A couple of words on keeping score at the ballgame


I’m probably the worst scorekeeper in the world. I try to do it from time to time — used to do it a lot more — but I just don’t bother much anymore. Maybe it’s because I don’t do attention to detail very well. Maybe I’m just lazy. Maybe I just go to relatively few baseball games for a man with my job and when I’m there I just prefer to soak it in.  I don’t know. I told this story last spring during my spring training trip to Florida, but I’ll tell it again because it’s good:

I was in the Red Sox press box in Fort Myers during a game against the Rays.  I’m sitting next to Boston radio fixture Jonny Miller.  Miller and I are actually hitting it off pretty good.  He’s telling me war stories. He knows I’m a newbie so he’s giving me pointers about life in the box.  Nice afternoon!

Now, Miller keeps meticulous score during the game. He doesn’t miss a play. Around the bottom of the third inning the Red Sox PR guy comes by and tells Miller that that day’s pitcher, Jon Lester, is available for interviews. Miller turns to me and says — doesn’t really ask, just says — “you make sure to keep score for me while I’m gone.”  I hadn’t been keeping score, but I nodded and said I would.

I start in, utilizing my sloppy, inconsistent system, in smeary pen on the paper score sheet they hand out in the press room.  Miller is gone a long time. Two thirds of the Red Sox half of the third and the entire Rays half of the fourth, during which they sent ten guys to the plate. My score sheet is a complete disaster at this point and there’s no way Miller’s going to be able to follow it.  I can read it, however, so I figure that I’ll just read it back to him when he returns.

Miller comes back and says “hand me your score sheet.”  I tell him it’s hard to read. He either doesn’t hear this or doesn’t care and just repeats “hand me your score sheet.”  I give it to him and nod my head in shame. He starts writing, then stops. Then he just kind of looks at me with an expression that seems to say “kid, you got problems.” He hands it back to me and says, wearily, “just tell me who got the RBIs.”  I only knew this guy for about three hours at this point, but I felt like I was disappointing my father or something.

In light of that painful memory, I was really happy to see this Kickstarter fundraiser for an elegant and simplified little score book that some folks are trying to get off the ground.  This isn’t a paid ad or anything — and I don’t know the people making it — but it was brought to my attention this afternoon, I watched the little video and read the rundown and I rather like it.  Maybe hardcore guys and the Jonny Millers of the world would make fun of me if I had one, but I think I’d enjoy keeping score with it. It’s simple and small and I don’t care.  Check it out. I think more people would keep score if it were available.  And don’t be bothered by the fact that the narrator of the video has a voice that sounds EXACTLY like a girl I dated back in West Virginia when I was in the 11th grade because, nope, that didn’t bother me one bit, no sir!

And if the simplified scorebook is not your speed — if you’re a pro — here’s a fun blog post from Mike Curto, who announces Tacoma Rainers games, holding forth on his scorebook of choice.  It’s serious business.  Maybe I’d get into that one day. When I grow up.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.