Archive for the 'Baseball' Category

Apr 02 2014

The unclimbed

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

I was way too wimpy to ever climb a Cotuit water tower as a kid. I know those who did. One went on to feel perfectly at ease jumping out of airplanes. I am so freaked out by heights that I get weird thinking about heights.  (A Cub Scout expedition to the top of a fire tower in Georgetown, Massachusetts in 1966 ended with me clutching the bannister of the open metal-grate stairs and having to have my fingers pried off by my mother the Den Mother). Anyway, I went for my daily constitutional behind the ball park where the land is at risk of being developed unless the Barnstable Land Trust can raise enough $$$ to buy it and save the Kettleer's home field, Lowell Park, from having some starter castles in the outfield.  Give today.  The pink surveyor ribbons are in the woods!

One response so far

Apr 01 2014

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote…

Published by under Baseball

A. Bartlett Giamatti was the president of Yale when I was a student there in the late 1970s. I had lunch with him once and the conversation was unfortunately about comparative literature and the poetry of Spenser, one of his many academic specialties. I was bitching about my experience in English 101, a prerequisite for English majors at Yale which ran both the fall and spring terms of my freshman year and was without a doubt the most frustrating class I've ever taken -- sort of an evil bootcamp designed to weed out the wimps from what was arguably the best English literature department in the US. I made a wisecrack about a student who wrote a dreary paper about reptile symbols in The Faerie Queen and he shook his hand in the universal gesture of beating off (or so I interpreted it) and went back to asking the rest of the table about how they felt about college life in general. I wanted to tell him I found it highly strange that I had to spend time in the Yale language lab with a set of headphone on my stoned head, listening to someone read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in a sing-song voice like a parody of a Scandanavian when I was in school to read the King's English goddammit, and not pick through some mongrel predecessor that opened my education with these familiar words:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

We didn't talk about baseball. I had no idea he was into baseball. I didn't watch the game in college. I never once went out to the ancient Yale ballfield where George Bush and Ron Darling had pitched (Ron was a contemporary and also a renowned Cotuit Kettleers). I barely passed English 101 and quickly shifted to American History after a disastrous freshman year.

Giamatti, a Bostonian, was a life-long Red Sox fan. He  declared once that his life's ambition was to become president of the American League. In 1986 his wish was almost granted and he became president of the National League, graduating to the top job of Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1989-- a job he held less than six months -- long enough for him to banish Pete Rose -- before dying at 51 of a heart attack on Martha's Vineyard (he smoked).

Of course his son, the actor Paul Giamatti, was a Yalie.

So back to yesterday, March 31, Opening Day. The reigning World Champion Red Sox opened the season down in Baltimore's Camden Yards  and lost to the Birds 2 to 1 in a nice game under sunny skies while up here Massachusetts endured another day of "wintry mix" and "thunder snow." Watching the last two innings, I thought about Giamatti's finest contribution to baseball, his written love letter to it: The Green Fields of the Mindthe oft-quoted poetic elegy to the national pastime.

"The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."

No responses yet

Mar 21 2014

A made man

Published by under Baseball

2014-03-21 13.24.00

 

2014-03-21 13.38.19

 

So I cleared the US Customs "Global Entry Program" which means no more lines when I go hither and fro from the UK to the States. One of the customs officers asked if I was a Red Sox fan, a safe question to answer in a National League city, and he waxed poetic about his ambition to see the inside of Olde Fenway. I told him I was a season ticket holder, which is like wearing a pinkie ring and driving a Caddy for the Gambino Family when it comes to being a made man in Boston. I passed the background check which means I get to be that douchebag you hate. That guy who can breeze through the TSA with his belt and shoes on, laptop and liquids safe in his bag. Tis the season of being licensed and ticketed. I feel highly important as a result.

4 responses so far

Mar 11 2014

Spring Fever Baseball

Published by under Baseball,Cotuit

The Red Sox better mail me my season tickets soon or I'll begin to panic and start stalking them. I even checked my online bank register the other day to make sure the check I mailed in cleared last December. Season tickets are now my second worst non-renewal nightmare, up there with the falling-off-the-cliff and underwear-in-the-highschool-hallway dreams.. The first nightmare of non-renewal will always be my mooring permits from the Town of Barnstable.

My first game will be April 8 vs. the Rangers. Something tells me after this winter that I will not be wearing my "Thaw Ted" t-shirt and shorts that Tuesday evening but will probably have more layers of wool going on than a Yukon prospector.

So, randomly, here's the first bright sign of spring: one of my favorite Cotuit Kettleers blew everyone away during a recent Red Sox spring season game down in Jupiter, Florida.   I'm talking Deven Marrero, the Arizona State phenomenon my Cotuit baseball buddies and I adopted as most-likely-to-succeed in the 2010  championship season when he hit .306 as a freshman, returning the next year to play 12 games in the 2011 season and hit .346.  The guy is an incredible fielder.

Gordon Edes wrote last week that Marrero is the Red Sox rookie to watch this year and a strong candidate for the Sox's future shortstop:

"The beauty of spring training is that you never know when or where the next coming-out party will be, and who will emerge from the shadows to declare themselves a major leaguer-in-waiting.

Last spring it was outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., grabbing us with the virtuosity of his all-around play in Fort Myers. In 2005, it was a cocky Class A reliever named Jonathan Papelbon, who responded to a teammate being hit by a pitch in Fort Lauderdale by buzzing slugger Sammy Sosa with a high, hard one.

And Thursday afternoon here in Roger Dean Stadium, with the Red Sox leaving nearly all of their regulars back in Fort Myers, 23-year-old shortstop Deven Marrero, who went to high school about 70 minutes away from here (American Heritage School in Plantation), became the latest Red Sox rookie to seize his moment.

[+] EnlargeMarrero

AP Photo/Mike JanesShortstop Devin Marrero (above, coaching first base in a spring training game last year) flashed impressive defensive ability against the Marlins.

Marrero did so with a fielding exhibition worthy of Cirque du Soleil, one in which he displayed spectacular range diving for a ball up the middle, showed off his aerodynamic capacity while completing a double play and handled everything else hit his way with soft hands and a strong arm.

"My gosh, he put on a display defensively," manager John Farrell said after a scoreless game between the Sox and Miami Marlins that was shortened to 7 2/3 innings by a late-afternoon deluge.

Which brings me to this year's Kettleer's roster which is live on the team site.  I'll get off my butt and do the usual OCD Google-Baseball America scouting report but past experience tells me that a good number of these names won't make it to Cotuit due to the usual Team USA/College World Series conflicts. It is always nice to see returning players and this year's squad had four alumni from last summer's championship team.

