Modern wrinkles to traditional scorekeeping

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ST. LOUIS — Baseball’s expanded use of replay and the increasing (exponentially) use of defensive shifts have had ripple effects on the game’s offense, the game’s officiating, and, yes, even the game’s scorebook shorthand. In a blog today at StlToday.com, I made some suggestions for how to score shifts and what notation can be used for replays, whether they’re overturned or not.

Goold: Modern challenges to traditional scorekeeping.

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Writing Shad’s Tale

Image“SHAD’S TALE” — Page 1

WASHINGTON — As I plunged into Cardinals history for a book several years ago, one of the minor stories that always felt like it had major possibilities was the legend spun by pitcher Flint Rhem. A righty with the Cardinals, Rhem went missing for several days in September 1930 while the team was in New York, set to play a key series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He returned to the team with this fantastic tale of kidnapping, thugs, and forced binging. It was all fiction, of course. Longtime Post-Dispatch columnist and Cardinals chronicler Bob Broeg wrote that Rhem had all the talent in the world but would drink himself out of the game. He certainly drank himself into this story. Still, it was fertile ground for writing. The gaps in memories are always fun to fill, and here were two days — two whole days — carved out of Cardinals history that were blank. What did Rhem do during his “kidnapping”? What could have Rhem done during his “kidnapping”? Maybe he really was ambushed by thugs and forced to chug grain alcohol for two days. Maybe there was a gambling element, because isn’t there always? Maybe he raced around New York saving cats from trees, apprehending robbers, and doing so much good that no one would believe him anyway. Or, as I thought when the opportunity to came to write this story, maybe he saved baseball.

Many months ago, I was asking at the comic shop about a local St. Louis group, Ink and Drink Comics, and the anthologies they had produced in recent years — sci-fi, romance, horror, wild west. A lapsed cartoonist with a comic sweet tooth, I always wanted to try my hand at writing a comic book story. It would be a Continue reading

The Last Day of a 5-Year-Old

TOWER GROVE – The day began like any other morning during those months that baseball season overlaps with the school year. I’m up with the boy wonder, flip on the TV, and wait for the inevitable request that comes during the commercials.

“Can we turn on my cartoons?”

“Can we turn on my cartoons?”

“Is Morning Joe over? Can we turn on my cartoons?”

“Baseball highlights, again? When can we turn on my cartoons?”

On this particularly morning, I had a co-conspirator. Rain was falling outside and steadily gaining intensity. While I kept the news on, Ian climbed up – half on the couch, half on my shoulder – to look out the window and provide moment-by-moment weather update. His legs, lanky and lean, draped off the couch, because while he still tries to squeeze into small spaces like a small kid, he is outgrowing them rapidly, like another pair of footie jammies. And that’s when I realized: This was not a normal, standard-issue morning of wrestling for channel superiority.

This was my last morning as the father of a 5-year-old.

“Don’t you want me to get older, Daddy?” Continue reading

“Meet Me in Dyersville”

This entry was written on Father’s Day 2011 at Busch Stadium while the Cardinals played the Kansas City Royals.

ST. LOUIS – My plan was to spend the entire summer of 1994 establishing residency in Missouri and take full advantage of living in a college town without, you know, having to attend those pesky classes that interrupt college.

I spent my mornings teaching swim lessons, my days working as a pool manager (read: lifeguard, but with better pay), and my nights sharing a house with a couple pals from the student newspaper, The Maneater. There wasn’t much sleep that summer, nor much money, but there was always something happening. My parents expected me to leave that for … Ten thousand lakes, the Mall of America, and free-range mosquitoes? They had moved from Colorado to Minnesota, officially, the previous summer and few conversations passed that year without a question about when I planned to drive up to Rochester, Minn., for a visit. I’d blame my work schedule, I’d waffle, I’d ignore their invites. It was their home, not mine. I had no emotional ties to the place, no friends to see when I got there and, selfishly, no reason to go back once I drove away for college.

If I had to visit, I suggested a neutral site. We’d meet at the midpoint.

There was this baseball field, in Iowa, Continue reading

The Wisdom of the Wizard

JUPITER, Fla. — For the first time in 16 years, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith returned to the fields of Roger Dean Stadium in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, and it took him less than four hours and all of seven words to capture what keeps so many of us coming back year after year after year to spring training and the game that captivates us.

He took a deep sniff and told a few of us, “It is nice breathing good baseball air.”

(56/366)

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That Tender Spot Behind the Knee

JUPITER, Fla. — We are all familiar with that stereotypical picture of a lifeguard, what with the rakish spin of his whistle and that universally accepted symbol of smart, outdoor health — the white stripe of sunscreen on his nose. It’s not a fashion statement. It’s there because it’s needed. Through many years as a lifeguard I’ve peeled off more noses than I care to admit, and I’ve got the freckles seven layers deep to prove that I should have been more vigilant with my white stripe. I imagine that every profession or pursuit that puts in the line of (sun) fire has that same soft spot that the rays find and punish. When I coached swimming, we were constantly reminded to put a swipe of sunscreen on top of our ears where our sunglasses rest. That’s where coaches are vulnerable, we were told, and skin cancer can nest. Snorkeling can leave your back exposed to the sun’s raw brutality as I learned last month in Curacao. Construction workers have to be wary of their necks. Golfers have to be mindful of their foreheads. Skiers have to remember the sun can ricochet off the glistening snow to double-blast their cheeks and even when you can’t see the sun its rays can still seer you. Drivers have to take special care of that left elbow, poking out into the sun as it does while they’re cheerfully rocking out to AC/DC on a road trip. (I’m thinking Emilio Estevez in Maximum Overdrive.) And baseball writers must always remember the Continue reading

“There Will Be No Baseballs in the White House”

WASHINGTON — The official invitation instructed us to meet at the White House’s Southeast Gate at 2:15 local time, and from across the street it was clear we were going in the right direction.

A line of people had already formed, and their plumage gave them away as Cardinals fans.

Many were wearing Cardinals caps. A few had “World Series championship” hats on or headgear with some other variation of the team’s logo. Some of the ties that looked simply Cardinal red from a block away proved instead to be dotted with small baseballs, subtle Cardinals logos or not-too-subtle interlocking STLs as Post-Dispatch Washington reporter Bill Lambrecht and I got closer and took our spots in line. With the exception of a few kids who clutched their baseballs tightly, it was hard then to tell how many in line had a baseball tucked into a pocket somewhere in hopes of getting it signed. They wouldn’t keep that secret for long. The Secret Service was on the lookout for baseballs.

“There will be no baseballs in the White House,” an agent tells us as we approach the first of two or three security screenings (it was hard to tell when one ended and another began). “Sorry folks. No baseballs.” Continue reading