Tag Archives: Keeping score

Weekly Hit Ground Ball: Good Friday by name …

WHGB11Good Friday loomed like a bad omen this week.

The schedule of MLB Spring Training games that day included starts for four pitchers on my recently-drafted fantasy baseball roster. Poor performances, or worse an injury or two, seemed a certainty.

Jon Lester was on the mound for the Cubs against the Brewers, Jose Quintana was pitching for the White Sox against the Mariners, and the Indians-Diamondbacks game featured Corey Kluber and Shelby Miller.

Consequently, the latter had to be my choice for the evening’s entertainment, forgoing an Oakland A’s appearance for pitching prospect Sean Manaea against the Angels in the process. Such was my enthusiasm that I grabbed a pencil and a blank scorecard and got stuck into some Spring Training score-keeping practice.

Shelby Miller was a bit sketchy to start with, including plunking Cleveland’s catcher Yan Gomes on the shoulder in the second inning, but his defence helped to keep runs off the board. Wellington Castillo negated a first-inning lead-off single by Tyler Naquin by foiling an attempted stolen base and Miller’s infielders turned a double-play in the second inning.

Miller settled down from there and produced the highlight of the game with a reflex catch on a come-backer between his legs to end the fourth inning. It’s not often that I would dish out a scorecard star for a Spring Training game, but this effort deserved one.

Cleveland’s Naquin did hit a homer off him to lead-off the sixth inning and to celebrate being told that he would make the Indians’ opening day roster earlier that day. He was their first-round draft pick in 2012 and should be a good stand-in whilst Michael Brantley continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.

As for Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young winner gave up 11 hits across his six innings of work, yet that was predominantly due to the way he was pounding the strike zone and that’s far from a negative in the pre-season period. He struck our four D-Backs around Jake Lamb‘s second-inning home run before things unravelled a bit in the sixth inning.

Yan Gomes showed off his excellent arm behind the plate by gunning down Socrates Brito twice and also pouncing on a swinging bunt by Castillo in the fourth inning to get the lead runner at second rather than taking the safe out at first. Gomes’s 2015 campaign was hampered by a knee injury, yet he appears healthy now and is one of many reasons why Cleveland shouldn’t be overlooked in the AL Central and Wild Card races this year.

Miller and Kluber’s outings left me breathing a sigh of relief, as did Lester’s strong start against the Brewers and Quintana’s seven K’s against the Mariners.

It wasn’t such a good day for the A’s, as Mike Trout smacked a first-inning homer and the Angels prevailed 11-3 whilst Oakland made four errors to go alongside the three they coughed up the day before.

Friday might not be the last time this season that I turn to my fantasy team players to offer some crumbs of comfort following a bad day at the office for my ‘real’ team.

The scorecard

Here’s a scan of my scorecard, completed up to the middle of the seventh inning when Shelby Miller came out of the game. The ‘fch’ reference at the start of Cleveland’s seventh inning stands for fielding changes. It’s standard practice in spring games for managers to make plenty of player changes in the later innings and – knowing that this was almost certainly going to be the last half-inning I was going to keep score of – I didn’t bother to make a note of them.

You can download and print off the scorecard I used here.

Other MLB notes

For all the grief that Arizona’s front office has received this off-season, their aggressive winter could pay-off especially if the Dodgers’ terrible luck with injuries continues. It was announced this week that Andre Ethier will be out for 10-14 weeks with a fractured tibia, whilst catcher Yasmani Grandal is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day due to an arm injury and Howie Kendrick battles with a leg injury.

The New York Yankees are another big spender who go into the final week of Spring Training with some significant question marks over their roster. Ivan Nova is in a battle with CC Sabathia for a spot in the rotation that appears to be coming down to which one doesn’t look quite as bad as the other. Nova didn’t do much to help his case on Friday by giving up three home runs against the Orioles. Sabathia is a far-from-ideal candidate to move to the bullpen so that may factor into the equation.

Things are very different for the other New York team. Earlier on Friday, Noah Syndergaard was in dominating form against the Cardinals, striking out nine over six innings.  Yankee fans will be sick of hearing about the stunning starting pitcher lineup of the Mets, yet in Syndergaard’s case that may be preferable to him competing against them with the Blue Jays. Toronto wanted to win in 2013 and so gave him up in the package to acquire the 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in 2012/13 off-season, but it’s hard not to think about the 1-2 punch they could have had with Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman.