PHOTOS # NAME POS B/T HT WT YEAR SCHOOL
Barrera, Tres C R/R 6'2 195 2017 Texas
Bozoian, Vahn OF R/R 6'5 210 2016 USC
Carmichael, Jay RHP R/R 6'2 175 2016 Florida
Copping, Calvin RHP R/R 6'3 180 2016 Cal St Northridge
Duke, Travis LHP L/L 6'2 220 2016 Texas
Eicholtz, Nick RHP R/R 6'4 180 2017 Alabama
Fisher, Jameson C/INF L/R 6'2 180 2016 SE Louisiana
Fulmer, Carson RHP R/R 5'11 190 2016 Vanderbilt
Haynie, Will C/INF R/R 6'5 225 2017 Alabama
Henderson, Spencer LHP/1B L/L 6'3 215 2016 UC Davis
Holder, Kyle INF L/R 6'1 185 2016 U. San Diego
Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4 10 Jackson, Drew INF R/R 6'2 195 2016 Stanford
James, Logan LHP L/L 5'11 185 2016 Stanford
Leftwich, Luke RHP R/R 6'3 200 2016 Wofford
McClelland, Jackson RHP R/R 6'5 220 2016 Pepperdine
Melton, Hunter INF R/R 6'2 225 2016 Texas A&M
Minter, A.J. LHP L/L 6'0 200 2016 Texas A&M
Parks, Adam RHP R/R 6'2 220 2016 Liberty
Photos: 2, 3, 4 2 Schrock, Max INF L/R 5'9 180 2016 South Carolina
Photos: 2 14 Stubbs, Garrett C L/R 5'10 160 2015 USC
Taylor, Jeremy OF L/L 6'2 178 2016 East Tennessee St.
Taylor, Logan INF R/R 6'1 200 2016 Texas A&M
Tewes, Sam RHP R/R 6'5 205 2017 Wichita St.
Vogel, Matthew RHP R/R 6'2 185 2017 South Carolina
Wingenter, Trey RHP R/R 6'7 195 2016 Auburn
Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4 8 Wiseman, Rhett OF L/R 5'11 190 2016 Vanderbilt

And being all springlike (since the clock did its thing and make it at least sunny at 6 pm albeit a balmy 20 degrees), I'll drag the boat to the boat guy next week for a pre-season tuneup and start stalking those wily clams awaiting me. I was in London the past two weeks and they have full daffodils and crocuses (Crocii?) which was nice to see. Otherwise, mud season approacheth and I need a baseball game to get me out of this spleenish winter funk.

One response so far

Dec 14 2013

Keep Lowell Park Green

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

An important part of any decent baseball park isthe "batter's eye" -- a blank segment of the outfield, unpopulated by bleacher seats or billboards -- a dark backdrop behind the pitcher hat lets the batter see the ball against a solid backdrop. Baseball is full of legends, and one has it that the fans of one home team, before the advent of the batter's eye, would conspire to wear white t-shirts to make it difficult for the visiting team's batters to see the ball come off of the pitcher's hand, and then change to black shirts when the home team came up to bat. Given that sportswriters have declared in a poll that the hardest thing to do in all of sports is to hit a major league fastball, the batters need all the help they can get.

Cotuit's Elizabeth Lowell Memorial Park is unique among all of the Cape Cod Baseball League's ten ballparks in that its batter's eye is an uninterrupted wall of green pine and scrub oaks, a stretch of green that embraces the park on all sides. No houses are visible. No signs. Nothing. Just a big piece of green that is part of one of Cotuit's best green spaces. The scoreboard, the flag pole, a few fans in lawn chairs, kids optimistically waiting around to shag home runs, and occasional dog walker are all there is out there to break out the perfect green expanse. Spend some time following the Kettleers to other ball fields and you'll quickly learn how blessed we are in Cotuit to have the best park on the Cape. According to the Kettleers coach Mike Roberts: "The still, green backdrop makes Lowell Park the best field for hitters in the Cape League. What a shame it would be to lose that."

outfield

Lowell Park is undeniably one of the most unique ball fields in America, and readers of a certain vintage will remember when Sports Illustrated made the park famous with an aerial view that put the little green gem in context with the blue waters of Cotuit Bay and the golden strand of Sampson's Island in the background. I've got a framed copy of an aerial shot by my neighbor Paul Rifkin on the wall of my office.

I was at a dinner in San Diego last week with some colleagues and discussion eventually turned to sports. Of course everyone wanted to ask me, the Boston guy about the Red Sox but I told them the story of Cotuit baseball instead: of watching games for free in barefeet as the best college ball players in the country showed off their skills  to pro scouts in the most competitive and prestigious summer wooden-bat league in the nation. I used my phone to bring up from Flickr one of those of iconic aerial photos of the perfect park buried in a sea of green trees with the harbor and Nantucket Sound in the background and then passed it around. That picture said it all.

Thanks to the generosity of the Lowell family, one of Cotuit's stalwart summer families, the forest behind the baseball park has been offered to the Barnstable Land Trust for the very reasonable price of $1.8 million. The BLT has a year to raise the money and I write today to urge my fellow Cotusions to dig deep and do their financial best to help preserve not only the Kettleer's batter's eye, but to keep one of the village's best green spaces green. This land is near the village well fields, backs up to the western half of Mosswood Cemetary (where a recent proposal to build a solar array was thankfully thwarted), and is part of the great stretch of green that welcomes a person arriving in Cotuit on Putnam Avenue, a nearly uninterrupted piece of forest filled with deer, turtles and foxes that includes Eagle Pond, the Bell Farm, the cemetery and the wonderful field at the curve of Putnam and Maple where the yacht club stows its Cotuit Skiffs during hurricanes.

The Lowell family could doubtlessly make some developer happy at two or three times the price and nine starter castles and McMansions could get shoved into the 19 acress of woods. But not if we dig deep and give ourselves and Cotuit baseball a gift of green. A couple things about the fundraiser. While the ballpark is owned by the town, some of it intrudes onto private property (the visitor's bullpen allegedly). This not only makes for great baseball and will help keep the Kettleers the best team in the league, but is a huge step to preserve Cotuit's green space and keep another subdivision from further eroding the charm of the village.

Here's a link to the donation page for the Lowell Park fund on the Barnstable Land Trust's website.

