The Joy of Keeping Score

First of all, go find a copy of Paul Dickson’s “The Joy of Keeping Score” and read it. It’s a fun book, even if you never keep score at a game. However, you really should keep score. Here’s my journey.

I got a new phone recently and when I was cleaning all the files off my old phone, I found my scoresheets (well, spreadsheets) from a number of last year’s AirHogs games. I realized it’s time to start practicing on my scoring, because baseball season is upon us.

While some people complain that baseball is too slow (this is a bad thing?), I’ve found the best way to keep my head in the game is to keep score. (It also lessens the cross-talk from the Spousal Unit.) However, since I didn’t grow up in the 1950s, this was not as simple to learn  as one would think – as in, my Dad did not just teach me as a part of growing up while we were going to baseball games. Luckily, unlike the 1950s, we have the Internet to find information on anything. For example, here is the official MLB page for keeping score. There is a very useful site with sample scorecards. David Cortesi has a good writeup on Project Scoresheet (RIP.) Google will lead you to hundreds of other examples. If you can find a sporting goods store, they will have scorecards.

Being a geek, I found any number of computer programs to keep score, but really didn’t think taking a laptop to games was a very good idea. Plus, I didn’t relish the thought of tossing an extension cord into the dugout and asking one of the players to plug me in when the battery ran low.

While being a secretive baseball geek, I really didn’t relish the thought of having scoresheets all over the top of the dugout, while trying to keep score the old fashioned way – on paper.

So, I was left with the only computer with batteries that would (probably) last an entire game – my phone. There was some software for WindowsMobile but I didn’t really like any of it.

Then, an epiphany. What is a scoresheet? It’s rows and columns. What is on a computer with rows and columns? A spreadsheet.

The reality is that you can keep score pretty much any way you want – you just need to find a system and stick with it. After all the research I did, and all the systems I tried to learn, one day at QTP, I decided to just do it. So, I opened up a spreadsheet on my phone and started keeping score.

It’s actually pretty easy. Here’s the first inning of the AirHogs vs the Diablos, August 17, 2010.  (The AirHogs lost the game.)

Diablos
1
23/CF Vincent (Schmidt)Ks
20/2B Santana 1B
8/SS Ponce (CS 20)Ks
30/DH Nichols
10/1B Smith
33/3B Reininger
29/2B Hulett
24/LF Reynoso
14/C Deleo
AirHogs
1
4/CF Perry (Ellis)BB
2/2B Gray (SB 4 2B E2 4 3B) 1B (4 RBI)
7/SS Espinosa (SB 2 2B E2 2 3B) BB
44/3B/C Porter pf5
28/1B/3B Banks BB
16/DH Hollimon 1B (2 RBI 7 RBI 28 2B)
27/LF/1B Stokes (CS 16)
13/RF Garza
8/C Jordan
17/LF Incaviglia

Daniel Schmidt on the mound for the AirHogs. He struck out the first batter (swinging.) He then gave up a single to Santana, who was caught stealing. He struck out Ponce to end the inning. (Good job, Daniel!)

AirHogs are up against Ellis. Robert Perry walked. Antoin Gray batted second. Perry stole second, and went to third on an error from the catcher. Gray singled to bring him home. 1-0 AirHogs. David Espinosa batted third. Gray stole second and advanced to third on another error. Espinosa walked. Greg Porter popped out foul to the third baseman. Ernie Banks walked. Mike Hollimon singled in two runs and moved Banks to second. 3-0 AirHogs. He then got caught stealing to end the inning.

That’s my system. It’s not as elegant as some, it’s probably too wordy (symboly?), but it works for me – as in, I haven’t looked at that spreadsheet since the night of the game, but I can reconstruct it now.

The reason I need to get warmed up is because I need to go back through the scoresheets from last year and see if my abbreviations were consistent. I have a feeling they varied from time to time.

Still, it’s nice to be able to put a game back together again after seven months.

The other major advantage of having a scorecard is that you can decide arguments after the game. “How many people did Daniel strike out last night?” Look at the spreadsheet. Count the “K”s. “Four.” Done.

So, if you’re at the ballpark this summer, keep score. It’s a great way to stay connected to the action, and it gives you a permanent record of the game.

Also, remember one critical symbol that’s not in any scorecard – “WW”. As Paul Dickson mentions in “The Joy of Keeping Score”, “WW” was Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto’s notation for “Wasn’t Watching.”  You have to go get beer sometime.

Diablos
1
23/CF Vincent (Schmidt)Ks
20/2B Santana 1B
8/SS Ponce (CS 20)Ks
30/DH Nichols
10/1B Smith
33/3B Reininger
29/2B Hulett
24/LF Reynoso
14/C Deleo
AirHogs
1
4/CF Perry (Ellis)BB
2/2B Gray (SB 4 2B E2 4 3B) 1B (4 RBI)
7/SS Espinosa (SB 2 2B E2 2 3B) BB
44/3B/C Porter pf5
28/1B/3B Banks BB
16/DH Hollimon 1B (2 RBI 7 RBI 28 2B)
27/LF/1B Stokes (CS 16)
13/RF Garza
8/C Jordan
17/LF Incaviglia