When it comes to scoring in the MLB it can be very confusing especially to someone new to the sport. If there is anything, I am so confident in knowing, is how to score a baseball game. This isn’t something that I googled to understand, I learned how the art of scoring back when I was 9 years old which I hate to admit was almost 30 years ago. As a kid, my dad worked nights and my mom worked days and with day baseball being a Cubs thing, and my favorite cartoons being on WGN, they were preempted for the Cubs. We also did not have cable. During the summer I watched just about every Cubs game. I was also fortunate enough to receive the superstation TBS, which carried Braves games and a station out of New York that carried the Mets. Oddly I couldn’t tell you which channel the White Sox were on as I never watched them.
Watching game after game after game and reading the newspaper and the one score card from my first Cubs game, I learned to keep score for baseball. I made my dad make hundreds of copies of my one score card and from there on I kept score of every game I watched. To be honest, I wish I still had these packed away in a box in my parents basement. I literally kept score of every game including the entire World Series starting with the Battle in the Bay, the Oakland Athletics vs the San Francisco Giamts combining with the Braves domination in the 90’s. It was so important and fun to me I even recorded the games on VHS, when I knew I would miss a game because I had a baseball game.
This to me is an art as not everyone understands the rules of scoring and I would say my level is close to expert, as I would be an expert if I worked for Major League Baseball. So needless to say it really irritates me when the “Pros” get the call wrong, like in the Cubs/Mariners game on Sunday, July 31st. Jon Lester place a perfect bunt that went back to the pitcher but was just out of reach causing the pitcher to scoop it up with his glove and for the toss home with Jason Heyward scoring in walk-off fashion. With today’s replay reviews, Lester had to run it out and reach first base which he did.
Another instance takes us back to June 6, 2016 with the Cubs in Philadelphia. In the fifth inning Matt Szczur would pinch hit for Jorge Soler, laying down a bunt in almost the same exact fashion as Lester on July 31st that scores Kris Bryant. There is no play on Szczur and he reaches first base without a challenge. When I heard the Cubs broadcast team give the official scoring of the play, I fell out of my seat and immediately tweeted them.
But of course, I did not receive a tweet back, either telling me I’m right or even wrong. I think what really gets me, these are the pros. I can’t be mad at them because well if you click the links above to both games where the non sacrifice happened, the official scorer got it wrong and did not correct it. Now of course you’re saying, is your head that big that you can’t be wrong? Well I’m prepared to answer that with the actual MLB rule.
Rule 9.08 Sacrifices
I know not everyone truly understands legal talk so here goes. The official scorer has freedom to interpret the rule as they would call for. However, when it comes to sacrifice bunts it clearly states that before two outs, if a bunt is put into play and the runners, already on base, advance to the next base and no effort was put into throwing the batter out at first base, then the batter shall be credited with a one-base hit.
In both cases that I brought forward, that is the situation. Both batters Matt Szczur and Jon Lester laid down bunts that went back to the pitcher. In both situations not only did the runners advance to the next base, the batter reached first base without so much as an attempt to throw the batter out at first. Both times, the play was scored as a sacrifice bunt, when it clearly was a single as sacrifice bunt. The whole idea behind a sacrifice is giving something up. In baseball, an out is what’s given up, hence the need for MLB Rule 9.08 Sacrifices.
Am I looking to deep into it? Am I too big of a baseball nerd? Whatever you think is up to you but I can say I love this game. Like I said earlier, I may not be an “expert” but when it comes to baseball I do consider myself an expert.
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