Finally, ESPN covered the Mets-Cardinals game on Friday and there was plenty of talk about the Redbirds’ rivalry with the Chicago Cubs. You get the sense that St. Louis are charged up by everyone hailing the Cubs as the best team in MLB heading into this season. Every one of the 19 games they will play against each other during the regular season will be an event.

Infield shifts and keeping score

One of my tasks during March is to review the six volumes of my Baseball Basics for Brits series.

It doesn’t look like there are many factual changes that need to be made, but looking at the sixth volume about keeping score of baseball games did remind me of an article published on MLB.com just before Christmas about infield shifts.

Over the past five seasons, the use of infield shifts in MLB has moved from being a rarity applied to special cases to standard practice.  Managers have moved their fielders for particular occasions for years (bringing the infield in, shading the outfield a certain direction etc), but the infield shift is a bit more drastic than that.

Most games will produce at least one at-bat where the manger shifts his infielders around, leaving one side relatively open so that the bulk of the fielders are in an area that the stats show the particular batter is more likely to hit the ball to.

It’s a conundrum for people who keep score as in baseball every player is assigned a specific position and this is used to identify them when they make an assist, put-out or error.

The practice of moving fielders to account for the tendencies of the batter is a standard part of cricket where batsman have more control over where they hit the ball and, aside from the wicketkeeper, there aren’t fixed points (i.e. bases) that a fielder has to cover. Although there are many historic links between score-keeping in cricket and how it was applied to baseball, assigning numbers to fielders was one difference that baseball found its own answer to.

Thinking of someone as a third baseman, for example, always made sense as they fielded the ball around that corner of the diamond, but now a third baseman may make a play in the shortstop position, or possibly even where the second baseman would normally be (e.g. if the second baseman gets moved out to short-right-field and the third baseman covers that area to leave the shortstop covering the left-side of the infield, rather than the shortstop moving along to second base).

The obvious question from there is ‘so what?’. For official scorers, their primary interest is ensuring the right player gets credited (or debited) with their involvement, so it’s not a significant factor to them.

For those of us that keep score for fun, it can be more problematic because it’s something else for us to build into our idiosyncrasies.

None of us fans need to keep score of MLB games nowadays to keep track of what’s happening or to look back at a game, yet to say there’s no point in doing so is the same as saying there’s no point in doing anything. We could all buy tasty ready meals or get a takeaway to cover our main evening meal every day, but that doesn’t mean none of us bother cooking anymore. Whilst there’s a cost aspect to it (and a health one in most cases), it’s also just a case that people enjoy the process of cooking and like to produce meals in their own style and to their own taste.

It’s exactly the same with keeping score. When I score a game, I do so because I enjoy doing it and I like to produce my own individual account of the game.

This includes deciding what details are important or not and that’s where the infield shift conundrum comes in.

When someone hits a home run, I don’t just note down a ‘HR’ or fill in the box/circle, I make a note of the direction of the shot and embellish that for its length or significance depending on how the mood takes me on the day. I’m not a fastidious scorer who wants to note every little detail, it’s just that there are some elements that I like to make more of than others.

The more I think about this topic, the more I’m minded that if there’s an infield shift and the third baseman throws to first base whilst fielding at second, just noting a 5-3 put-out is missing something to me.

Try as I might, I haven’t managed to come up with a way of accounting for this type of scenario yet that doesn’t make things more complicated (e.g. my initial idea of using the player’s uniform number rather than classic fielding number gets fiddly pretty quickly). So I’m currently just adding a roman numeral next to the play and then making a note elsewhere on the scorecard (i.e. “i – SHIFT: 5 at 2B” or “ii – SHIFT: 4 in ShRF”).

An experienced scorer will tell you that the important thing isn’t the method itself, but being consistent with whatever method you choose. Sadly, I tend to fall down in that respect on my embellishments when scoring MLB games. I couldn’t say I’ll always note the infield shift and logic would tell me to either do it all the time or not at all, yet my score keeping is definitely a case of art over logic at times.

I’ll be giving some thought over the next month as to whether getting into any of this in a revision of my BBfB volume on keeping score is more confusing than it is helpful!

Scorecards in Action: Jon Lester’s debut for the A’s

keeping_score_200x225It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘scorecards in action’ post.

