After introducing the BaseballGB ‘IBAF Scoring Method scorecard’ last week, we now turn to the first example of the scorecard in action.
During these long autumn/winter months, I’ve been getting my baseball fix thanks to the archive content available on MLB.com. Watching some of the most notable games from the 2009 season via MLB.TV has helped to fill the live baseball void, while also providing a great excuse to trial the new scorecard.
It will surprise no one to find that one of the first games I went back to score was one of the few highlights of the Oakland’s A’s largely miserable season. On 6 July 2009, Brett Anderson (no, not the ex-Suede singer) walked into Fenway Park as a boy and strolled out as a man. The rookie left-hander pitched a complete game shutout, the first of his career, giving up just two hits while walking two batters and striking out nine as the A’s beat the Red Sox 6-0.
A scan of my completed scorecard can be accessed as a pdf here.
Delving into the scorecard
The A’s batting side of the scorecard is on page one, but naturally my attention is caught by the second page on which Anderson’s masterful display is recorded. The Red Sox really didn’t get much going against him all night. Jason Bay got into scoring position in the second inning, but Rocco Baldelli grounded into a double play to end the inning and gave me a chance to draw the IBAF ‘double play’ notations on my scorecard (noting the two put-outs separately and then linking them with a line, while using the GDP abbreviation to show that Baldelli grounded into the DP). Anderson took control from there, striking out five in a row at one point and navigating his way around having a base runner on third twice, bringing the game to a close by retiring the last eight batters in order.
Brett Anderson wasn’t the only person who had a memorable game. Switching back to page one and looking at Nomar Garciaparra’s opening at-bat in the second inning (grounding out to third) might not provoke much excitement, but what isn’t noted down on the scorecard is the spine-tingling standing ovation he received prior to digging in at the batter’s box. This was Nomar’s first appearance back at Fenway since he was shockingly traded by the Red Sox mid-way through the 2004 season. The cheers lasted for several minutes as everyone, not least Garciaparra himself, got caught up in the emotion. You’ll notice that Kurt Suzuki thoughtfully ended the top of the first inning by grounding the ball to Kevin Youkilis* so that Nomar could lead off the second inning.
*(Youkilis recorded an unassisted put-out on Matt Holliday on the play to get the third out of the inning. The ‘O5’ in Suzuki’s box stands for ‘occupied ball’, with the ball being occupied by the third baseman, or position number 5)
Not a Smoltz start to savour
It was also an important day for veteran pitcher John Smoltz. He was making his first start at Fenway in a Red Sox uniform, although it didn’t go according to plan for the former Brave. After a a shaky first inning (two singles and a walk) he settled down over the second and third frames, but his start quickly unravelled in the fourth. The A’s sent eight batters to the plate and amassed four runs on five hits. Jason Giambi’s lead-off double to centre field set the tone for the inning and back-to-back singles by Kurt Suzuki and Nomar Garciaparra brought the first baseman home. Suzuki and Ryan Sweeney were driven home on a double to left-centre by Mark Ellis and he was subsequently plated by a single to right by Adam Kennedy.
Kennedy drove in another run in the top of the sixth inning to make the score 5-0. This is a useful inning to look at because it shows one of the strengths of the IBAF scorecard and scoring method: the ability to clearly note any player substitutions. Jack Cust started the inning with a double and, after spluttering to a halt at second base, was immediately replaced by a pinch runner: Scott Hairston. I recorded this change by drawing a thick line on the second base section and then noting down Hairston in the batting lineup in the row for batting position number 7. You’ll see that Cust was playing in right field (position 9), but Hairston took over in centre (position 8, with a superscript 1 to show he was the first replacement at this position). Ryan Sweeney moved from centre to right to accommodate Hairston and this is recorded by adding another line for Sweeney (in the 8 spot on the batting line) and noting ‘9’ with the superscript 1, before filling in the Innings played total at centre.
Of course, the fielding changes only really took effect when Oakland got back out on the field in the bottom of the inning. If you click over to the second page, you’ll see that the fielding changes have been noted down at the top of the column for the sixth inning. A dark black line has also been added across the top of the first plate appearance square in that inning (Ellsbury) to show that the changes took place then. Had a fielding switch been made after Ellsbury’s lead off at-bat, a dark line would have been drawn at the top of Lugo’s plate appearance square etc. It might look a little complicated at first, but it’s really not when you get the hang of it and it’s a much easier way to clearly record fielding changes than any other method I’ve seen (and/or used) before.
There’s one final thing to point out with the fielding changes, one that has probably already caused some ‘tut-tutting’ from experienced scorers inspecting my completed scorecard. When a new fielder comes into the game, you should always note his exact position number (i.e. with the relevant superscript number) when he makes any plays. I haven’t done that in this case, purely and simply because I’m fairly new to this scoring method and I forgot to do it! For instance, in the bottom of the seventh inning (the Red Sox’s batting side), Ryan Sweeney made two catches in right which are just noted as ‘F9’ when they should have been noted as ‘F9’ with a superscript 1.
The other two plays in that inning are also worth a mention. After David Ortiz flied out to lead off the inning, Jason Bay made it all the way to third base on an error by Hairston. The notation for this is ‘E8F’ and it includes a bit more information than a ‘fan’s standard’ ‘e8’ would have done. A capital ‘E’ is used to denote that the error was a decisive error (one that would have led to an out had the error not been committed) rather than an extra base error (‘e’ – one that just allows a runner to take an extra base). The capital ‘F’ at the end shows that the error was made while attempting to catch a fly ball. I was tempted to add a ‘DB’ in there as well to show that Hairston had made a complete “dog’s breakfast” out of trying to catch a relatively simple fly ball, but decided against it in the end.
After Bay reached third, Jason Varitek came to the plate and could only manage to pop the ball up. Bobby Crosby, who had replaced Giambi at first base, caught the ball to make the out in foul territory and I’ve recorded this as ‘FP3’. That wouldn’t provoke any controversy among ‘fan’ scorers: it’s a foul (F) pop-up (P) caught by the first baseman (3 – and, yes, there should be a superscript 1 on the scorecard there). However, pop-ups do not exist in the IBAF scoring method: it’s either a fly-out (F) or a line-out (L). So technically it should be recorded as ‘FF3’. I’ve always differentiated between fly-outs and pop-outs, so I’m reserving the right to stick with a ‘P’ in those situations.
The last thing I want to highlight is my use of the ‘Notes’ section for the batters. The idea of these spaces is to allow you to record any notes you wish, rather than filling in lots of ‘stats’ boxes that may not be overly important to you. I have used the spaces to total up some additional incidents relating to each batter (e.g. strikeouts, stolen bases, home runs) and also to make some general notes. For example, I’ve recorded that the third baseman (Kennedy) who fielded David Ortiz’s grounder to end the game was actually playing near second base in a defensive shift, rather than in the usual third base position (therefore noting that Ortiz hit the ball to the right side of the infield, not the left).
I’ve already noted my ‘superscript’ error, but it’s possible there are others on the scorecard when judged against the full IBAF criteria. I’m far from an expert at the IBAF system so if you spot a mistake, or want to pick up on anything else of interest on the scorecard, please pass on a comment or two below.