The latest â€˜baseball is comingâ€™ moment of my offseason arrived this Sunday morning as I sat reading the new Baseball Prospectus annual over breakfast.
At first glance, the 2014 edition is a return to form for BP. Iâ€™ve been buying their annual season starter since 2005 and the 2013 edition was the first time that I was left disappointed. The team essays that had previously been used to delve into all manner of subjects â€“ from statistical research articles to the more quirky trivia around a team â€“ were turned into generic summaries, whilst the player comments had lost their zip and, in some cases, their amusing spite.
I wasnâ€™t the only reader to feel this way and thankfully BP have listened and made positive changes for 2014, in particular by handing over every team essay to a different person to bring their own viewpoint and writing style to the mix. Iâ€™ll put together a full review in the next few weeks, but the short version is that you shouldnâ€™t let any understandable disappointment of last yearâ€™s effort put you off buying it this year.
If you go to Amazon.co.uk youâ€™ll find that the book is not due to be published until 26 February. However, search for â€˜Baseball Prospectusâ€™ and then click on the â€˜Kindle Booksâ€™ tab and you can see that the e-book version is available to download already. Itâ€™s currently listed Â£12.47 for the e-book compared with Â£15.24 for the paperback.
I do miss the initial pleasure of taking the 600-page tome out of its packaging and thumbing through it for the first time, but the convenience of the e-book version is undeniable (no long wait at the local Post Office depot to pick it up, not being weighed down on the work to walk when you want to read it at lunch time etc) and that includes being able to click a button and have it on your device within a minute.
Patience is a virtue, but after three long months without baseball games to watch I think I can be forgiven for not wanting to wait another month before being able to delve into the book.
Itâ€™s another example of how the digital age of the last 15 years or so has transformed the way baseball fans outside of North America can follow the sport. It wasnâ€™t long ago that you had to go through specialist retailers and pay over the odds for imports if you wanted to get hold of books or magazines. Now we can access them almost as readily as fans in the States.
We should also learn more about the 2014 MLB.TV subscriptions in the very near future. Last year the details were announced on 5 February, so thereâ€™s a good chance weâ€™ll find out what features will be available, and at what cost, in the coming week or so. Iâ€™ll review the offerings here as soon as they are released.
The next time you shake your head at the thought of some of the rubbish the internet and other digital devices have led too â€“ from selfies to Twitter abuse â€“, itâ€™s worth remembering that the 2014 baseball season is on its way and, thanks to to the internet, weâ€™ll be able to enjoy it in full from Britain.