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On Thursday, during our all-day, Opening Day chat marathon, I made a casual observation about Prince Fielder bobbling a ball at first-base and tossing it to the pitcher for the out rather than running to the bag himself:

Larry Granillo: That was interesting from Prince. Bobbled the ball on the grounder to him and decided to lob it to Verlander instead of taking it himself. I've written "UA3" in my scorebook so many times from Prince doing the opposite…

That brief scorekeeping note set off a bit of a discussion:

Kevin Goldstein: UA3? I propose a completely meaningless keeping score argument with Larry. It's clearly 3U in the books.
Jay Jaffe: 3U for sure. Larry's working overtime like a sucker.
Dan Turkenkopf: I'm with Kevin here.
Larry Granillo: 3U in your books, Kevin. I'm perfectly happy with my own markings.
Larry Granillo: You probably write F-7 for flyouts to left, huh? I much prefer that to mean foul-out to left.
Comment From justarobert: 3/G3L for me, when I'm trying to emulate Retrosheet.
Kevin Goldstein: Dammit Larry! That's what lower case is for! F7 = flyball to left. f7 flyball to left in foul territory.
Colin Wyers: justarobert is correct, the rest of you are wrong.
Jay Jaffe: 7 or 7f for me on those two options.
Larry Granillo: Man, I would hate to see "f7" and "F7" in my books. That's grating.
Dan Turkenkopf: 7 for the fly out, F7 for the foul out, L7 for a line out
Jay Jaffe: True fact: the first game I ever scored was 1978 World Series game 2, when Bob Welch struck out Reggie Jackson to close the game out.
Jason Wojciechowski: You distinguish between fly balls and line drives, Dan? Isn't that a fireable offense around here?
Dan Turkenkopf: I don't run metrics on them.
Larry Granillo: You can blame my older brother for my scorekeeping choices. He taught me when I was like 7 and he was 12. Just can't change that.

The conversation continued on a bit from there, but that was the gist of it. Clearly, my standard notation of "UA-3" for an unassisted groundout to the first-baseman is anything but standard. And that's quite alright with me. As I said in the chat, my scorekeeping method was developed sometime around age eight from tips taught to me by my older brother. Some habits you can't break and, really, I don't want to. I like the way I keep score – it makes sense to me and it describes a large percentage of the game.

In fact, I like it so much that I thought it might be fun to take a look at a random game from my scorebook. I was at the Cardinals/Brewers game at Miller Park on Sunday (where the Brewers lost 9-3) and, as always, I kept score. I present to you now the scorecard that I kept while at this game (along with some comments). It's not the prettiest nor the cleanest and my handwriting is definitely not the best, but the card is representative of the way I keep score and does manage to include a few non-standard plays.



Click the image to enlarge.


 


Click the image to enlarge.

Many of my markings are familiar. The back-to-back groundouts to short in the top of the first for the Cardinals, for example, are marked as "6-3". The many strikeouts on either team (seriously, the Brewers struck out 13 times and the Cards 12) are scored with the standard "K" and "(backward K)". The numbers next to the "K's" count how many strikeouts in the game up to that point, though this is something that I don't always do. When a player reaches base, like Matt Holliday in the top of the first or Tyler Greene in the top of the third, his method of reaching is indicated (I prefer using "2B" or "HR" rather than some of the more cryptic methods I've seen). When Ryan Braun was picked off by Lance Lynn in the bottom of the first, I marked it "PO 1-3" and ended the inning there.

The differences are more numerous. Not only is there the "UA-3" marking rather than Kevin's favored "3U" (Tony Plush's groundout in the bottom of the seventh), I also mark my flyouts differently. A flyout to the outfield, like Braun's two 400-foot outs in the fourth and seventh innings, is marked as "O-8" or "O-7" instead of "F-8" or "F-7". I can't explain why that was the descriptor I was taught, but it makes sense to me. After all, the flyout is the most generic out there is in baseball. Besides, foul-outs deserve the "F-3" or "F-7" tag much more than a towering pop-up to center (see Alex Gonzalez's third-inning at-bat). Lineouts are marked as, say, "LO-6", but I'm not always consistent with that. I tend to mark them more when the line-drives are more obvious.

An important aspect of the scorecard to me is tracking what happens to a runner once he reaches base. Look at the Cardinals' half of the fifth inning. Matt Holliday leads off with a walk (shown with "BB" on the card), followed by a Carlos Beltran single. Holliday advances to second on the single, so I draw his movement on the diamond and mark it was "3", indicating that Beltran (uniform #3) moved him that far. In the next at-bat, David Freese laces another single through Milwaukee's porous infield. Holliday comes around to score and Beltran moves to second. Both moves are drawn on the diamonds, with Holliday's advancement to home (not third) marked with Freese's #23 and with Beltran's move to second marked the same. This tells me that the Freese single moved Holliday two bases. Freese is also given a single "+" to indicate his one RBI (multiple RBIs are marked with multiple plusses).

The only other notable part of my scorecard is the pinch-hit and relief pitcher markings. I don't know how others keep track of these, but I do it by very explicitly marking "PH #7" or "RP #41" next to the spot in the batting order the change takes place. If multiple pinch-hitters or relief pitchers are used in that spot, it can get a bit ugly. I also like to mark a new defensive player's spot on the scorecard with the slightly rounded lines you see in the Cardinals' eighth inning in the number-7 and number-9 batting spots. These marked the double-switch with Yadier Molina and the pitcher's spot. It helps to easily distinguish which at-bats belong to which batter in that lineup spot.

I think that about covers my idiosyncratic scorekeeping methods. They may not make sense to you and they may seem unnecessary, ugly, or just plain stupid, but you will never convince me to change them. It's too personal of a thing to go meddling with. I don't think I'm alone here.