Jon Lester’s debut for the Oakland A’s on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals seemed like a good excuse to get a scorecard and some colour pens out and to score along with a game.

I used a standard ‘fan’ scoring system (as opposed to the IBAF version, for example), but added in a bit of colour. I used a red pen for outs, blue for hits, walks and normal base advancement, and green for errors.

[box]Click here to open a scanned pdf copy of my scorecard.[/box]

Looking back at the Kansas City side you can see quickly that it wasn’t a completely vintage Jon Lester display, with only one clean three-up, three-down inning in the sixth. However, the Royals’ hits were scattered and were generally only going for a single base. Even the double by Alex Gordon to lead off the fourth inning wasn’t all it may seem, as hinted at by the asterisk I put next to the ‘2B’ designation.

Gordon’s double was ‘sun assisted’, as third baseman Josh Donaldson lost a high pop-up in the Oakland sky and he could only cower for cover as the ball dropped harmlessly to the turf. After the next batter, Erik Kratz, grounded out to the second baseman Nick Punto, Gordon moved across to third base thanks to a Lorenzo Cain single that was originally ruled an error on Donaldson, as you can just about see from my hastily scribbled out annotation.

It was a sharp play for Donaldson to collect as the groundball fizzed up at him off the infield dirt, but he was behind the ball and for someone of his ability, it was probably a play he would have expected to make. I am stubborn and will hold firm on my own scoring call if I strongly disagree with the official scorer’s decision (adding an annotation to my scorecard just to make clear I’ve diverged from the official stance), yet in this case it was marginal enough for me to go with the flow.

Error or not, it almost proved costly for the A’s as Mike Moustakas lofted a flyball into centrefield for what looked like being a regulation sacrifice fly. Sam Fuld – recently reacquired from the Minnesota Twins – had other ideas and let fly with an acrobatic circus throw that gunned the tagging-up Gordon out at home plate to end the inning.

As an A’s fan, I was busy celebrating the great play so I didn’t jot down the out straight away and that was fortunate because as the A’s headed to their dugout, the Royals’ manager Ned Yost asked for the play to be reviewed. The new instant replay system is something that score-keeping fans now need to take into consideration, especially if using a pen rather than an easily-rubbed-out pencil mark. If a play looks debatable, now it’s always worth holding fire and making sure if there is going to be a challenge or not before committing anything to paper.

In this case, replays showed catcher Derek Norris had tagged Gordon out in time and the play could be scored as it was called initially called by the umpire. I added in a dotted red line just to more clearly link the Moustakas and Gordon outs.

Switching across to the A’s lineup side, the coloured pens come into their own by painting a very clear picture on a strange afternoon for the Royals.

Jason Vargas, returning from a stint on the Disabled List, overshadowed Lester early on by pitching four perfect innings to start the game. Then the wheels came off in quite spectacular fashion in an extended bottom of the fifth that had me scribbling out the pre-printed inning numbers for the sixth inning onwards.

The A’s batted around as they put up eight runs on eight hits. After Norris broke up the no-hitter with a lead-off double, the A’s didn’t necessarily hit Vargas hard but, in the words of the excitable A’s TV commentator Shooty Babitt, they just “kept the train moving” by racking up seven singles.

The last single came courtesy of Jonny Gomes – another player reacquired by the A’s on the trade deadline – and it was his second of the inning, but thanks to a Gordon error he ended up standing at third base.

This is another example of where the coloured pens help to capture a bit more detail quickly and neatly. The first leg of the diamond is entered in blue with a ‘1B’ alongside, then the line is continued in green – to show advancement on an error – before coming to a stop at third base.

Gomes collected two RBI as it was judged that Fuld and Lowrie would have come home on a single, whilst Donaldson’s final leg to home plate on the play was rightly put down to Gordon’s mishap in allowing the ball to skip under his glove in left field and to head to the wall. I probably should have noted Donaldson’s third-to-home line in green rather than blue, but I’ll put that slight slip down to excitement.

After Aaron Crow relieved Vargas and ended a long inning, Scott Downs and Bruce Chen came out of the Royals’ bullpen and kept the A’s quiet for the rest of the way, aside from a single in the eighth by Norris. The contrast in the long run of blue for the fifth inning and then the short bursts of red either side show how that one inning completely turned around the entire game.

