Things started to crank in gear and get exciting a couple of weeks back when I traveled to Vegas for the NFBC first weekend. From there it was off to NYC for Tout, then home and a couple of days later Diane flew out to spend Passover with me. For that holiday I go to my friends Mark and Debbie Berenberg, a tradition that now dates back almost 35 years.
Of course in the throes of all this the baseball season begins, and in the bay area the Giants and Athletics usually wind up the spring season by playing a handful of games back home. So, Thursday night I got to score the match-up between the two local teams to get in scoring practice for the actual season when along with my mates we will cover all the games of the local teams, counting pitches and double switches and strikeouts and so on.
Well, there are two times of the year when it is really difficult to score. One is during September when there is roster expansion and players pop in and out. But, that is nothing compared to the spring when literally anyone can show up and play anywhere, any time.
Ideally the forty-man roster to check against, but, there is no official scorer for the game, and tracking of who goes in where is not so careful, at least on behalf of the ballclubs.
Since I was scoring the game, and MLB.com and the statistics base actually keep an eye on the stats, I had to try and get it as right as rain, however. Truth is, I was having a pretty good game, cruising along until the seventh inning when suddenly the wheels came off.
The Giants made five roster moves when they took the field, but no one from the Giants media side was clear who was going into which spot in the batting order. I made the substitutions as best as I could, and started scoring, catching up marking in the balls and strikes and outs until and thought I was ok till the bottom of the inning when it was discovered that Jeremy Affeldt was actually batting fifth, not first, and that leadoff was actually now Travis Ishikawa and that he was not batting fourth. Don't as about Ryan Rohlinger or even Eugenio Velez, whom no one save the Athletics brain trust noticed went in. And, forget about anyone announcing in the booth who was playing or batting in what spot.
Suddenly, it was the bottom of the eighth of a game that, due to a 23-MPH wind had all of us freezing and wishing the game was moving at a faster pace, and I had become so woefully behind that I lost track of the pitches of every kind. During the official season, should I get in such a bind, I always have a back-up to take over remotely watching the game on the tube. Although such a meltdown is rare, and generally reserved for computer and network malfunctions at the home park. Still, we stay put and report changes and anything we see to the back up.
But, no such luxury in pre-season, and as the game rocketed to an end while I was furiously trying to figure things out with my support bud, Hank Widmar, we both found ourselves cursing the pre-season and rosters and being grateful that there is no such volatility once the games begin in earnest.
Truth is I stayed behind for a good forty minutes after the game, translating the box and plays from David Feldman who was tracking for the Athletics, reading the plays, pitch-by-pitch, to Hank as he updated the boxes and caught up where the craziness had begun.
I remember the first time I scored a game I came home and Cathy asked me if it was hard. "The most difficult multi-tasking I have ever done" I replied, noting it was much harder than playing guitar and singing. That is because with one hand I am entering code, and with another manually writing the score, while watching the field the whole time to make sure I see everything.
I think I have even gotten pretty good at the scoring, paying attention in a focused way, learning even more deeply the subtleties and nuances of the game and its rules.
But, well, there is no way to prep for players going in without warning or tracking, let alone the meltdown that occurs post holocaust.
Thank goodness by Sunday all this madness will be completed and we can move forward with boxes and games, in earnest!