You Can’t Make It Up, Really. It’s Against The RULES.


Here’s another question from the mailbag:

Q: Is the Official Scorer in Detroit making up his own rules? (YankeeBob – Woodhaven, NY)

A: Let me check YB. According to my brand new edition of the Official Baseball Rules that I just got in the mail (sporting 2008 WS action on the front cover):

Rule 10.01(b)(1): In all cases, the official scorer shall not make a scoring decision that is in conflict with Rule 10 or any other Official Baseball Rule. The official scorer shall conform strictly to the rules of scoring set forth in this Rule 10….

Q: OK smart guy, explain to me this play that happened in the Yankees game at the Tigers last week: One out, runners on second and third. Jorge Posada hits a fly ball to left field. The left fielder doesn’t make the catch and the ball bounces by him. Both runners score and Posada ends up on second on the play. The Official Scorer ruled: Sac fly, error 7, one RBI. Well, SmartGuyDave?

A: YB, everything is correct as you described. Simply put, a sacrifice – fly or hit – can be awarded to a batter on a play that does not record an out. The dropped sacrifice fly is specifically discussed on page 106 of the brand new edition of the rulebook.

Rule 10.08(d)(2): The official scorer shall score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer’s judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly been caught.

In the scorer’s judgment, the fly ball should have been caught by the left fielder, AND he/she also judged that it was hit far enough that if the runner tagged up on a caught ball he would have scored. In the play described above, Posada is credited with an RBI, because he hit a ball far enough into the outfield to score a runner from third.

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”E7F + SF RBI” (if batter scores, UE)
Runner at second – ”++″ (unknown yet if UE)
Runner at third – “+” (run is earned)

It’s a simple game. Really.

By the way, a small “shout-out” to my pal, YankeeBob:
Back in the days when it wasn’t COOL to be a Yankee Fan (1982-1995), YB lived far, far away from the city so nice they named it twice. Before there was the internet, satellite TV, and all the things we take for granted today, YB would call local “establishments” in New York City and ask the bartenders to put the phone receiver next to the TV speakers so he could listen to the game “long distance”. Seriously. He’s got the phone records and check stubs to prove it. In my humble opinion, YankeeBob is a TRUE baseball fan and I’m honored to know him.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.


Swing And A Myth…Outta Here!


It’s time to debunk another baseball myth:

“A batted ball that reaches the outfield grass on the fly
untouched by a fielder is automatically a base hit.”

Although this is generally true, it’s not always true. Let’s pull out our hard copy of the 2008 Edition of the Official Baseball Rules and take a look. Of course, we’ll take a moment to glance at the front cover since it features Washington Nationals catcher and Brooklyn Cyclones alum Jesus Flores (Cyclones Class of 2004). Turning to page 98, we find:

Rule 10.05(a)(4) The official scorer should credit a batter with a base hit when the batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder and that is in fair territory when the ball reaches the outfield, unless in the scorer’s judgment the ball could have been handled with ordinary effort.

Simply put, an Official Scorer must use his/her judgment to decide ordinary effort. It’s a safe bet that if you’ve seen a similar successful catch attempt on a TV “Plays of the Day/Week/Month/Century” show – it’s likely extra-ordinary effort. An official scorer must also consider things like extreme weather conditions (high winds, etc.) and high skies (natural or man made). If a center fielder loses a ball in the sun/lights/roof, it’s generally a base hit. If a center fielder calls another outfielder off from making a routine catch and then loses the ball – it’s probably going to result in an error, even though the ball dropped untouched. If a fielder has to dive to make the attempt – the ball is likely a hit. ”Cans of corn” and other balls that should be caught “100 times out of 100 chances” – are likely going to be an error. Notice that who the batter or fielder are, and/or what team they play for is not a part of the decision making process. Never. Ever. Nor do you weigh in potential earned/unearned runs. You can’t please everybody all the time, so concern yourself with scoring the play correctly.

Here’s another situation:
Let’s not forget about the circumstance when a base runner is forced out on a ball that would normally be a hit. This is a byproduct of the defensive “overshifts” managers now implement for certain batters. When infielders overload one side of the field, one fielder usually moves to a position on the outfield grass in order to turn a sure hit into an unusual out.

For example:
Jason Giambi comes to bat with a runner on first. The entire infield shifts to the right side of second base, and Giambi hits a line drive into right field – directly in front of where the second baseman is positioned. The second baseman fields the ball on the bounce and flips to the third baseman, who is covering second.

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”FC”
Runner at first – ”45″

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.

We NEED Umpires!


