As I get older and older, I believe less and less in trying new things. I have to fight hard to get out of my comfy-cozy fortress of solitude (like Superman’s fortress only less ice and more big screen TVs).
But once again, I’m going to try something new.
I decided it would be good to volunteer to be a baseball scorekeeper.
See, after hockey ended, the-Youngest decided to try something new, too. So I decided that I hadn’t had enough torture after being the hockey team treasurer and signed up.
I thought I was being all kinds of clever. In my day, it was pretty simple. The pretty red-haired girl would put up the numbers on the board and smile at me. No wonder I took so many balls in the face. Oh sure I was a catcher, but I was also easily distracted by a pretty girl smiling at me. Still am.
But that was it. We scored a run, and the pretty-red-haired-girl would put it up on the scoreboard. The umpires kept track of the strikes and balls and, I think, secretly, how many balls to the face I took. They shouted a lot and told us who was out (and for me to stop shouting ‘swing batter, batter, batter, swing!’.
I assumed it would be the same only with less pretty red-haired girls and more electronics.
My first clue should have been how all the other dads looked at the grass or stared up at imaginary stars and whistled to themselves when the coach asked, who wants to scorekeep?
When no one leapt at the chance, he looked at his clipboard and said a couple of families had volunteered to be scorekeepers. Ours being one of them.
I corrected him on this point. The sign up website would not let you sign up unless you chose some sort of volunteer work, the sneaky bastards. So, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world chose score-keeping. I suspect for the same reason I did (minus the red-head).
But that being said, I’d give it a whirl. How hard could it be?
F…ing hard as it turns out.
Apparently little league is now like the majors. It’s up to the scorekeepers to record EVERYTHING.
I went to the meeting where they said they’d teach you all you needed to know about score-keeping. It reminded me of a test I took in Business school, where I didn’t understand a flipping thing and got 12% in the test. It was my first failing mark ever and it traumatized me forever.
So when they began to explain how to record a hit, then an error, then a pitcher’s ball, which I think is a kind of error, and a forced play, which I had no idea what the hell that is, and a double play with a sacrifice fly, my hands began to shake, my eye twitched and I broke out in a full body sweat.
See, I’m not a big baseball fan and the few games I’ve been to, I’ve spent more time finding where the churro vendor is than figuring out how to properly score the game.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the basics are kind of easy. The pitcher throws the baseball. A strike or a ball. I record that. If the batter hits it, I record that as well. It’s when other stuff starts to happen or things that only people with heads full of baseball knowledge understand start to occur, that I get all confused.
Basically, it’s when a whole ton of things happen at once. It’s that hit that gets dropped, then someone throws to second who misses the ball and the runner heading to third decides to go home while the pitcher rushes to get the missed ball and somebody in the stands is shouting, throw to 3rd dammit and in the distance a plane is roaring overhead and my phone is ringing and I need to pee.
How do you record all of that, cuz I’m pretty sure I have to?
As I left the scorekeeping meeting needing a drink, it occurred to me that the reason baseball is akin to watching a glacier melt is because the scorekeeping could take forever. At least with all the erasing I’ll have to do.
If you doubt how confusing score-keeping can be, look at that sheet. It’s now important to know errors. What’s an error in little league? From what I saw at the meet-and-greet game, pretty much every play has one error or another. Many plays seem to have about 20. With one hit.
Then there’s all the odd stuff that can happen, like a forced play on a Tuesday when there’s a full moon and a left handed batter with a hunchback. I think there’s some sort of code for all of that. And I have to record it.
And here I thought being the treasurer was a bit on the challenging side. It doesn’t even come close. I came home from the meeting completely disheartened. This will be absolutely at my limit of my well-padded comfort zone. Like telling someone to take over flying a helicopter while the pilot jumps out the door.
I can just imagine the first game.
“So,” says the other team’s scorekeeper, “I score that inning 14-4 with 17 unforced errors, and three fielder’s choice outs, two forced plays and one wiggle-dee-diggle-dee-do. What did you get?”
“A migraine.” My score sheet says 1 hit, 3 balls, and scribblings about a pizza order.
I pray it won’t be as bad as I fear, but looking at that sheet, not knowing all the codes and having to see everything and understand baseball like someone who, you know understands baseball, may be a disaster in the making.