Book: The View from the Stands: A Season with America's Baseball Fans
Author: Johanna Wagner
I recently have had the chance to receive a couple of books to read, which is always much appreciated and before I even start here I want to again thank Johanna Wagner for her generosity in giving me the opportunity.
View from the Stands is the story of Johanna Wagner traveling to all 30 of Major League Baseball's stadiums in 2002. Her story of becoming a baseball fan itself is unique and I found it really interesting, as I find the way people become lifelong fans of things to be kind of crucial to how they see the game or certain players or teams. She is a Reds fan originally from Ohio, growing up on the Big Red Machine. You can always sense, and she occasionally seems to admit as much, that in the back of her mind she is comparing everything to those Reds teams and Riverfront Stadium.
There is sort of a lather, rinse, repeat formula to the book, as it doesn't exactly go in chapters but instead runs in more of a journal entry-style manner, going from game to game with chapter breaks to talk about other things in between.
The game stories are sometimes tedious, but that's just because some games and certain stadiums probably didn't result in much to talk about. When Wagner gets something out of a stadium or a game or its fans (the Giants and then-Pac Bell Park, for instance), she is able to tell a good and interesting story.
The one thing that stuck out about this book more than anything, besides any of the game stories, was the way the author recognizes that there are serious problems with MLB's handling of fan-related issues, from ticket and concession prices to making the stadium experience an enjoyable and bonding one for the fans of whichever team it is.
View from the Stands is part the travels of a fan and part the business of Major League Baseball, but not the business they talk about or that most writers talk about; the business of MLB's fans, one that is seemingly a complete afterthought with everything else that goes on, but may be one of the easiest to actually fix.
There are some editing problems with the book, spelling of names and such, but other than that I generally had a good time reading this book. It won't tell you anything new, really, and there are no stat tables. But it's a nice, short, and breezy read for a weekend.