No responses yet

Oct 31 2013

The greatest year of baseball ever … like ever

Published by under Baseball,General,Red Sox

It will take a better statistician than me to make the case that the 2013 Boston Red Sox are the best, or second best, or whatever best team in the history of the club. I can't speak to anything first-hand experience back to 1967, when I was nine years old and playing bad first-base in the Georgetown, Massachusetts rec department's Farm League (pre-Little League) using an antique pancake mitt handed down from my grandfather, a relic I hated at the time but really wish I had today.  That Impossible Dream team will always be the most vivid. 1975 was frankly a blur. The 1986 Buckner team was the most evil in its wicked mental torments. The Curse-bursting 2004 team the most blessed. The 2007 the most capable. But this one....I don't know, they just played wicked good and seemed to have fun and a showed lot of respect for the laundry.

Basking in the morning-after-glow of a great World Series game, everyone wants to roll over in bed,hug the lovable, bearded rascals and say, "I love you. Let's do it again." Sometime in the next few days the team will pile into the duck boats and parade around a happy city and Boston will have its moment finally after a baseball season that started fresh and raw and unknown in April and ended six months later the way the movies would have wanted it to.

Painting the house in April, on the ladder, WEEI kept me company on those chilly weekend afternoons with Joe Castiglione and Dave O'Brien calling the games in between Verizon Wireless and Shaw's Supermarket Little Debbie Snack Cake ads. As I scraped and prepped I kept an ear tuned for that tell-tale rise in excitement in their voices and listened as a lot of new names made their debut .Would I have called it then? Would I have made the prediction they'd go all the way "from worst to first?" Of course not, I was thinking maybe they'd get the wildcard but not make it past Toronto or Detroit. I trusted the new manager, John Farrell, solely on the basis of his killer jaw-line and that calm Gary Cooper demeanor so calm and firmly assuring after the Howdy Doody persona of his ill-fated predecessor Bobby "Did You Know He Invented the Wrap?" Valentine.

Then the Brothers Tsarnaev did their heinous deeds.

Suddenly the Red Sox were carrying a lot more psychic weight than just trying to redeem themselves from the days of Chicken-and-Beer and their last place finish the year before. They came home from the road trip and one could feel the city latch onto them, beseeching them to make it okay, to bring back the calm rhythms of a sunny afternoon game in Fenway, to sing the songs and chant the chants they cheered and sang the year before and the year before that. The Red Sox couldn't to carry the weight of the Marathon. They were happy to accept it and gracious in allowing Fenway to become the city's church and place of mourning; but as John Lester said, the team didn't have much to offer other than provide a diversion to get people's minds off the mess.

Boston is a city of ghosts where nothing really changes, a place with a ring of road salt rime around the cuffs of its pants; a pissed-off, wind chapped, itchy skin, sleet smeared windshield, can-you-fucking-believe-they-closed-the-Hilltop? town that isn't nearly as liberal as the rest of the country thinks it is, a college town that doesn't love the students who infest it, a kind of ugly place that retreats into its clannish neighborhoods, scores an eight-ball of whizzer and looks down at the bandwagon yuppies in their pink hats who sing "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth inning.

That horrible song with no connection what-so-ever to Boston or baseball is never going away. When The Neil Himself showed up and sang the damn thing at the Post-Marathon mourning session I gave up my campaign to ban it and just thank edthe Baseball Gods that we don't need to wave Surrender Towels like every other team's fans seem to need to do along with ring cowbells and follow big LED jumbotron exhortations to Make. Some. Noise.  It is said that Red Sox fans are the tenth player on the roster. This sentimental, formerly cursed nation that cheers from Woonsocket to Millinocket (and who, after breaking the Curse in 2004 lugged team gear and flowers to the graves of their dearly departed so they could join in the celebration too) these fans like the loud, crazed drunk I once watched in a black and orange knit wool Bruins cap sitting behind the visitors bullpen who taunted J.D. Drew non-stop for collecting too much salary, and then who scornfully caught, barehanded, a Yankee homer whacked at him by the despised A-Rod and then hucked it back onto the field without a second thought or spilling a single drop of his $8.50 cup of 'Gansett.

I'm just glad to have the chance watch it all with my sons and my mother and my sister and my brother-in-law and nephews.  Crowded around a television. Screaming and high-fiving. Drinking too much on a school night while layered in a #38 Schilling t-shirt with a Mike Lowell 2007 World Series MVP team jersey on over that, and a nasty smelly blue Red Sox hat speckled with bottom paint.

I doubt this fan will ever see a year of baseball like he saw in 2013 -- a double-headed championship crown that started with the Cotuit Kettleers and ends with the Olde Towne Team triumphant.

And David Ortiz is getting a statue in front of Fenway. Just saying.

3 responses so far

Oct 14 2013

It’s a David Ortiz World and We Just Live In It

Published by under Baseball,General

This is why I watch baseball.

One response so far

Sep 09 2013

With the Red Sox, nothing is a sure thing

Published by under Baseball

The Red Sox bandwagon is officially rolling. The checkout lady at the grocery store told me "Go Sox" yesterday and the simple fact that I am screaming at the television set late in the games is a leading indicator that post-season fever is building.

It was with some superstition that I saw this post-season probabilities chart on MLB.com that give the Sox a 100% chance of making the post-season. Sorry, but the magic number is down to 12 to keep Tampa out and dependent on the wild card. Nothing is 100%, especially since the Sox set the record for the worst September meltdown in the history of the game back in 2011, the season of beer and chicken.

Yet here is proof some statistical, Monte Carlo simulating fool thinks the Red Sox are a sure thing. Bring on the Rays and I have tickets for Friday's game against the Yankees at home:

sox

One response so far

Aug 23 2013

Baseball Scorekeeper

Published by under Baseball,Books

I switched scorebooks this summer in the interest of checking out some alternatives. I started scoring with the free cards the Cotuit Kettleers used to hand out as recently as 2009, but have since migrated to spiral-bound books of scoring blanks.

The standby for me for the past three seasons  has been C.S. Peterson's Scoremaster. I would order one or two every spring from Amazon for $7 (though the vendor claims a massive discount from a list price of $30 which is absurd because I don't remember paying close to that).

Here's a scoresheet from Peterson:

petersons

 

Apologies in advance as the scan doesn't do much justice to the detail on the form, but there it is. Pretty dense, kind of cramped, but it did the job for the most part and didn't have any obvious irritations.

Peterson's is a good book. I'm familiar with it, it has a pitch count tracker which one can see on the far right. It is soft covered so it isn't very rigid in the lap and it has no pockets to stash ticket stubs, 50-50 raffle tickers, or other detritrus picked up at the ball park.

