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.
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.