Understand databases and learn to read and write SQL queries.
In this book, I use a SQL database to query and store data. Specifically, I use MySQL. MySQL is a relational database, not unlike Microsoft Access, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2, or any number of other expensive products that companies run on big, back-room servers. This hack describes the basics of databases and introduces Simple Query Language (SQL), which is the way you communicate with a database.
I suggest that you use MySQL for three reasons. First, it’s free. Second, a MySQL database of baseball data that you can easily download and install is available free of charge. And finally, MySQL is very stable and robust, so you are assured fast performance and few errors.
If you’re using another database, the basic techniques described in this book will still work for you. However, other databases might use slightly different notations for tasks such as adding users, creating tables, and managing your database.
To begin using MySQL, you need to run the mysql program from a command line. (The database server is called MySQL. It includes a command-line tool called mysql that you can use to query your MySQL database.) On Microsoft Windows, go to the Start menu, select Programs → MySQL → MySQL Server 4.1 → MySQL Command Line Client. A window will open prompting you for a password. Type in your password and press Enter. You should see a prompt like this:
Enter password: ...