This summer I tried something new, a very trendy super scorebook complete with an introduction, a set of how-to-score instructions, a fold-out cheat sheet with common symbols and abbreviations, and yes, a memento pocket inside of the back cover.  This version is called the Baseball Scorekeeper and is priced at $13.56 onb Amazon, twice the Peterson price. It even has co-authors, Stuart Miller and Zack Hemple.

I liked it. It was a little basic but it also got the job done, it just didn't get to the level of obsessive detail that Peterson's does. The lack of a pitch count tracker was an issue, and the player hit column just noted hits, not doubles, triples, etc.

scorekeeper

 

I'd recommend the Scorekeeper to a beginner, wish Peterson's came in a hardcover version and while I'm giving advice, would tell the Scorekeeper guys to consider an elastic band of some sort -- like Moleskin notebooks have -- to help hold the thing together when it is folded open and both sides are in use.

Next season I'll try something else.

And to hell with scorekeeping apps. Yes yes yes I've heard of Gamechanger, and have tried the iScore app. Only douchebags take tablets to ballgames unless they're getting paid to bring one there. Give me paper and pencil and a bag of peanuts in the shell.

No responses yet

Aug 16 2013

Saw the Game. Bought the Shirt

Published by under Baseball,Cotuit

image

One response so far

Aug 16 2013

That Championship Series

Published by under Baseball

The Cotuit Kettleers won the 2013 Cape Cod Baseball League championship last night in Orleans over the eastern division champions, the Orleans Firebirds, in a two game sweep that ended with a 6-1 score. The win earned Cotuit its 16th league championship, it's second in the last four years.

For the last two months – beginning on June 12 at home against Chatham – the Kettleers put a great team of talented college ball players on the field of "beautiful, pristine, picturesque Lowell Park." Although a mere four players were on the roster for the entire season and a total of 50 or more players cycled in and out of the dugout due to the professional draft, Team USA, and the early opening of the school year, the team, like every team before them, came together with their own unique personality and presence, growing from strangers to adopted sons in a mere eight weeks of intense, daily play.

I'm happy to have seen more than a dozen of those games, most of them at home here in Cotuit where I can walk to the park in less than ten minutes, in bare feet, toting my little Kettleers bag (sons call it my "man purse") carrying my scorebook, water bottle, wallet, phone and bag of peanuts left over from the last game. I divided my time between the home stands along the third-base line and the more capacious and new visitors' bleachers along the first (where I can get a better view of the batters and also slightly annoy the visitors by cheering for the home team in their midst). Any baseball game that I can walk to in bare feet and watch for free (other than a grateful donation tossed into the plastic kettles carried around by Alan Blanchette's squad of little kids) is great baseball, win or lose.

My personal highlight of the season was the July 13 game at home against Hyannis, when Mike Ford, back for his second stint in Cotuit, went four-for-four, hitting a first inning home run, two singles, and another homer in the eighth to drive in a total of five runs. That was probably the best single performance I've ever seen in Cotuit; it was with mixed regret and pride that I cheered the news that Ford had been drafted by the Yankees and went off immediately in late July to play for the Staten Island Yankees for the remainder of the summer season before finishing his education this fall at Princeton. He entered that game leading the league with a .370 average and departed it with an astonishing .420 – a spectacular number if one considers that the Cape Cod Baseball League is one of the few wooden-bat summer leagues, often the players' first introduction to ash or hickory, a difficult transition for some, and the reason so many pro scouts flock to the fields in July to see how well the sluggers can adapt. Ford adapted and left Cotuit a guy to watch in the future.

YouTube Preview Image

The names on the roster in early June seem so familiar now as I read back through the scorebook: Zimmer, Diggar, Rosen, Kiene, Mazieka, Castellano, Cole, Cribbs, Bradley, Walsh … but flip ahead through the stained and tattered pages to last night's game and only one, Zimmer (the MVP of the championship series who left the team to play in Japan and for Team USA before returning) is a repeat. Many of the post-season stars were very recent arrivals, joining in the last two weeks to patch the holes on the dugout and bullpen benches. They will also be remembered for a long time to come.

I've read in the Cape Cod Times that the Kettleer's coach Mike Roberts estimates that 50 players cycled through the roster this year, a level of churn that must be grueling to manage as players come and go due to injuries, the pro draft, and other caprices of the summertime.

Mike Roberts is a constant. This was his tenth season with Cotuit and he's become a beloved figure in the village, peddling his bike up and down Main Street, rolling into the driveway to say hello, raising funds to improve the ballpark and settling into the community as one of its most colorful characters. His style of play – "Roberts SmallBall" the fans call it – is an education in the game itself; a constant strategic game of inches, of bunts and double steals, hit-and-runs, suicide squeezes … there isn't an opportunity that goes unexploited and I imagine for any player fortunate enough to get invited to Cotuit they come away with an intense education in base running and strategy unavailable anywhere else (Mike's son Brian Robert, second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, was the stolen-base king a few years back and played for his father when Mike was coaching the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

The real hero of Cotuit isn't a player, the coach, or any individual. It's got to be the Cotuit Athletic Association, a largely anonymous, unsung collection of volunteers who raise the money, pass the kettles, mow the lawn, sell the 50-50 raffle tickets, staff the t-shirt store, house and feed the players, manage the website and drive the players to-and-from the airport. This isn't a group of folks who want to bask in the reflected glory of the players (Ron Darling, Chase Utley, Joe Girardi are some former Kettleers), these are genuinely devoted fans who work very hard delivering the best, free, family-friendly baseball experience available anywhere. They manage the interns, pick up the trash, sweep out the stands and recruit next year's roster all while working with their backs to the field and the game they love so fans like me can sit in the top row keeping score, talking trash, and applauding.

There's good reason for the myth of Cape Cod baseball in a game drenched in myth, it's a myth earned and deserved and goes far deeper than the usual glib shorthand description of "the best college ballplayers facing wooden bats and a daily game schedule for the first time in their careers under the scrutiny of pro scouts in quaint seaside ball parks." Movies, books, and countless blog posts and tweets have been expended on this league and its alumni, (and here comes one more). But the common theme that has emerged for me over the years is that the volunteers are the constant (see my ode to Ivan Partridge below), the players are ephemeral, few staying more than one season, and the fans are mixture of close family, friends, regulars and hardcore eccentric fans (some of whom have earned nicknames from me and my crew as "The Clapper", "The Fountain of Misinformation," "Bookworm" etc.); and of course the random parade visitors and tourists stopping by for a game to check out the myth and legend of Cape Cod baseball.

