Showing a pleasing tendency to avoid cant and received conclusions, Stadler deftly marshals a wide variety of evidence to arrive at some canny conclusions. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Baseball fans have all heard hitters on a hot streak say--self-effacingly, of course-- "Well, the ball just looks bigger to me." Stadler, a college professor specializing in cognitive psychology, analyzes recent research suggesting that maybe they actually do see it better. Stadler's basic premise is that baseball is at least as much a mental exercise as a physical one. He examines the visual acuity needed to see a ball hurtling toward home plate at 95 miles an hour, determines that batters lose sight of the ball at some point, and then presents the mental gyrations--calculated in hundredths of a second--that end with bat meeting ball. Or not. Interestingly, he also cites studies suggesting that steroids improve not only strength but also vision. Along the way, he debunks a couple of myths, such as the "rising fastball." He also asks crucial questions for which research offers no definitive answers: Why do some players perform better than others in pressure situations? Particularly interesting is a chapter on the nature of fandom. Why are we fans? What do we gain? Are there negative aspects? Fans of any sport--not just baseball--will be galvanized by the information presented, the questions asked, and the theories posed. Despite its eggheady title, this could become one of the hot baseball books of the year. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (April 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402755
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402755
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,723,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Daniel Crosby on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Psychology of Baseball" is well-researched, thorough, and has greatly enhanced my watching of the game. Stadler combs through a wealth of archival research that explores the psychology and physiology of hitting, pitching and fielding. I now have a new respect for the players, and my love of baseball has taken on a new dimension thanks to this book. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
The research and information present in this book is top notch. This author knows his stuff inside out.

On the flipside it's delivery "paints the corners" of becomming a bone dry Psychology textbook. Young readers curious for a mild read may lose their grip on this one. I found myself skipping pages upon pages of statistical analysis.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be an interesting read and generally felt that Stadler (2007) performed admirably in writing about a complex topic. Stadler is a academic by trade, having earned a Ph.D from Purdue University and working as a Psychology professor at the University of Missouri, which works to his advantage in the creation of this book. Stadler breaks the book down into chapters centered around the processes involve with hitting baseballs, catching baseballs, pitching, creating a baseball team through player analysis, performing in the clutch, and the psychology of the sports fan.

Each chapter was written in an accessible format and style with copious amounts of statistical analysis and psychological research woven within to provide logical support for the claimes being presented. Because the information provided is quite advanced and grounded in academic research many casual fans might be turned away by the elevated nature of the book. However, for fans yearning for more understanding about the game they love and the psychological processes involved, the statistics and research utilized make for a fascinating read that serves as both entertainment and an avenue for acquisition of knowledge.

Overall, it was a nice read. I was entertained and gained the most use from the chapters about sports fans and the psychological aspects of selecting players for baseball team rosters. Like several others who have written a review of this book on Amazon.com, I too was slightly bored and overwhelmed with the physics and psychology involved with catching a baseball. To conclude, The Psychology of Baseball by Mike Stadler (2007) was time well spent for me and I feel like I gained some usual knowledge and perspective about the game.
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Format: Hardcover
The title is a misnomer. Stadler spends more paper space discussing the Neurophysiological aspects of hitting, pitching, and fielding, or reviewing arguments for and against some of baseball's commonly held beliefs, than he does discussing psychology proper.

Although though the book fails to deliver on the title's promise, I did find it interesting, and I think most serious baseball fans will enjoy Stadler's analysis of the sport. I even think it is worth keeping in my library, although I am tempted to tape over the spine and write: The Neurophysiological and Statistical Analysis of Baseball
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not embarrassed to say I quickly got lost and bored reading this book. I started out in earnest, then as Stadler got into the details of his LOT models and strategies, generalized optical acceleration cancellations, coarticulations, psychometrics, physics, even NASA (!)...and beyond, I started skimming pages, then skipping paragraphs and then jumping pages. When I began to skip chapters to "get to the good stuff," I decided to reach for another book.

I can't imagine the kind of baseball fan or player that would take the time to closely read the fatiguing analysis of catching wind-blown flyballs, hitting a monster curve ball, or throwing a tricky, rising (?) fastball, and more...although there must be lots of them who need/want this information. --But it's definitely more fun playing the game!

It's a good, solid work. There's no getting around that, and there are probably plenty of readers beyond psychologist types who would fully understand and enjoy author Stadler's effort. For me, however, a true "died-in-the-wool" baseball fan for over 30 years, it turned out to be quite over my head and beyond my sphere of interest.
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