The Scorekeeper

I keep score at baseball games, on paper. Yes I know they have scoreboards now.

MLLB: The Hidden Ball Trick

Major Little League Baseball, Installment 2: David Wright makes Cameron Maybin look like a Little Leaguer with a fake throw to first:

I can’t help it, but I always feel bad for the baserunner in these situations.


I live in the Seattle area.  Our local baseball team is not very good.  They lost 17 straight in July, are currently 50-66, and they score runs the way a toddler writes his alphabet — slowly, with lots of mistakes. 

This combines to make watching a Mariners game on TV nearly impossible.  But it gets worse.  Dave Sims is the current Mariners TV play-by-play guy.  He seems like a nice guy, someone who might be fun to go to a ballgame with, but not if you are there to actually watch the game, but just drink a few beers and chat.  

He is incapable of just describing the action on the field.  Watch this replay of an exciting wild pitch on intentional walk that scores Dustin Ackley and you tell me what Dave Sims (the second voice you’ll hear, the first is former Mariner Mike Blowers) provides to the viewer:

You can also listen to Sims not describe the infamous infield triple linked here. In both cases he replaces calling the action with mistaken references to similar plays from other games.

Look, judging from the number of house ads for Root Sports that adorn the Mariners telecasts, it is a small band of people who watch and care about these broadcasts.  But we would like to see some effort to make them watchable.

R.A. Dickey is now on Twitter


We are big fans here at The Scorekeeper.

Phils-Giants, August 5
The best view of the game - upper deck, behind home plate

Familiarity Breeds OPS

In a discussion on his site about Mariano Rivera’s recent troubles, Bill James noted that Mariano benefits from most hitters only facing him once or twice a season, thus making it hard for them to learn to deal with his cut fastball.  I wondered whether this theory would be supported by evidence, so went to my Retrosheet-powered play by play database (for years 2005-2010) to determine the OPS (on-base plus slugging) for all batters who faced Rivera the first time that year, all who faced him the second time, etc.  I then compared that to the same conditions for all closers in 2010.  Here’s the result:

It does seem like the more a batter sees Rivera, the better he does, and that those who see Rivera only one or two times a year have difficulties against him.

MLLB: Major Little League Baseball

The first in a continuing series on this blog, in honor of the upcoming Little League World Series. 

One of the great things about baseball is that the game can be so hard that even the best look like amateurs sometimes.  Case in point, this video of Brendan Ryan getting an infield triple because the Oakland A’s infielders collectively forget that their primary job is to cover the bases:

(Courtesy American McCarver)

Insurmountability Quantified


Errata: Quite a few Giants fans wrote in to point out that at the time of the stolen base the Phillies were up 8-2, not 6-2 as I wrote. I apologize for the mistake. We had a lot of runs to keep track of. I still maintain that an 8-2 lead with four innings to play isn’t insurmountable. At least…

So was the Phils-Giants game last Friday “over” when Jimmy Rollins stole second in the sixth inning with the Phils up 8-2?  Thanks to the miracle of math, the Internet, WPA and Fangraphs, we can throw some hard numbers into the heated debate.

According to Fangraphs, before Rollins stole second the Phils had a 97.9% chance of winning the game.  After, it went up to 98.0%.  The accountants among us can assess the materiality of the event.

Back in the land of anecdote, I note that I attended that game in person, and didn’t even remember Rollins’ stolen base until reading the blogs two days later.  I just thought the Giants were pissed that John Mayberry, Jr. totally rocked Jonathan Sanchez when he was one strike away from escaping the fourth inning intact.

(Source: americanmccarver)

Quite Possibly the Coolest Thing Ever

Over at Ultimate Mets they have a feature that recreates a scorecard for any game, with a choice of handwriting fonts. Below, for example, is the scorecard from my first visit to Shea Stadium.

I can’t begin to describe how excited I am about this.

H/T: American McCarver

Mariners-Padres, a rivalry like none other.

R.A. Dickey the Orcslayer

R.A. Dickey once took the time to have a nice conversation with my son while he was warming up in the Mariners bullpen.  Now I learn he names his bats after swords in The Hobbit.  How I wish he had a Twitter feed.

Update:  He does now.

HT:  The fine folks at Chitwood and Hobbs