Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Part Two of How to Read a Baseball Score Card - and how to Score a Baseball Game


How to Read a Baseball Score Card - how to Score a Baseball Game - Part One

Introduction to Part Two

How to Read a Baseball Score Card - how to Score a Baseball Game - Part Two

Introduction to Part Two

By way of an introduction to scorekeeping in part one, I wrote about the history of the craft. I wrote about how the scorecard had over time become the essential scoring mechanism in baseball, how it is used by teams, leagues, media and fans. It is the only practical way to record a game at the field, it's existence the result of millions of person-hours full of love and discipline over 150 years. I noted how the newspaper box score, and for that matter, all baseball statistics you read anywhere, are derived from the simple scorekeeper's card.

In an ironical counter-point, (and to trumpet my new, and I think important, HTML scoring technique), I noted how in the the Web Age the mainstay of baseball culture, including Major League Baseball, have ignored the history of the craft of scorekeeping and reverted to sentences and paragraphs at their web places to try and record games. ESPN for example devotes an incredible 18 feet of computer screen on FIVE different pages to record one game!

Somehow pencil and paper scoring, where a scorekeeper can record everything that happens in a game on two 11" X 17" notebook pages, has been left out in the transition to digital.

Apple is leading the way with specialized hardware and software that allows one to score at the game in a hand-held, and even print out graphic table-type score cards after the game. But where's the art, the craft, in pushing the appropriate icon button? The beauty of a 11" X 17" score card is that you can see by the amount of ink on it when, what happened - it gives you a sense of the passage of time, a sense of epochs passing in the midst of a timeless game. With all the data deep inside an iPad score keeper all the magic is lost. The simple html score card can be coded to slide around inside a smart phone, or used on a Kindle, or simply on a lap top - and with a quick zoom-out you can see the whole inning - or the whole game.

This loss of the graphical interface, which is the fundamental nature of the score card, isn't the geeky, generally non sports minded web developers fault only; the understanding of the fundamentals of the game of baseball has been waning in the popular culture since 1948, the year "..the Boston Braves [...] decided to sell the television rights to all of their home games for the next two years." (Wikipedia)

Twenty five years later, marked by the introduction Designated Hitter, the media of Television, (which due to it's two dimensional nature is incapable of capturing baseball), had usurped the culture baseball had created - the game would now be less, because the camera could not be more.

Since 1973 AL games have become boring mechanical assembly line affairs, each piece rumbling out at the appropriate moment along the time line, each beautiful, grotesque specialization then doing what they were designed to do, when they were designed to do it ... to the point where the American League fan's only respite from the boredom is to become the game themselves - to cheer like insane monkey at balls hit out of stadia by colossus who's only function is to rise from the bench every eight outs and hit such things - in order that the fan can then become a centre of their own vain calamity.

I maintain that the DH rule is but a bi-product of the dumbing down of the culture of baseball caused by TV's inability to translate the game to fans at home. There are SO many things going on around every pitch, and in such subtle ways, and on such a large field of play that the directors quickly gave up trying to weave a tapestry (if they ever saw it), and focused the camera on the simple, stupid duality - the war between pitcher and hitter, Mano y Mano.

It's like the Coles Notes version of a great novel, or every bad Hollywood adaptation that replaces compexity with a love a story: it results in pseudo-intellectualism, a shallow understanding, and a knee jerk in the seat next to you.

A return to the love and joy of of the game through keeping score I hope will re intellectualize the game on all levels. Those who play the game don't need any help here, they know though doing. The people who need to restart their brains are the 90% of us who don't eat right because we don't play - our metabolism is eager for easy answers, or panacea, preferably sweet ones. We all know there are different flavours of sweet, scoring baseball and thus understanding the complexities of each game is one of them.

I hope this guide and the HTML score card results in a generation of scorekeepers and constructive critics of the game, such that maybe by 2073 we'll have rid ourselves of the DH rule, and TV will look more like an scorecard on a lap top. :)

How to Read a Baseball Score Card - how to Score a Baseball Game - Part Two

The Example Game - August 7th 2010, D-Rays at Blue Jays - bottom half of the innings:

Here in Part Two I will continue from where we left off with our August 7th 2010, D-Rays at Blue Jays example game. We were working our way through the first inning of the game, Travis Snider had walked and scored on a Yunel Escobar double to left centre field. Now with a run in and Yunel Escobar on second, baseball's 2010 home run champion is up to bat - with no one out in the inning.

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