It’s time to reach into the “mailbag” for our first inquiry…

Q: OK smart guy, what would you do with that play in the second inning of last Sunday’s Dbacks/Dodgers game? (Brian – New Rochelle, NY)

A: Simply put, an Official Scorer’s primary job is to pay attention. This particular play required a little more attention than most plays, but it just proves that “it aint’ over until it’s over”.

Let’s reset the situation as it occured on April 12, 2009:
With one out, the Dodgers have runners on second and third when the batter hits a line drive that is caught on the fly by the pitcher. The pitcher wheels around and throws to the second baseman, who tags the runner a few steps away from the bag for the inning-ending double play.

The runner on third was running on contact, and crossed the plate before the runner on second was tagged out. The Diamondbacks left the field, apparently thinking the run doesn’t count and the inning is over.

The umpires huddle up, then meet with both managers and correctly inform them that the run did count.

Crew Chief Charlie Reliford later told the media, “They could have gotten the fourth out with an appeal at third base, but they didn’t do that before leaving the field.”

First off, let’s remember who we are:

Rule 10.01(b)(1) “…The official scorer shall not make any decision that conflicts with an umpire’s decision…”

So once the umpire’s huddle begins, we simply wait for them to do their thing. I’m fairly certain that at least one member of a Major League Baseball umpire crew knows Rule 7.10(a) – they don’t need and won’t ask for our input. So back to the play…

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”L14 DP RBI”
Runner at second – ”X″
Runner at third – “+”

But what if the appeal been made correctly?

Rule 10.09(a)(2) Comment: The official scorer shall credit a fielder with a putout if such fielder catches a thrown ball and tags a base to record an out on an appeal play.

So let’s alter the play as follows:

The runner on third was running on contact, and crossed the plate before the runner on second was tagged out. The catcher throws to the third baseman, and the umpire rules the base runner out on appeal.

Stat Crew Nation – we have a problem. If one tries to enter…
Batter – “L14 DP”
Runner at second – “X”
Runner at third – “5″

…a ”too many outs” error occurs. Consulting the help screen (F1) informs us that the only occasion to have more than three outs in our stat crew inning must involve a strikeout. If appears to me that the only option would be to ignore the appeal putout to 5. Life is not perfect.

Meanwhile, as the Official Scorer we simply record the fourth out – a putout for the third baseman. A reminder that the rules do not provide for assists on appeal plays.

It’s plays like these that make “proving” a boxscore an important task:

  • When the OS in Arizona proved his box after the game, I’m sure it added up.
  • Had the appeal been made, the box would have had one more out for the Diamondbacks and one less run for the Dodgers, and the box would have added up.
  • If the second baseman would have simply touched second base instead of chasing the runner down – which gave the runner on third the chance to score – the box would have one more left on base and one less run for the Dodgers, and the box would have added up.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.

You CAN Assume A Double Play. Or can you?


Let’s start this blog off right by debunking a baseball scoring myth:

“You can’t assume a double play”

First of all, this “commandment” does not appear anywhere in the Official Baseball Rules. Perhaps it was written on one of the tablets that Moses dropped on his way down the mountain (for more information, please view History of the World – Part I).

It is correct that Rule 10.12(d)(3) specifically directs a scorer not to charge an error to “…any fielder who makes a wild throw in attempting to complete a double play or triple play…” unless of course the throw results in the runner(s) advancing additional base(s).

It is also correct that the rules require a scorer to charge an error based on a scenario involving a potential double or triple play. Please turn to page 111 in your hymnals, and follow along silently while I type aloud:

Rule 10.12(d) Comment: When a fielder mufffs a thrown ball that, if held, would have completed a double play or triple play, the official scorer shall charge an error to the fielder who drops the ball and credit an assist to the fielder who made the throw.

Here’s an example:
Runner at first, batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman who flips to the shortstop for the force at second. The shortstop throws to first where the first baseman drops a perfect throw, allowing the batter to reach safely. As a scorer, you know this – because your friendly neighborhood umpire signals ”safe” and points to the first baseman, telling you that if he had held the ball the runner would have been out.

Please make a mental note to deduct style points if said umpire inadvertently pumped his fist for the “out” before he quickly altered his dance move to the “safe” call.

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”E3M A6 GDP”
Runner at first – ”46″

And yes, if any preceding base runners score on the play, the batter does NOT get credit for Runs Batted In. Turn to pages 8-9 of the “Book of Shannon” for a funny story regarding this exact play. I’ve scored this play a few times, including at an OS assignment last year at Shea Stadium.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.