In truth the A’s hitters were not their normal patient selves from the sixth inning onwards as they handed the game over to their pitching staff to complete the victory. The eight-spot put up in the fifth inning had given Lester a seven-run cushion and, although he may have been disappointed to concede two runs in the seventh, it paved the way for a winning debut in the green and gold for the ace for hire.

Weekly Hit Ground Ball: Segura the scourge of scorers

If you’ve ever kept score of a baseball game in Britain, you’ll probably consider scoring an MLB game as being a relatively easy task.

The professionals understandably have a greater grasp of the fundamentals of the game and plays generally unfold in a straightforward way, unlike on the fields of the U.K. where the ball can fly around a bit more at times.

Even when you do get a complex scoring play in MLB, anything you’re not quite sure of can be reassessed via numerous TV replays and, if all else fails, you can simply wait for clarification from the official scorer before updating your own scorecard.

It will all make complete sense to somebody and you can then take your lead from there.

However, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Jean Segura conspired to confound all observers last Friday with some bizarre base-running against the Chicago Cubs.

Segura was on second base, with Ryan Braun on first, when he tried to advance too quickly and got caught in a rundown between third and second. Braun got himself to second base while Segura was between bases – as all good baserunners should do – but then found himself sharing the bag with his teammate. Somehow it ended with Braun sitting back in the dugout having been called out and Segura standing on first base despite having stolen second base earlier in the inning. Segura brought the madness to a conclusion by attempting to steal second (again) on the very next pitch and being thrown out.

If it sounds confusing, that’s because it was. Take a look at the video.

Such a bizarre turn of events is perfect fodder for ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the master of writing about baseball oddities, and his article on the matter is essential reading. As a keen scorekeeper, my favourite part is when Stark gets the views of “longtime official scorer and SABR historian David Vincent” on how the computer-based scoring systems reacted to Segura ending up back on first base.

“”All the computer software — none of it will handle that,” Vincent said. “You don’t run the bases [from] second to first. Any software that processes play-by-play won’t accept that.”

So because it’s theoretically impossible, the official box score of this game listed Segura as having been thrown out stealing third — even though he slid into second. Huh?

“That’s because the play-by-play listed him as staying at second base [because it couldn’t compute that he was actually on first],” Vincent said. “So then he had to be caught stealing third. But that never happened. So that has to get changed.”

Right. But that’s not all. The official box score and play-by-play also said that Braun got caught stealing second.

“That’s not right either,” Vincent said. “He was just out trying to advance to second base on a play being made on somebody else. So I’m pretty sure that has to get changed too.”

Amazing the havoc one madcap baserunner can wreak on this sport, isn’t it? But that is why we love it”.

It certainly is, Jayson, it certainly is.

More scorekeeping

I consider myself fortunate that I wasn’t trying to keep score of that Cubs-Brewers game. I like to keep a neat scorecard and reducing an inning to one big smudge on the page would have been demoralizing.

I did keep score of a Cubs game one week earlier though. There were no difficult plays to note down, but it was a fun game to score.

[ilink url=”https://baseballgb.co.uk/wp-content/2013-04-12SfgChc.pdf” style=”download”]Completed scorecard of Giants v Cubs, 12 April 2013[/ilink]


The Cubs’ starter Carlos Villanueva pitched extremely well against the San Francisco Giants and, with the help of James Russell inducing a double-play groundball to end the eighth inning, allowed his team to take a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning.

It was at this point that the game took off. The Cubs had demoted Carlos Marmol from the closer role a couple of days earlier and turned the job over to Kyuji Fujikawa. The Japanese pitcher came into the game against the Giants and promptly gave up three runs, much to the frustration of the Wrigley Field faithful (in fairness to Fujikawa, he didn’t look at all comfortable on the mound and was subsequently put on the Disabled List with a strained right forearm).

Seeing a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit is the stuff of nightmares for fans, but from a neutral’s perspective it turned an otherwise straightforward victory into a dramatic conclusion.

Pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro tied the game with one swing of the bat to lead off the bottom of the ninth and Starlin Castro completed the comeback with a walk-off double that brought David DeJesus around to score the winning run. The crowd sang ‘Go Cubs Go’ as they filed out of the ballpark, which was quite a different sentiment to that being expressed about their team a few minutes earlier.