With no parade or celebration to mark their victory, this year's Kettleers are doubtlessly packing up their duffel bags this morning and getting ready for a ride to the airport, on their way back to Vanderbilt, Stanford, Concordia, NC State. Lowell Park will go quiet, the snack bar will cook no more, the volunteers will keep mowing the grass and eventually the tarps will cover the pitcher's mound and the place will return to the dog walkers while the weeds keep growing through the cracks in the parking lot. The coach might relax for a few days, but doubtlessly he's already recruiting the 2014 squad, and in a few weeks, at Bruce Hall in the Cotuit Federated Church, the Cotuit Athletic Association will gather to start planning for opening day next June.

For the first time in a few years I'm not in my usual post-season depression. Yes, I'll turn my attention to the Red Sox for the next two months, keep reading a steady stream of baseball books (my guilty pleasure) and continue my Walter Mitty fantasy of one day be sitting in the stands, scorebook in my lap, debating with myself over whether to mark that play a hit or an error, when a call goes out over the PA: "Is there a scorer in the house?"

I'll be ready.

 

No responses yet

Aug 12 2013

Have a Hit

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod

I thought I heard Ivan Partridge yelling tonight at the baseball game. He used to stand by the gate in the chain link backstop next to the Kettleer's dugout, fingers laced in the green wire, bellowing his exhortation to men at least 70 years his junior to "Have a Hit." I haven't seen him this summer. I hope he's doing well.

There are t-shirts sold that bear that slogan.

Once, in Zebulon, North Carolina, at a Carolina Mud Cats game, I saw an ex-Kettleer come to the plate. He'd spent the summer rooming at my sister's place, an adopted member of the family who loomed over backyard cookouts and exuded the kind of vitality that only a 19 year old in the prime of life has.

As he stepped to the plate, I put down my scorecard and yelled in my best Ivan imitation, "Have a Hit!"

The batter turned, a long way from Lowell Park, and for a moment he searched the grandstands for the tall old man who had urged him on a few summers before.

I thought for a second that I heard Ivan tonight. The Cotuit home stands were chanting "HAVE A HIT" and for a second I could swear I could hear Ivan's tremulous voice above the mob's. It was a good game, a great game, the Kettleers won the western division of the Cape Cod Baseball League and will advance to the finals tomorrow.

But Ivan wasn't there.

I didn't see Ivan at any home games this summer.  He made a few some last year, standing (never sitting) behind the Cotuit bat boys at his place on the fence right by the steps up into the stands. He usually came late in the game, a tall man in a cranberry red Kettleer's windbreaker even on the hottest of days, his eyes wrapped with big sunglasses. When he was really worked up he'd face the home stands and exhort everyone to make some noise and let the boys know how much we appreciate them.

Ivan Partridge is director emeritus of the Cotuit Athletic Association, the volunteer organization that pulls together the entire magnificent season throughout the year. He was a fixture at Lowell Park, past president of the CAA, the man who led the little kids with the plastic kettles through the stands during the fifth inning to solicit donations from the fans who had paid no admission to see the best amateur baseball in the world. My favorite CCBL blog, CodBall, called him a "superfan." They interviewed him a few  years ago here. The Barnstable Patriot wrote a wonderful profile here.

He was a former Episcopalian minister and volunteer fireman.

I miss hearing him call out his friendly offering to every Kettleer as they step into the batter's box, and his hope the other team will "Have an Out." I hope to see him soon.

 

 

No responses yet

Jun 12 2013

Opening Day

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

The real opening day is today, Wednesday June 12 in Cotuit. I'm clearing the calendar and hitting the road from NYC a lot earlier than usual so I can cover the 250 miles in time.  I found this little gem of a promo on the Kettleer's website.

YouTube Preview Image

No responses yet

Jun 05 2013

2013 Cotuit Kettleers Unofficial Schedule

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

Not finding a digital version of the 2013 Kettleers' schedule on the team's website, I manually made a simple one in Google Calendar.

The XML version is here: https://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/iokp41b1c1s8djcsd999ic1t40%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic

The iCal version: https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/iokp41b1c1s8djcsd999ic1t40%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics

and the HTML version for access through any browser: https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=iokp41b1c1s8djcsd999ic1t40%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York

The official version can be found on kettleers.org here.

Opening Day is Wednesday June 12 at Lowell Park.

One response so far

May 13 2013

In a baseball state of mind

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

I painted the bottom of the boat yesterday and realized as I got more and more woozy from the fumes of the bottom paint (nothing like a lungful of a substance designed to kill barnacles and slime to make one feel good about one's self) that it's one of my favorite chores -- not because of the satisfaction of the job well done -- but because of the simple pure pleasure of listening to a baseball game on the radio.

Even though the radio broadcast a terrible game as  the Red Sox went down in flames on Mother's Day,  listening to them do so, while outside on a splendid May afternoon, paint brush in hand, is one of those quintessential multitasking things that make me happy.

Then, this morning, in a grand birthday gesture, the Red Sox ticket office phoned to let me know my patient stint on the season ticket waiting list was over and I am now an official season ticket holder. I decided to start small and took seven games in the bleachers -- where it all began for me so many years ago -- and must confess to a feeling of personal real estate ownership out there by the Pesky Pole in right field in section L43, Row 32, on the aisle in seats 1&2. This is my view more or less.

myseats

At the hardware store yesterday -- on one of three trips for screws, nuts, washers, etc. -- the guy behind the register saw my Cotuit Kettleers hat, the nasty sweat-stained one I use for painting, and asked when the season was going to start: "June 12 at home against Orleans," I replied, a Wednesday I will make sure I am in Cotuit for and not behind my desk in New York City.

The Kettleer newsletter arrived this weekend with the good news that the Cotuit Athletic Association has renewed Coach Mike Roberts' contract for another three years. He's been with the Kettleers since 2003 and is a genuinely wonderful man, the kind of guy who appears out of nowhere on the morning of the Library's annual book sale to help lug boxes of books out of the basement and onto the tables set up on the front lawn. Coach Roberts is a baseball legend. He coached the Tarheels for a very long time, is the father of Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, and headmaster of the Roberts School of Cape Cod Small Ball, his annual training camp for the best  collegiate freshmen and sophomore ball players in the intricacies of the hit-and-run, sacrifice bunts, the double-steal, and even, swear to god, the hidden ball trick. One of his proteges, Vanderbilt's Mike Yaztrkemski, was the subject of a great Tyler Kepner profile in the Sunday New York Times.

