June 9, 2005

Keeping Score

In today's Globe, Bob Ryan makes a nice point about the value of his books of baseball scoresheets.

Going to a baseball game -- any baseball game -- without keeping score is incomprehensible to me. I'm always ready. When baseball season comes, I do not leave town without my cherished BBWAA scorebook. Hey, you never know when a baseball game will break out. That's why when I found myself in Phoenix covering the NBA's Western Conference finals in 1984, I was ready when the University of North Carolina rolled into nearby Tempe to play Arizona State on a convenient off day in the Suns-Lakers series. The Sun Devils beat the Tar Heels, 6-4, before 2,402, but that's not the half of it. I mean, do you have Barry Bonds in any of your scorebooks, batting third and playing left field for Arizona State? Well, I do.

This is another expression of the Tinderbox message: write it down, and look at it.

Baseball, for those of you following along at home in non-baseball lands, lends itself uniquely to a form of notetaking people call 'keeping score' that succinctly records what happens on each play or even each pitch. You can't really do that in football or basketball: too much is going on, the important things are often happening away from the ball, lots of things are happening at once. There's no time to stop and write stuff down. Baseball is easier; the pitcher throws, the batter swings and hits a sharp bouncer to the shortstop. He tosses the ball to second, forcing the runner, and relays to first to record the double play, and all the serious fans nod and write "6-4-3" in their books.

I don't think mere civilians can buy the BBWAA scorebook. I have a homemade scorebook somewhere, but I've never really liked it, and the scorebooks at amazon seem to have uniformly poor reviews from serious fans. Do you have a favorite? Let me know. 

Update: John Stephan recommends the Rawlings/Peterson's scorebook.