And then it comes to the stats

The two above mentioned games provide a useful reminder that the basic stats doesn’t always tell the whole story.

The fact that Ryan Braun was ‘credited’ with being caught stealing second base was unfair on the outfielder – who did everything right – but was explainable from a scoring perspective due to the uniqueness of the play in question.

However, when you see the pitching ‘W’ against Fujikawa’s name, it’s worth remembering just how useless that distinction came be at times.

Keeping score on a train

I was stuck on a train on early Sunday evening with my pocket DAB radio at least allowing me to drift off to Toronto. The Blue Jays were hosting the Yankees and thanks to BBC 5 Live Sports Extra I could listen in while on the move.

I had tried the same diversionary tactic the previous Sunday only to be plagued by a less-than helpful commentary team that constantly skipped over the important details of the game (number of outs, runners on base etc), which is not what you need when sitting in a noisy carriage.

Click the image for an enlarged view

This time I came prepared with an A6 notebook and a biro so that I could both keep a track of the game action and keep a hold on my sanity above the din and inconvenience of a group of parents and kids treating the train like their front room (in a house I’d gladly avoid).

My impromptu scoring method involved simply noting down the outcome of each plate appearance, underlining ones ending or turning into an out. This allowed me to be sure at any moment where we were in the game, how many outs there were and how many people were on base.

I didn’t keep a track of stolen bases, such as the pair stolen by Rajai Davis in the fourth inning, so I didn’t always know exactly where the runners were, but it was much better than nothing.

I also didn’t include player names, batting orders and the like as the commentators were always good at mentioning them (in fairness, the commentators in this game were much better than the previous Sunday and did keep a decent regular check on the game situation) and this wasn’t a scorecard I would be creating stats from.

It’s just a simple running log of what happened as the game went along to accompany the commentary, with runs shown by a circle around each plate appearance that came around to score and dots where a plate appearance resulted in that player gaining any RBI.

The game had reached the end of the fourth inning at the point when I turned off my radio before alighting at my destination. Phil Hughes had just been bludgeoned for six runs in the inning to give the Blue Jays a 7-0 lead and the game ended in a 10-7 victory for Toronto.

I didn’t catch those remaining innings and my ‘scorecard’ is therefore imperfect in many ways, but as a simple scoring method devised on the fly it worked perfectly well enough.

Scorecards in Action: White Sox-A’s 25 April 2012

Last Wednesday evening, many sports fans in the U.K. were excited about the prospect of watching a Champions League semi-final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

There was no doubting it was an important game, one made all the more interesting by Chelsea’s surprising win over Barcelona the night before in the first semi-final, but my attention was directed towards a ballgame in Oakland instead.

An early season encounter between the Oakland A’s and the Chicago White Sox wouldn’t even grab the attention of many baseball fans, never mind general sports fans, but it was a notable event for me as Jarrod Parker was scheduled to make his A’s debut.

Parker made his Major League debut for Arizona at the end of last season (27 September) and he pitched well over 5.2 innings against the Dodgers. Arizona’s TV commentators were gushing during the game about Parker’s bright future in a D-Backs uniform, but that turned out to be his only appearance for them as he became the headline-grabbing part of the package that Oakland received from Arizona for Trevor Cahill over the offseason.

The White Sox had an exciting young pitcher of their own on the mound in Chris Sale, so it seemed like another good opportunity to get out a blank scorecard and my coloured pens to keep score of the action.

[ilink url=”https://baseballgb.co.uk/wp-content/2012-04-25CwsOak.pdf” style=”download”]25 April 2012 – White Sox vs A’s Completed Scorecard[/ilink]

Parker had a very respectable debut, as shown by the White Sox’s side to the scorecard. He found some ‘blue’ danger in the second inning; however he was able to escape without any damage done to the scoreboard and despite allowing the odd base-runner, he kept Chicago at bay until the top of the seventh inning.

That proved to be a tricky passage of play for me, as hinted at by the scribbled-out marking where the inning begins.  I had quickly checked on the Bayern-Real game and found that it was heading towards a penalty shoot-out, so I had one eye on the muted footy game while listening out for any developments in the baseball.

Commentator Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson was talking about the A’s pitcher Ryan Cook so I assumed he had been brought into the game for the seventh inning, leading me to make a mark to show the pitching change and to fill out Parker’s pitching totals. It was only then that I looked up at my monitor and realised Parker was still in the game.