With a new snackbar and restroom, the ball park is looking sharp for the 2013 season, testimony to the CAA's fundraising efforts and the loyalty of Cotuit's fans.

5 responses so far

Apr 01 2013

Opening Day and All is Right With the World

Published by under Baseball

1:05 PM is the first pitch of the 2013 season, kicking off in New York in the stadium we know in Boston as "The Toilet."

The slate is clean, there are no sinners, no saints, just nothing but smooth sailing from here to October. After this winter of blizzardry and grey nothing is better to lift the sodden hearts of New England than a new season of baseball with a new manager and some new faces.

So Tyler Kepner in the New York Times yesterday predicted the Sox will finish second to last in the American League East, one bit better than the Yankees. Okay.  Whatever. At least the complaining that no teams other than the Yanks or the Sox have a chance in the AL East seems to have subsided.  And a crappy season means I might move up on the waiting list for season tickets. I am not one for predictions but I came close last year in calling for Detroit. Something tells me Kepner is kind of correct in calling for an off-season for the Sox and Yankees. Neither team made any jaw dropping acquisitions over the winter and the heroes of the last decade are all getting on in years. So much so that the New Yorker has the Yankees posed with walkers and canes.

Now closer to home, the Cotuit Kettleers' opening day is June 12 at home vs. Orleans. The Cotuit Athletic Association has been busy all winter building a new set of bathrooms and a new snack bar behind the home grandstand and big campaign drive signs exhorting the village to "Have a Hit" are up on the corners of Lowell Avenue. The 2013 roster has been posted for a while now, but I've learned from past analysis not to put much stock in the team which always changes due to the whims of the college championships, Team USA selection, and the host of other distractions that siphons players off of the roster and elsewhere on the collegiate baseball circuit.

I may be all serene and spring feverish this fine April day, but by October I doubtlessly be in full Keitel mode (NSFW):

YouTube Preview Image

One response so far

Jan 19 2013

Hall of Infamy

Published by under Baseball

Mike Albrecht is a good buddy and fellow baseball fiend who called me out yesterday for not ranting over the fact that no was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. I don't put much stock in the Hall and am not much of a baseball historian, but the news comes down to this: the voters decided not to put anybody up for immortality on a bronze plaque because so many of the candidates were admitted dopers from the Steroid Era. Will some of the big names eventually find redemption and get elected? Sure. Forgiveness comes with time and they 15 years to find it.

Baseball players aren't known for being the paragons of athleticism. You can be a fat f%&k and have a successful career swinging the bat and ambling down the base paths like a bear chasing a cart covered with cookies. A few mediocre players discovered the wonders of steroids in the 1990s, went from skinny to ripped, knocked the cover off of the ball and made the American Pastime a joke. When Barry Bond's baseball that broke Hank Aaron's home run record was put up for auction, the buyer gave the fans a choice of possible fates for the souvenir, one of which was to brand it with an asterix of infamy, or blow it up. I was a blow-it-up vote.

The concept of clean sport is a joke and went out the window when the English Etonian concept of amateurism died with the death of WASP establishment in the 1970s.  Sailing used to have a rule that no logos other than a little sailmakers badge was allowed on a boat.  Today the America's Cup boats have big BMW and Red Bull logos on their synthetic sails like luffing billboards. Rowing kicked Grace Kelly's father out of the Henley Royal Regatta because he was a bricklayer and it was thought that blue collar rowers  had a manual labor training advantage. Baseball is just a pack of good old boys who were late to the drug party and decided to ass some growth hormones to their steady diet of Chick-Fil-A and Burger King. Any one who looked at cycling before Lance came along, and thought it was a clean sport in some romantic Greek Olympian ideal of pure competition is a romantic stoner. The Tour de France has a noble history of cheating, lying and stealing with competitors hopping trains, throwing tacks on the road, and taking The Cocaine to get themselves up and over the mountains.

Doped vs. clean classes of competition is the only way to go. Let science and Big Pharma sponsor the Tour of California (oh, wait, that's right, Amgen, the makers of EPO already sponsors the Tour of California) and put their best chemicals on display and let the no-logo, my-body-is-a-temple crowd have their own pure competition.

But for baseball, a sport of inches, let me point out that the miracle of Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS between the Sox and the Yankees came down to a matter of inches when Dave Roberts stole that base and beat Posada's throw to second. The timing, the distance, the margin of error could easily have been influenced by any dope in Posada's arm or Robert's legs and yet, those inches, the most miraculous inches in the history of the game, a margin of miracle so tiny that it's a wonder the people of Boston don't march on City Hall and demand a statue of Roberts be erected in the Common, will always carry a question of whether they were delivered by man or materials.

3 responses so far

Sep 10 2012

On the nobility of Last Place

Published by under Baseball

The Red Sox are in last place and all is right with the world. Why is this right and proper and not cause for lamentation? Letme count the ways:

  1. Tickets: Now I will starting moving up the waiting list for season tickets a little faster.
  2. Pain builds character: After suffering through the special circles of hell in 1967, 1975, 1978, 1986 and 2003 (I had to completely block the team out of my consciousness from 1986 to 2005: a dark and angry 19-year walk in the wasteland) this season and the last feel right and proper. All is now as it should be.
  3. After the binge comes the purge: Ownership took a $250 million salary dump last month and that feels good. Hell, the salaries of our disabled list is bigger than most team's entire payroll.
  4. They are  the "Boston" Red Sox: screw the concept of the "Red Sox Nation" -- Red Sox country starts in potato country up in Aroostook County, Maine and ends in Waterbury, Connecticut. I don't need to see a yuppie in a Red Sox hat in Istanbul's Tahir Square to know the team has global brand recognition. Stick to your own team please. That's why the league expanded to your city in the first place.
  5. The End of the Pink Ass-Hats: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Do away with the Wave, the pink caps, Wally the Mascot, Sweet Caroline, and stop calling it the "Green Monstah": it is the "Wall."
  6. Bring back Tito: okay, he got spanked with a year in Bristol, Connecticut for losing control of the 2011 team, now it's time to bring back Francona and get things back on track.

3 responses so far

Aug 07 2012

And on to the playoffs

Published by under Baseball,Cotuit,General

The Kettleers finished the regular season last night at home against Falmouth, coming from behind to win 8-7. This has been a remarkable team this summer -- they have the best record in the league, clinched first place in the West -- and look very strong going into the playoffs which start tomorrow Thursday (I am looking high and low for a schedule).

