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Get a Media Guide

I grew up walking distance from Candlestick Park.  If I was so inclined (and my family had the money), I could have grown up a merch whore, but as it stands, the only team store artifacts that survived from my childhood were a San Francisco Giants portable television and a stack of information guides.  The television still works, even though there's no longer a broadcast signal for it to receive, but despite its 20+ years of loyal service, I feel I got more from one year with each of the guides than I ever did from the TV.

I wasn't a precocious stat head as a toddler or anything.  At first, I really just enjoyed the large and color action photography of the 49ers guide (like Tiger Beat with pads and helmets) and whatever broken sentences an elementary reading level could glean from the Giants guide.  Eventually, however, I arrived at their intended use: opulent and unadulterated information.

Now, that may not seem very valuable to you, especially if you grew up in a time when being asked about someone's batting average didn't prompt you to dig out a baseball card or an information guide, but take my word for it when I say it was a precious resource.   

And I find I still use media guides today.  They're just the best source of information sometimes.  If I want to know if a college hockey player has gotten taller or heavier, read the narrative of his last year in school or what he accomplished in minor hockey, you can't really beat the team's media guide for accuracy and concentration of information.  And the Ducks' media guide (clocking in at a whopping 369 pages last year and a robust 318 this year) is just a staggering compendium of team history, facts and stats.  The answer to most Ducks-related questions is in there somewhere.

Honestly, though, sometimes I just flip through them.  It's not that I care that 11 players in Anaheim history have worn the number 17 or that Sheldon Brookbank is privy to a family recipe for beef brisket, but sometimes you just want to know more about your team.  The absorption of that information, however useless, constitutes knowing more about your team. 

And if I could recommend one thing to enhance the experience of watching a professional sports team, it would be to know more about it.  Without backstory and exposition, every game is just a game, forced to create its own storylines for your amusement.  But if you can create your own Act I before the first whistle blows, then every box score is compelling, every game dramatic and every win dénouement.