Things got even more confusing as the inning progressed. While I was listening to and noting down Kosuke Fukudome being caught in a run-down between third and home, Kaka was busy missing a penalty for Real. Thankfully it wasn’t long before Bayern buried their final spot-kick to book their place in a home final and I could get back to giving the baseball my full attention.

After the first pitch of the top of the ninth, I would have been glad of any distraction. Aussie Grant Balfour had come into the game to try and close out a 2-1 lead and promptly gave up a game-tying homer to Paul Konerko on his very first pitch. That was Konerko’s 400th career longball and that milestone, along with the game situation, left Harrelson bellowing out his trademark “you can put it on the board … yes!” home run call with even more gusto than usual.

So much for a quick and relatively easy A’s victory.

Soon I was reaching towards my folder and grabbing another blank scorecard as the game hurtled through my two additional inning columns and on to an extra sheet.

The A’s flirted with danger in each inning and kept dodging bullets until the top of the fourteenth when Alexei Ramirez doubled home two runs to give the White Sox a 4-2 lead.  The A’s third baseman Eric Sogard inadvertently started the White Sox’s rally with an error to lead off the inning and as he trudged back to the A’s dugout having struck-out to start the bottom of the frame, it looked like my efforts in sticking with the game would go unrewarded.

But then, all of a sudden, the A’s sprang into life against Hector Santiago.

Josh Reddick reached base with a single and up stepped Yoenis Cespedes, who promptly smacked a two-run bomb to tie the game at 4-4. In a scene most baseball fans in Britain will relate to, it was only near the end of my celebrations – consisting mainly of me jumping up and down repeating Harrelson’s “you can put it on the board ….. yes!” line whilst narrowly avoiding smashing my head against a light shade – that I remembered it was coming up to half-past midnight and that, perhaps, my neighbours might not greatly appreciate the commotion.

I quietly got back to the task of filling in the details on my scorecard and watched with joy as Santiago fell to pieces and Kila Ka’aihue blooped home the game-winning run.

I left the totting up of totals, made that little bit trickier by them being spread out over two scorecards, for the next day and turned off the light thinking that while it may have cost me a good hour and a half of sleep, all in all I didn’t mind that Balfour had blown his lines in the ninth.

If you’re going to spend four hours keeping score of fourteen innings of baseball over two scorecards, you might as well do it in a walk-off win for your chosen team.

Scorecards in Action: Yankees-Red Sox 20 April 2012

Friday 20 April 2012 marked the 100 year anniversary of the first game at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox naturally turned it into a big event, with plenty of former Boston greats on hand joining in the celebrations, and with the Yankees being in town for the first series between the two this season, it felt like a good time to get another blank scorecard out and to keep score of the game.

While I used a standard style scorecard and ‘fan’ scoring method, I opted for a different approach to normal by adding a dash of colour to create a brighter scorecard and one that would highlight the key moments in a more immediately way than normal.

Some scorers have a complicated system with an array of different coloured pens that produce a vivid multicolour scorecard. I kept things relatively simple by sticking to three standard Bic edition biros.

I used red to record outs, blue to record hits, walks and ‘normal’ advancement on the bases, and green to record errors, passed balls and wild pitches.

The one debate I had concerned what colour to use for walks. You can make an argument either way for a walk to be credited to a patient hitter or debited against an off-target pitcher. The fact that plate appearances ending in a walk don’t count as an at-bat made me consider leaning towards jotting them down in green, but in the end I opted to give the batter credit and to note them in blue, the same as a hit.  With that decision taken, I could get on with scoring the game.

[ilink url=”https://baseballgb.co.uk/wp-content/2012-04-20NyyBos.pdf” style=”download”]20 April 2012 – Yankees vs Red Sox Completed Scorecard[/ilink]


The completed scorecard, to my eye at least, really has the intended effect of making the key moments stand out whilst also showing trends through patches of red or blue, both vertically over the course of an inning and horizontally when looking at a batter’s day at the plate.  Add to that the brighter look that it gives to the completed scorecard and it makes me seriously consider using this more colourful method as my standard approach when keeping score of MLB games.

I noted in my last ‘keeping score’ article that the discipline involved in scoring a British baseball game in person is different to that of scoring an MLB game followed on TV or radio. That difference would probably make me want to get a decent amount of practice in before using this new colourful method for a British game.