After the usual shaky start in June, the team won something like 20 out of its last 24 games, clicking together in an amazing way with five players hitting over .300 and one, Patrick Biondi the center fielder maintaining a .400+ batting average going into this week.

The Perfect Game has named the Kettleers the best college league team in the country:

"As teams from some 30-plus summer college leagues around the country continue to navigate through the most critical stages of the 2012 schedule, the Cape Cod League’s Cotuit Kettleers remain the No. 1 team in Perfect Game’s weekly ranking of the nation’s Top 30 summer clubs.

"Cotuit continues to play at a fast pace with 20 wins in its last 24 games, and has both clinched the Western Division regular-season title in the Cape, along with the league’s best record overall. The Kettleers have just two regular-season games remaining before the first round of the Cape’s eight-team playoff kicks off Thursday.

"If the Kettleers continue their hot pace in post-season play and win their second Cape League title in three years, it may be difficult for any other summer club to overtake them in the chase for No. 1. But it has been four years since the last Cape team with the best regular-season record went on and won the league playoffs."

I'll predict Cotuit vs. Harwich in the finals. Harwich, the winner of the Eastern division will be tough, very tough they looked very strong last Thursday when they beat Cotuit 11 to 5 at home.

 

PS: lest I forget, Lowell Park has some seriously good mojo working this summer, as the local Barnstable American Legion Team, Post 206, won the state championship this summer and is going to fight for a place in the American Legion World Series against Old Orchard Beach in Maine. I caught one of their games at Lowell Park when the Kettleers were on the road and I needed a baseball fix. Says the Boston Herald: "They seek become the 20th team from the Bay State to reach the American League World Series since the inception in 1925."

2 responses so far

Jul 12 2012

On keeping score

Published by under Baseball,General

Once again I find myself compelled against reason to score Cotuit Kettleer games with my trusty spiral-bound faux-red leather covered C.S. Peterson's Scoremaster: Official Baseball and Softball Scorebook.

While I feel self-consciously nerdy and obsessive doing this in public, I find I can't enjoy a three-hour ball game without making little chicken scratches on a paper grid. Nothing comes from it. No results are tabulated, statistics calculated, or reports issued. The only pleasure comes from knowing the record is accurate, the tallies correct, and every so often I'm able to answer a random question from a fellow fan in the bleachers about how many pitches the pitcher has thrown, or what the batter has done in his previous plate appearances.

Typical Churbuck scorecard from 2010 showing Devin Marrero, the Red Sox's top draft pick in the 2012 draft hitting a double in the sixth inning vs. Wareham.

I try not to score. I tried to visit Lowell Park without the scorebook and just try to sit and enjoy the game like every other normal person, but something was missing and so I wound up going to the next game with the old hand-softened book in my hand, festooned with the free Red Sox bumperstickers that come inside of the programs they sell at Fenway. I feel a little self-conscious, and end up answering questions like:

Q: "Why?" A: "Force of habit. It helps me concentrate on the game. Actually it's kind of fun ...." (then I feel pedantic and shut up)

Q: "What do you do with it afterwards?" A: "Nothing. Sometimes I add everything up and see if it agrees with the official scorer's version, but usually I just stick it in a drawer."

Q: "Are you a scout?" A: "I wish. Scouts get to sit right behind home plate with their radar guns."

And yes, when I go to Fenway the scorebook comes with me, and I always dutifully tape the ticket stub to the pages for that game. I see more scorers at Fenway than I do at Kettleer Games.  Arnold Mycock, the general manager emeritus, scores from the stands sometimes, using the free Kettleer scorecards they hand out at the press box. Because of his eminence he is also handed a copy of the lineups before the game, something I wish I could get because getting the lineups down correctly is half the battle.

As I have written here in the past, baseball is a sport uniquely suited to scorekeeping, because the pace and rules as well as the statistical tradition of the game lends itself to being recorded with pencil and paper better than any other sport. One can simply tick off hits, outs, and runs, or one can get very focused and record where hits landed, where pitches were placed, how many pickoff throws the pitcher made, how many fouls were hit .... the output of all this record keeping is the raw data necessary to calculate key statistics such as batting average, runs batted in, earned-run average, and many many others quantitative measures made more popular in this era of Sabermetrics and Moneyball.

It used to be the case that the average fan in the stands would score games. I've heard people reminiscence about their spinster aunt sitting in the back yard on a hot summer day listening to Curt Gowdy call a Red Sox game and keeping score while sipping lemonade and swatting mosquitoes. Find an old black and white photos of the crowd at the Polo Field in New York, or Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, all natty in their fedoras, the men wearing ties, the ladies little hats, and there is a blizzard of white score cards.  In the old days, when scoreboards were manually updated and only showed the inning-by-inning box score (runs, hits, errors), a fan relied on their scorecard to tell them how the batter at the plate had fared at his previous two plate appearances, or which fielder booted the ball and earned an error in the fourth inning.

Connie Mack famously used his scorecard to send signals to his fielders. The statue of him in Philadelphia has him waving a bronze one eternally in the air.

Today I only occasionally spot a fellow scorer. My theory is the practice died off with the rise of the Jumbotron and the instant availability of stats and replays and other data on the big outfield monitors.

It's been said that a good scorecard should be able to be handed to a person with a reasonable knowledge of the game and on its own provide all the information needed for that person to recreate the action in their mind -- inning by inning, pitch by pitch -- of the entire game. The ultimate test of a good scorer would be his ability to capture the precise conditions there were on the field at the moment that game was suspended so, in the future, the game could resume with every player in their proper spot, standing at the same base they were when the game was suspended, the batter facing the same count of balls and strikes.

My scorecards are nowhere close to passing that test for I am usually in a state of befuddlement by the act of scoring despite having done it now at least 100 times. My motto is: Thank god for pencil and erasers.

The rules of baseball are extraordinarily explicit about the duties of the official scorekeeper and the information that person is expected to record. The tenth, and final section of the official rules are devoted to the Scorekeeper. Twenty pages of the rules are devoted to the scorekeeper. Those rules set down the 50+ pieces of information the scorekeeper must record ranging from the names of the umpires to the duration of the game to the names of the batters who hit home runs when the bases were full (Grand Slams). Some of the rules are quaint, such as specifying that the scorekeeper shall sit in the press box and not on the home nor visitors sides of the stands to insure impartiality but also to provide members of the press with information throughout the course of the game. The rules say the scorekeeper is supposed to remind the umpire when there are only two outs but the players think there are three but the scorekeeper has to keep his mouth shut if a batter bats out of order, because it's up to the opposing team's coach or players to detect the infraction and protest. Scorekeepers have 24 hours to change their mind on a play. They can solicit the opinions of others in deciding what to record. But for all the rules governing the art of keeping score, there are no standards for what an official scorecard should look like, nor are there any official shorthand conventions for how to record and track the play-by-play action -- hence a scorecard can vary from one scorekeeper to another. Some are personalized with little diagrams, exclamation points to signify extraordinary plays, notes about the wind, the temperature ....

