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Scoring Baseball: Gateway To Loving A Great Game
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Scoring baseball games may be the best way to introduce the casual fan to the many fine elements of America’s pastime. Through the simple act of scoring baseball games – scorekeeping, it’s called, and games generally have an official scorekeeper – someone who thinks of baseball as a slow, boring game will find what an intricate, complex activity it really is.

As a young man, I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter. After taking a new job in a small town, a veteran sportswriter asked if I enjoyed baseball. I liked playing it but wasn’t much for watching. “You’ll learn to like it here,” he said, explaining that the community had a rich Little League, high school and junior college baseball heritage. He was correct; in sort order, I loved baseball, even watching baseball.

Why? Well, I saw good teams play, but the main reason was not that simple. I learned more about what goes on in the game, the many decisions that are made, and the numerous and small factors that determine the outcome of each play and, eventually, the game. Scoring baseball games was the key.

Let me explain. Scoring baseball games means keeping an account, on a score sheet, of what happens in the game. Some people just keep track of outs, hits and scores. That’s fine and a good place to start, but my breakthrough to understanding was the result of tracking every pitch. I liked to say that I could reconstruct an entire game with my scorebook. That’s a helpful tool because you do not know what play will end up being particularly important. An outfielder’s assist in the third inning might prove to be a pivotal point. You’ll see that more clearly when you’re able to review the entire game after the fact.

Here’s my secret to learning to love baseball: The greatest help from scoring baseball is the fact it forces the scorekeeper to actually watch every pitch. In fact, you’ll learn to keep an eye on what happens between the pitches. Defensive players are shifted one way or another for different batters. The catcher shifts position at the last second to avoid tipping off the batter. Middle infielders signal each other about who will take the throw should a runner try to steal second. The pitcher checks with them to see who is covering the base should he field a grounder with a runner on first.

And each pitch is like a chess move. You’ve thrown two fastballs in a row, so you might come in with a curveball to throw off the batter’s timing. However, he’ll expect that, so maybe you’ll throw a fastball inside before he can react to it. The catcher will signal to the pitcher what he thinks should happen; the pitcher might agree or might “shake him off” and consider the next suggestion. Or the coach signals the catcher what to do and he passes it on to the pitcher.

When you’re scoring baseball games, you start to pick up on these and many other finer points on the field. You will find the game much more enjoyable to watch and to discuss with your kids or other spectators. It is not such a boring game, after all.

 


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