If you’re using colours, typically that will mean using pens and their more permanent nature takes away the blessed safety-net that the pencil and eraser approach provides.

I made two notable mistakes along the way in this game.

The first came in the top of the second inning when Curtis Granderson hit a single that allowed Derek Jeter to go from first to third.  I quickly noted down Granderson’s single, but then made the mistake of breaking my flow by reaching down into my bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (I’m sure you’ll appreciate that they are hard to resist!).  I drew my line from first to third base and then realised that I had wrongly put that on Granderson’s diamond rather than Jeter’s. Granderson was then put-out following a groundball hit to the shortstop by Alex Rodriguez and adding the red out alongside scribbling over the blue makes Granderson’s diamond look a little messy.

It was a similar scenario in the bottom of the sixth inning, although this time there were no Mini Eggs involved (I had scoffed the lot by that point). Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch with David Ortiz standing on first base.  I noted down the HBP in green and then swapped to the blue pen, which was enough to break my concentration and make me wrongly put Ortiz’s first-to-second advancement on to Youkilis’ diamond.  Again, Youkilis was subsequently put-out, this time on a double-play, leading to another slightly messy notation.

Still, two mistakes isn’t too bad and keeping concentration when updating more than one batter’s entry is a useful – if, admittedly, somewhat basic – lesson to learn from.

The game itself was a relatively straight forward 6-2 victory for the Yankees, unlike the violent pendulum swing that occurred in the game the next day.

The blue – and green in the case of the opening plate appearance – at the top of six of the seven innings that Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz started tells you a lot, as does the fact that three of those lead-off moments were home runs.  When you look at the Yankees’ fourth, fifth and sixth innings, it immediately jumps out that there’s plenty of red there, but the three ‘blue’ moments were all home runs.  Giving up solo homers isn’t the end of the world for a pitcher, but when you do it five times in a game while your offence is being kept fairly quiet, you’re going to be in trouble.

After the pre-game ceremony, it wasn’t a fun day for Buchholz and the Red Sox; however I thoroughly enjoyed the game, especially due to using this new colourful scoring method.

Scorecards in action: Rays-Tigers 10 April 2012

We were treated to an excellent game involving two talented pitchers on Tuesday, as Matt Moore and Rick Porcello took the mound in an early evening start UK time.

The potential for an enthralling pitching duel had me reaching for a blank scorecard for the first time in the 2012 regular season. I took the opportunity to use a new scorecard I have created and the completed result can be downloaded below.

[ilink url=”https://baseballgb.co.uk/wp-content/20120410RaysTigers.pdf” style=”download”]10 April 2012 – Rays vs Tigers Completed Scorecard[/ilink]


What doesn’t show up on the scanned version is the crease in the middle of the A4 page. The scorecard was in part designed specifically with my Tesco cheapo A5-sized clipboard in mind. Folding the A4 page in half makes for a compact A5 sheet that I then simply flip over every half-inning. All of the usual stat boxes for every player, and for the game itself, are printed on the other side of the piece of paper (not scanned here) so that I can maximize the space for the in-game details on one side, with the post-game stat work being done on the other.

The idea of the scorecard is to track in two separate spaces the plate appearance outcome (top half of the square) and how each batter’s time on the bases ended (bottom half). Additional info can be added, such as any RBIs and stolen bases if desired, but otherwise it is as simple as that.

It’s basically a way to record the key points without tracking every detail as to how a batter made their way around the bases.

It’s an approach to take into account my occasional laziness when it comes to keeping score of MLB games. Scoring at this level still helps me to appreciate the action more and gives me the details I like to look over once a game is complete, either for my own interest or to inform a piece of writing.

It does not provide a complete record of the game and I suspect that not tracking runners all the way could make it more likely for me to miss something at first glance, but with MLB games that doesn’t really bother me. If I miss one of two runners getting home immediately when it happens, the replays and score at the top of the screen will set me right.  Additionally, while even with this scorecard you can normally still go over it and work out what happened and when, if I do want to check a minor point that I haven’t specifically recorded then it will only be a few clicks away on MLB.com Gameday.

So it’s not something you would want to use to keep score of a British baseball game, where you get one look at the play and everyone’s relying on you to know if one run scored or if it was two, but it works in the MLB context.