The big challenge for me is paying attention to what is happening on the field while at the same time tending to my scorecard. If I get too engrossed in the card then I am doomed to miss the play and find myself marking the card with a big "?" or asking those sitting around me for a clue as to what I missed.

I've learned to focus like the proverbial laser -- selfishly blocking out the distracting chatter of my companions -- from the moment the pitcher winds up through the crack of the bat, keeping my eyes on everything that happens until the play concludes, thinking to myself:

"Top of the fourth. Two outs. Count is two and three. Runners on first and second. Third base is open. Number nine hits a frozen-rope single to right, finds the hole between first and second and the runner on first base advances to second, the runner in scoring position (RISP if I am keeping track of how batters are hitting in RISP situations) on second base is rounding third to score, the right fielder (number 13 on his uniform, but number 9 in my scorer's mind) is scooping up the ball and winding up for a long throw to the catcher (number 2) waiting at home plate to catch the runner now rounding third and hauling ass for what looks like an epic collision that has the fans on their feet. Meanwhile the batter has rounded first and is going for second base, the runner originally on first at the start of the play is on third base and being held, The right fielder makes the throw to the catcher but it goes a mile over the catcher's head and winds up at the base of the backstop at the feet of the pro scouts. The pitcher runs to home while the catcher scrambles like a crab looking for the lost ball. The runner from second scores standing up, the crowd freaks out and screams at the runner on third to take advantage of the missed throw and go for home. He takes off and makes it home for the second run. The batter holds at second. Play is dead."

While everyone around me high-fives and claps I sit down, click out another millimeter of pencil lead from my automatic pencil, and start scoring.

From that version of events (as witnessed by me like some undependable postmodernist existential narrator in a Kurosawa film or Thornton Wilder novel) I then have a few seconds before the next batter to record the play. I decide the batter standing on second base got there on an error committed by the right fielder because the right fielder's throw to the catcher was wild and there was no way the catcher could have caught it.  So the box for that batter gets marked with a big "E9". That means the poor batter gets no credit for the double and no credit for the two runs batted in because he made it to base because of the error. The pitcher doesn't get an earned run charged to him because of the error. Check. The base runners who scored both get marked with credits for their runs. All of this is being done with symbols and shorthand-like slashes of the pencil. Each batter and base runner has their own tidy box containing a diagram of the diamond. Every defensive player is referred to by a single digit -- one through nine, beginning with the pitcher who is "1" to the catcher who is "2" on around the infield and into the outfield and ending with the right fielder who is "9" (never to be confused with their uniform number.

Scorekeepers refer to players by their field number only as in saying "That was a 1-2-3 doubleplay" which translated means the pitcher (1)  was quick and caught the line drive on the bounce, threw it back to the catcher (2) to force out the runner coming home from third, and the catcher tossed it to the first baseman (3) in time to catch the original batter trying to make first base. If you think Laurel and Hardy's "Who's On First Routine" is fun, try scoring and getting it through your thick skull that the first baseman is actually a three, not a one, etc.

So back to my fictitious example of paying attention to the many moving parts of a typical exciting baseball play and then trying to write it down. Once I figure out who scored, who was put out, who caught what, threw what, pitched what ..... I write it down before the next batter steps into the box and the mayhem begins all over again. In cases involving errors I seem to constantly be overruled by the official scorer and have to either correct everything to agree with their version or stick to my guns and stay with mine. In my example, the rule governing how to score the play is spelled out in detail by Rule 10.04(a)(2); Runs That Score on Errors.  According to my bible, Andres Wirkmaa's Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules:

"Rule 10.04(a)(2) instructs the official scorekeeper to credit a run batted in to a batter if he puts the ball into play and the defensive team thereupon makes a play, but commits an fielding error in doing so -- and a run scores -- if (and only if) there are less than two outs and the play made by the defensive team is one where a runner from third base would ordinarily score."

Guess what Wirkmaa's day job is? That's right: he's a lawyer. Last week the Cape Cod Times had a story about dog owners pissed off in Brewster because the selectmen banned their pooping pets from the town green. One of the rabble-rousing dog owners fighting the ruling is a New York lawyer named Jordan Sprechman. What caught my attention was the background information that this New York attorney is also an official scorer Major League Baseball. In other words, a Scorekeeping God.

"About twice a week during baseball season, he heads to the press box at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, where he calls errors and hits. In his small script, using all capital letters, he tabulates the statistics at the end of each game for Major League Baseball.

"He's used to taking heat.

"I've been excoriated all over sports radio," he said."

I want to know how one rises to the top of the Scorekeeping Ziggurat. Is there a Society of Baseball Scorers I don't know about? A test? An apprenticeship?

In a moment of Walter Mitty-esque candor I confessed to my son my secret scorekeeping fantasy. Right before the national anthem is sung at the next Kettleer's game by Nickie Chevalier or the Singing Barnstable Policeman, a call goes out over the PA: "Is there a scorekeeper in the house to score today's game?"

And so I slowly rise, brandishing my trusty C.S. Peterson's Scoremaster: Official Baseball and Softball Scorebook, and finally get a seat in the press box.

This will not happen for the simple reason that I have a long long way to go before I can be trusted to properly record a game. For scorekeeping is not a batter of just counting and writing, it's about judgment calls, opinions, subjective decisions that will piss people and players off if done poorly. My scorecards are a record of doubt, second guesses and erasures, committed in crazed handwriting that even I can't decipher. I still don't know how to credit a winning pitcher or how to give a pitcher a save.  Despite my membership in the Society of American Baseball Research, and my ownership of a Strato-matic set, I do not understand WAR or PECODA.

As my friend and ardent Yankee fan T. Grand once replied on Twitter when I tweeted my ignorance of the infield pop fly rule during a Red Sox game : I would have been shot as a Nazi spy in World War II for my un-American ignorance of the fine points of the rules, for the greatest test of red-blooded Americanism is knowing one's baseball rules.

Whatever, I can always hope to improve.

Past posts on scoring:

 

No responses yet

Next »