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.
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.