The game itself

One of the benefits of keeping score is that it allows you to pick up on trends during the game and afterwards. In this case, my attention was grabbed by the pattern at the bottom of the Tigers’ batting lineup, and at the very top.

As noted previously here, Austin Jackson has been tagged as an important part of the Tigers’ offence this season, playing a vital role in getting on base in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Jackson is often referred to as the lead-off hitter, I used it myself in that aforementioned story, but in reality that label doesn’t mean much as batting first in the lineup only guarantees you’ll lead off the first inning.

In the case of this game, Jackson didn’t lead off another inning after the first, whereas the eight-spot hitter Gerald Laird led off on three occasions (third, fifth and seventh innings).

The scorecard neatly shows that Laird and the number nine hitter Worth both made outs to start those innings against Matt Moore, bringing Austin Jackson up to the plate with two outs.  He kept the inning alive on the first two occasions by working a walk and the third occasion his presence made Moore change his plan of attack.

I was watching the game on ESPN America and they were showing the Fox Sports Detroit presentation, with Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on commentary. The Tigers play more day-games during the working week than most teams (only the Cubs and Rays played more in 2011). Consequently, like many UK-based baseball fans, I listen to Impemba and Allen’s commentary fairly regularly and they are one of my favourite broadcasting duos, mixing knowledge and analysis with a welcome dash of humour and fun.

The pair were really on the spot in this contest.

When Jackson came up to the plate in the seventh inning, Allen was noting how the veteran Jose Molina had been guiding Moore through the game and that the pitcher hadn’t shook off a sign from his catcher throughout. As the words were coming out of Allen’s mouth, Moore was staring in at Molina and shaking off the sign so that he could get back to his fastball.  As I was saying to myself ‘Moore just shook him off’, Jackson was driving the pitch into the seats for a home run and Allen picked up on it straight away.

There followed a scary moment at the top of the eighth inning when Miguel Cabrera shook his left hand after taking a swing and continued to grimace a couple of swings later. As Impemba and Allen were expressing their concern, Cabrera struck the ball into right-centre field, narrowly failing to clear the fence and ending up with a double instead.  Allen declared that Cabrera’s ability to wait for his pitch and then to drive it with authority the other way was why he’s the best hitter in baseball. It’s hard to disagree with that.

Watching Cabrera hit is always a treat because he’s a master at his craft. Matt Moore lived up to the hype with a strong season debut and Rick Porcello’s performance bodes well for a very good season from him as well (the movement he gets on his 88-92 MPH two-seamer is ridiculous).

Add watching those talents with the pleasure of filling in a scorecard and it made for a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a Tuesday evening.

Celebrating SABR Day 2011: Special feature by Project Cobb on scoring in Britain in the 1890s

sabr_cobbToday is the second annual SABR Day, which is an occasion for celebrating the work of the fantastic Society for American Baseball Research. Project Cobb (the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball) had been counting down to this day for the past 10 weeks with a series of Cobbettes on BaseballGB that travelled backwards through the decades of the 20th Century. Today we have reached the 1890s, which was the first decade of structured domestic baseball on British soil.

The feature published today acknowledges the fundamental link that exists between keeping score and baseball’s historical record. Without the attention given to the former in baseball’s early days the latter would be very sparse indeed. In addition, it is worth noting that Project Cobb grew out of the Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association. History and scoring really do go hand in hand.

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Keeping score: Diamondbacks-Cubs 30 April 2010

keeping_score_128x128One thing that I failed to mention in my recent story about the Cubs-Diamondbacks game is that I was keeping score during the contest.

Last Friday’s game was the first time in the 2010 season where I sat with pencil and paper in hand and noted everything down.  I always enjoy keeping score as it adds something extra to the experience and makes you appreciate the nuances of the game that little bit more. 

However, I’m one of those sticklers who believes if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.  I only start to keep score of a game if I’m confident that I’ll be able to watch the whole contest and that it’s the main thing I’ll be paying attention to.  Up to this point, I’ve often been catching bits of games or watching/listening to them while doing other things as well. 

With no other plans and an overwhelming desire to just sit down and relax, Friday evening seemed the perfect time to assemble some snacks, dig out a scorecard and while away a few hours enjoying a ballgame.  A scan of my completed scorecard can be found here.  Continue reading