Thursday, April 12, 2012

#80: Baseball Scorecards

***Since Spring is in full swing with rapidly changing weather, shorts one day and parkas the next and the sound of birds chirping, it only makes sense to discuss the hallmark of the season: Baseball. Over the next few months where we forget about the horrid winter and remember why we decided to live in the Midwest we will be periodically discussing the Dadness that is baseball.***

It is finally here! Opening Day! As Dad and son go through the turnstiles for another season of Major League Baseball, the smell of brats and Old Style cheap beer wafting through the bleachers brings back a sense of familiarity. The duo makes their way to their seats and they may be up in the nosebleeds but son has his trusty mitt in tow, reading to catch a foul ball. A fresh ballcap adorn the son’s head, while Dad still wears his same hat from yesteryear. A fresh program in each of their hands, son goes straight to the player pictures to see his favorites, while Dad does something different. Dad? What are you doing? Dad is going through the roster, jotting down jersey numbers and last names, making notes and muttering about the lineup. He is doing the ultimate Dad thing at a baseball game: he is filling out the scorecard.

Baseball games can hit a lull in the middle innings. The excitement of the start is done and the late inning thrills aren’t there yet. Dad keeps his focus by drafting a summary of every pitch and play, the baserunner’s journeys to home, the double plays all while being able to guzzle a few beers and down nacho’s before his heartburn rears its ugly head. Dad knows all the notations from ground rule double to balk to the rare unassisted triple play (just in case it happens). He is eager to teach his son, but all the kid wants to do is see some homers and eat a gallon of cotton candy. “My Dad taught me how to do this when I was your age” he says. His son doesn’t even take notes in school, why do it at a baseball game? Do people even read the scorecards after the fact? I think not, that’s why there is ESPN.

Scorecards are an ancient and dying phenomena, populated by Dads and old ladies who were alive the last time the Cubs won it all and remember when Bob Uecker was some young whippersnapper with the Milwaukee Braves and Cy Young was a pitcher, not an award. Dads carry on the art of the scorecard, while they scan every pitch through their flip up sunglasses. Every tic mark is followed by a remark about the umpire’s eyesight or the pitcher using vaseline to get a few inches on his curve ball. It allows Dad to focus on the game because let’s face it, without the score card Dad would have been out cold in the fourth inning after he devoured that third hot dog.

Here is to a long summer of home runs, diving catches, ivy walls, Seventh Inning Stretches and sunburns sitting in the bleachers. At least my counterpart here at That’s So Dad was smart enough to be a Giants fan while I am stuck with the Cubbies. It is going to happen someday…

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