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ntallyn
4/09
And I thought I was the only one that tracked runner movement by the uniform number of the hitter! Nick
lgranillo
4/09
It's one of the most important things to me - and it's so easy to do. I hate looking at a card that shows someone getting to first and then scoring without any marks as to how he got there. I know you can figure it out from the following batters, but it's not always clear.
LlarryA
4/10
I can elaborate later if you'd like (no time now), but I keep track of this by scoring each lineup spot in a different color (and a 10th color for PHs). Thus when the 3rd batter (light blue) is up, and something changes the status of the leadoff (purple), the leadoff box has some light blue mixed in with the original purple. It's a little awkward having to switch pens every batter, but it becomes really easy to see what happened, and makes for one of the more unusual scoresheets you'll ever see. If you want I'll try to get a picture to you at some point.
BrewersTT
4/10
I do something similar to what you do, but with the number of for the hitter's position, rather than his uniform number. So if the SS moved the runner to second, I'd have a 6 next to that line segment.
bdoolittle
4/09
I used to score games for Stats Inc. and the habit from that I've retained is the marking of baserunners. For instance, take a bases-loaded single to right, with runners on second and third scoring and the one first advancing to second: r3H2H12 Or a wild pitch: WPr23 But I don't code every pitch anymore.
lgranillo
4/09
That's a whole different kind of scorekeeping...
Matthew544
4/09
It's been a while since I've scored a game, but I used to identify the base on unassisted plays. First was A, second was B, third was C, home was D. So an unassisted ground out to first would be “3-A,” a double play in which the shortstop takes it himself was “DP 6-B-3,” etc.
lgranillo
4/09
I hadn't heard of that kind of method before, but I kind of like it. Simple and effective. I'm not sure I've ever seen an unassisted play at a base other than the "natural" base, though. I wonder how I'd mark that. Maybe "UA-4 (first)"?
myshkin
4/09
There have been some odd double and triple plays at unnatural bases, including unassisted putouts by outfielders. I'd have to search to find them, though.
BrewersTT
4/10
How do you mark a tag play when grounder, runner and shortstop all arrive at the same place at the same time, for example?
lgranillo
4/10
Good question. Check out Ryan Braun's first inning at-bat, when he got picked off by the pitcher. I mark a slight advance on the basepath, ending with a perpendicular line between the two bases. That means that the player made an out on the basepaths (or, more accurately, after reaching the one base safely). I couldn't say for sure without it happening in front of me, but my guess is that I would mark the tagged runner with that out-on-the-basepaths notation with a "UA-6" or "6-tag" mark above it (and the relevant FC or whatever for the batter-runner). For DPs, I mark the full DP notation (DP 6-4-3) in the batter's space and use the out-on-the-basepaths notation (and a small "DP") to indicate which runner was out.
BrewersTT
4/10
Cool, I like the partial-basepath notation idea a lot. Thanks.
stydings
4/09
I go with the * next to especially good defensive plays and a little mark on hits to the OF to designate where the ball went.
lgranillo
4/09
Stars and comments are routinely included for me too. I've tried the trajectory lines, but it never caught on with me.
BrewersTT
4/10
I do the star too. I designate where the hits went by entering 17 or 29, for example, rather than 1B or 2B.
CeeAngi
4/09
I'm on the "F7" for Fly-Out bandwagon. I also use "FO7" if it's a Foul Out. In regards to substitutions, I enter their name onto the line, then I put two numbers: the position they've subbed for, and what inning they came into the game. If they came in at the top of the inning, I shade a triangle in the upper right corner. If they came in during the bottom of the inning, I shade a triangle in the lower left corner of the box. (For instance if you someone was substituted for the right fielder in the top of the 3rd, it would say Smith 9/3, with a shaded triangle in the upper right).I put a PH or PR on the line below their name on the scorecard to denote if they were a Pinch Hitter or Pinch Runner.
bdoolittle
4/09
I'll throw in yet another wrinkle: I use "7F" for a fly out to left, "7Ff" for a foul out to left and "2Pb" for a foul bunt out to catcher, among other things. This season, I've thought about starting to use "FL" for a fleener, but haven't remembered to do it in any of the three games I've attended. I underline the player if he makes a notably good defensive play and if on a groundball, the fielder makes a good play and the first baseman a nice pick, I underline them both. I doublescore great plays, but only use that about five times a season. I love keeping score.
lgranillo
4/09
Fleeners? Wow, you really are on another level from me. I do like underlining the various great plays, etc. It's always nice to make those kinds of marks (see my "Ole!" comment on Greene's eighth-inning RBI-single. Thanks, Ramirez!)
lgranillo
4/09
That's a good way to track subs. I think my sub-tracking grew out of scorecards with limited space. It's easier to use the empty space on the card rather than create space on the leftside...
delorean
4/09
I posted a snap of my scorecard once, and KG said I kept score like an old lady or something to that effect. Whatever works.
lgranillo
4/09
"Whatever works." Exactly! Anyone daunted by keeping score because you "don't know how to do it" should keep that in mind. If it works for you, that's all that matters.
lgranillo
4/09
My brother tells me that he never used the O-8 notation I used or the UA-3 notation. Instead, he'd mark flyouts with a circled-number (eg, 8 with a circle around it). I think my 8-year old handwriting adapted this to be O-8 (since O obviously meant "Out", right?). The UA-3 notation? All I can figure is that I got used to marking the descriptor (O, LO, F, etc) before the position player, so I just continued it with "Unassisted". However it evolved, I'm still quite happy with it!
dturkenk
4/09
Nice, hit by a tracer from your own brother.
myshkin
4/09
As the @justarobert mentioned above, I thought a link to Retrosheet's scoring description might come in handy, although I don't adhere strictly to their system. http://www.retrosheet.org/ex-sheet.htm