Archive for April, 2009

Talking Baseball…Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

April 28, 2009

It’s “rubber chicken” time – better known by most as the spring sports banquet season. AnnouncerGuyDave is not immune to this seasonal change – for whatever reason there are some that find my banter entertaining and/or amusing. Perhaps my invitation to these events is the result of a priestly confessional directive. I don’t know, but I consider each and every one, “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”. Thanks – and keep the invitations coming!

Speaking about the subject-at-hand is the easy part for me, whatever the scheduled banquet topic is. Public speaking and the ability to wax poetic are genetic attributes that have thankfully been passed down to me by my forefathers and fore-mothers. The part of the night that I “earn” is the scoring banter that occurs table-side before/during/after my work on the mic. You know, “…blah blah blah, let me ask you a scoring question smart guy…” It doesn’t matter what the question is or who asks – I consider the exercise to be an acceptable occupational hazard. After all, we’re talking baseball…WOO HOO! The problem is that I haven’t mastered how one looks good answering these unanswerable questions.

For example, here’s a recent discussion I had:
Q: “Yo buddy, I was at this game once and the batter hit a ball down the third base line. The batter appeared to hit the ball off of his foot, but none of the umpires signalled the ball foul. How would you score that play?

A: Hmmmmmmmm. At this very moment, there is no right answer – I simply do not have enough information.

By the way, if I were an umpire, the question would be phrased the exact same way – except that instead of “Yo Buddy”, the question would have started with “Yo Blue”.

As a point of reference, I have never, EVER met a real umpire that appreciates being called “Blue”. To put this in perspective, ask your spouse if she’s “really wearing that” when you take her out for your next anniversary. Her disdain is about one-third of an umpire’s when you call him/her “blue”. Really. Just ask them.

OK, so now I ask the question: “What happened next?”

Instead of getting an answer, I get “how” the inquistitor would have scored the play…

“5-fielder’s choice-unassisted”.

Now I have to ask: “Were there runners on base?”

Answer: “No.”

Next question (thank god I watched “Perry Mason” as a child):
“Did the third baseman run home with the ball and tag the batter?”

Answer: “Of course not, he threw to the catcher, silly! I thought you knew baseball…”

See – one can never win these discussions.

Final question:
“What did the umpire do when the catcher tagged the batter with the ball the third baseman threw to him?”

Answer?

The umpire signalled it was a foul ball.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag. Until next time – Peace.

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Sitting in the "big chair" prior to an OS assignment<BR>at Yankee Stadium

Sitting in the "big chair" prior to an OS assignment at Yankee Stadium

My personal scoring knowledge is the sum of three sources:

1) Official Baseball Rules, published by Major League Baseball.

2) Official Scoring in the Big Leagues, written by Bill Shannon (2006). I had the distinct and unique privilege of being one of the “crash test dummies” for its content, as Mr. Shannon painstakingly committed his oral pedagogy to paper, which turned out to be this book. I often respectfully refer to this publication as “The Book of Shannon“. Unlike the other attempts available in published form, the author of this publication is arguably the best Official Scorer in the major leagues.  I personally value the time over the years that I have observed him at work as well as the time spent listening as he held court on many occasion.

3) My life experience of watching “many” major league, minor league, and college baseball games live and in person – getting the opportunity to be the Official Scorer for a lot of them. In my opinion, functioning as a competent Official Scorer requires a thorough knowledge of the Official Baseball Rules, as well as the secondary ability to be able to find anything in the rulebook quickly that one has not committed to memory. Functioning as a successful Official Scorer requires a competent evaluation of  the level of “ordinary effort” of the players competing in that particular game, as well as the ability to make correct decisions without “committee” input. While the world we live in today is all about “consensus”, baseball official scoring is NOT. Red Foley, one of the best Official Scorers of the twentieth century said it best, “We don’t make popular calls, we make correct calls”.