Originally Posted by Renato
So if you and another scorer of equal skill watched and scored the same game on DVD, how close would the resultant two individual score cards be to each other - 90%, 95% or 99%?
How different would the answer be if you were both watching the same game live at an arena?
Hey hey hey, Renato,
Good question. I have two answers. The first of them is that with regards to which fielders touched the ball and to which bases were achieved two scorers my level would have duplicate score cards. However, on some small inadvertant mistakes we might differ. Through oversight I might note that a pitch was swung at by the batter, and missed, when in fact the batter might have let it pass without taking a swing. If the pitch was a strike, I might slip and make a note representing one when it was actually the other. A minor mistake, and no big deal. Probably once in a ball game I'll forget to note that the batter hit a foul ball or something too. I've noticed that on occasion TV sportscasters have different pitch totals from mine, for example. I keep track of how many total pitches a pitcher throws, broken down by inning and batter even, and also the number of those pitches that were strikes. Sometimes my count is off the sportscaster's by two or so, give or take. It's frustrating when this happens. My count might be right and the sportscaster's might be wrong though. Whatever.
So regarding the facts of the game, so to speak, our scorecards will be almost exact duplicates.
However, baseball depends often on judgment calls. And whether the official scorekeeper of the game and I call grey area calls the same is another issue. Paul mentions the notation made if a batter makes a sacrifice fly in order to advance a runner, say. On one level that call is a judgment call because sometimes you can see that the batter is trying as hard as he can to get a hit, or even a home run, so that both the runner can advance and he can be on base. If that batter tries to hit the long ball and get a home run but instead just hits a fly ball which is caught (putting the batter out) but advancing the runner, that batter should not be credited with a sacrifice even though it would be a perfect moment to try a sacrifice. For my lack of experience I might mistake the attempted hit for the sacrifice or the reverse. A similar judgment call problem comes with deciding if an error should be called on a fielder. Say a batter hits the ball far, and a fielder delays somehow with fielding it and throwing it to the infield, and as a result the batter makes it to second base. One scorer might record the hit as a double, since the runner made two bases, thus overlooking the delay fielding the ball by the fielder. The rules say that in questionable cases the batter should be credited with a hit, and the batter very much wants a hit credited instead of an error, because it makes the batter's statistics for proficiency at batting look better if he makes a hit rather than if he gets on base because a fielder messed up. But still, the delay by the fielder might have caused the batter's ability to make a double from a hit that would normally only get him to first base. So another scorer might credit the batter with a single, a hit that gets him to first base, that is, NOT the valuable double, although the batter made it to second base. That scorer would record the hit as a single/error(to the fielder). "SE8/L+(89d)8ET-6/B-2", according to one notation method says: Single (S), with error (E) by center fielder (8, I just picked the center fielder for this example) on a hard (+) line drive (L) to deep center right field (89d). Error credited to center fielder (8E) on the throw (T, I just decided to make it a throwing error for this example) to the shortstop (6). Batter advanced to second base (B-2). This line of notation also tells its reader something by what it does not say--since it starts with a letter (S), it says the batter made it to base; if it started with a number, it would have indicated an out. Further, another line could be written before it regarding runners already on base, and along the the B-2, another concluding code would have indicated what happened to runners already on base (2-H, say, would mean a runner at second made it home on the play. If that happened there would be a further judgment call as to whether the runner scored because of the error, in which case the batter is not credited with a run batted in (RBI), a bummer for the batter, and the pitcher is not marked with a run earned against him, a relief for him. If however the scorekeeper decides the runner would have scored before the error, or the error had no effect on the runner scoring, then the batter feels better and the pitcher feels worse.)
There are a few great stories of players becoming furious when the scorekeeper makes judgments that will negatively affect their statistics. My favorite is batters turning toward the press box, where the official scorekeeper sits, and pointing to his eyes. Watch, dammit!
There's a further complication in judging what is an error as well: statistics prove that it is the better, the most capable, and the fastest fielders who make the most errors. The prime argument is that the guys who are the fastest and best try to field the distant balls that lesser fielders would just get there late too. If a fielder touches the ball with his glove but does not retain it, it can be declared an error right there. But if the fielder touched a very difficult to get ball with his glove because he's so fast he can almost get there where another fielder wouldn't be fast enough to get a glove on it, there there should be no penalty to the fielder for trying and almost making it, which is what an error call would be. So the scorekeeper judges these and other similar weird events and the notation he/she writes down reflect that. For this reason my scorecard will differ from another scorers. I bet this means two scorers my level would have scorecards 95% identical to each other. It would likely be on these action packed plays too.
I should note that each Major League Baseball game has an official scorekeeper who's scorecard becomes the record for all the player's statistics of that game, and that the official scorekeeper can and often does change calls within 24 hours of the end of the game. My scorekeeping tries to duplicate this official scorekeeper's work. Also, I've read that the rules stipulate that the official scorekeeper has to keep his/her scorecard in ink as he/she is observing the game and notating it. I use a pencil I'm happy to say, because I goof up often. The official scorekeeper can of course change rulings within the 24 hours, but still, a pen must be used on the contemporaneous scorecard. Pretty funny.
More than you wanted to know, right?
I'm charged about all this because it makes the game watching great. Easy for me to talk about. And write about at length, I guess. So I'm very glad you asked, Renato!