For those scoring, at home
Last Thursday night, I talked my parents into the good seats at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
This was our Veale family vacation: Single A baseball in Appleton. That shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, I distinctly remember watching future Big League Shin-Soo Choo play in person for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2002.
The surprise was I didn’t have anything in my hands save for popcorn and, on occasion, a beverage.
I’m that one guy in your section at the ballpark scoring the game. I’m not “those of you scoring at home,’ but I’ve thought about it if I could just generate the discipline to do it for an entire season.
I wish I could blame it on work, but I was doing this long before I got to the Daily Mining Gazette. After a pretty solid season slap-hitting my way through the Gwinn Little League at age 12, I found that on my 13-and-14-year-old team, I spent far more innings keeping the book than playing the field. The book was my only consolation from the stark reality that Brandon Veale would not succeed Lou Whitaker at second base at Tiger Stadium.
As it was, there is still a meticulously filled out card in my car of Mets 2, Brewers 0 from a week and a half ago at Miller Park, a game with exactly one scoring play (a two-run homer by the fiercely mediocre Lucas Duda), and the first professional hit by Brewer pitcher Jimmy Nelson. It was three hours you’ve probably already forgotten.
Nobody brings a scorebook to a basketball game that isn’t being asked to do so. No one could score a hockey game if they tried. Too fast.
But if anyone needs Mets 2, Brewers 0 reconstructed in its entirety (even the part where I went to the concessions stand), just meet me at my car.
Vaunted wordsmith Grantland Rice said,
“For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the Game.”
But Thursday, I didn’t score the game. Really, there was no reason – the 2014 Timber Rattlers and Kane County Cougars may not produce a half-dozen Major Leaguers between them. Besides, I ought to spend at least some time making conversation considering my folks were nice enough to let me tag along.
I missed it, though. I think it’s a vaguely literary thing. I’ve always believed baseball is something of an art form. Watching it with a scorecard makes it feel like prose, and watching it without makes it feel a little bit too much like poetry for this scribe to feel comfortable about.
I’ve always feared that I’m deficient in the classics: I’ve not seen all of the Star Wars trilogy, my niece is named Harper Lee but I’ve never read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I only recently started seriously considering the works of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
But I do know the 2006 best-seller Tigers 6, A’s 3, the 1986 classic Mets 6, Red Sox 5 (10) or Tuesday’s comedy Rangers 16, White Sox 0 starring Adam Dunn, relief pitcher.
The only way it would have been sillier is if Dunn had dressed in drag.
After all, some of the most celebrated moments in baseball history are mistakes: Fred Merkle forgetting to touch second base more than 100 years ago, Bill Buckner unable to field that “little roller up along first BEHIND THE BAG!”
The home team was out-hit 8-5, committed four errors and won 7-3. That’s baseball for you. Sometimes the script is formatted rather unusually. I wish I’d written that down.
Brandon Veale can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.