Then we came to the end

Mark and I use essentially the same system of marks and abbreviations to keep score; it happened that way because we have been watching and scoring games together since 1999, adjusting and correcting as we go. We differ in a handful of small ways, though, and this is one of them: Mark uses a sharp, clean diagonal line to denote the end of an inning and the spot in the batting order where the team will pick up when it comes to hit again.

It seems the best way to mark the end of the baseball season, too. At least, to borrow an expression from a close baseball friend of mine, until someone turns in a scorecard with Dame Mutability penciled into the order.

After the Cardinals pulled off their ridiculous, still-not-quite-real comeback and won Game 6 of the World Series, 10-9, in 11 innings, and Mark quickly put up a post with a picture of his scorecard, I texted him that it might be the best I’ve ever seen. It’s the fullest and brightest, at least, no contest, and when you add the good fortune that he chose this game out of the seven in the Series to keep score, well, it’s hard to beat. It’s worth a look if you haven’t lingered over it yet.

We’ll leave you with one more contender — Roger Angell’s scorecard, posted the other day on a blog at The New Yorker. The man is 91 years old, people, and he still turns out the most beautiful prose about the game. You could while away a happy hour of your offseason figuring out Angell’s hieroglyphics. There’s a symbol over there in the bottom of the 10th that looks like the musical notation for a fermata.

“This World Series hasn’t won big ratings,” Angell wrote the day after Game 6, “but anyone who stayed awake until 12:40 A.M., E.T., last night has felt a glow of privilege all around him this morning.” I think that memory, the memory of the day after, will be one of my favorites of the season; in my office on Friday, whenever I bumped into anyone I knew to be even a casual baseball fan, I think the first thing I said was, “You watch that game last night?” When I got a yes, the next 15 minutes vanished into one of those classic baseball discussion-comparison-arguments: Where does Game 6 fit? It beats 1986, right? What about 1975? Does the whole series beat 1960? Or 1991? Or 2001?

I don’t imagine any of that will be settled between now and April 5. That’s another fine way to pass an hour this offseason.

And so we wind down our 2011 season here at Squaretender. We’ll be posting off and on during the offseason, but we are taking at least a break from the five-days-a-week schedule that we have maintained since the end of March. I think I can safely speak for Mark when I say that this project has been far more engrossing and entertaining than we could have imagined when we hatched the idea three years ago, somewhere on I-70, between St. Louis and Kansas City, during our 2008 baseball trip. We want to thank each of you for reading, particularly those of you who checked in every day, or once in a while, and even more particularly those of you who became active commenters and contributors. Some of you — Chuck H., Baseball Oogie, Paul, among others — chimed in so often that the experience was like what a pitcher must feel when he climbs back up on the hill and hears the murmur of infield chatter start up again. I think it was Chuck H. who said one day that we need to organize a meetup of “Squaretender Nation” one day; one of the most gratifying parts of this work was that we felt as though we were convening Squaretender Nation every time we posted.

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World Series Game 6 scorecard

It speaks for itself:

2011 World Series Game 6

What an unbelievable game and incredible series!

We’ll settle this thing Friday night, with the first Game 7 since 2002. Fantastic.

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WTF, in scorecard form

Bottom of the 8th

It was a bizzarre half-inning, to say the least: telephone mishaps, four pitchers, two intentional walks, a pinch runner, three strikeouts and a game-winning RBI. The Rangers’ eighth inning of Game 5 of the World Series may have been the turning point in this epic championship.

What does all that on-field chaos look like on a scorecard?

Thanks to Robert Milliman’s precise scorekeeping methods, we know the answer.

Milliman draws a beautiful picture of the game’s ugly events, which may forever defy a full explanation. How is it possible that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa screwed up so badly that left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski was allowed to face right-handed Mike Napoli, who just happens to be the hottest-hitting player in the playoffs?

How could La Russa not know that Motte wasn’t even warming up before he called Lance Lynn — who wasn’t even supposed to play Monday — into the game? How could he blame a telephone mix-up and crowd noise for such a monumental mistake?

Milliman’s scorecard shows the disaster step by step, in all its slow-motion-train-wreck glory.

Cards right-handed specialist Octavio Dotel started the inning by allowing a double to right-center field by the No. 4 hitter, Michael Young, but Dotel followed up with a strikeout. Then Dotel, who excels at mowing down righties, was ordered to intentionally walk right-handed hitter Nelson Cruz, putting runners on first and second with one out. Dotel wasn’t pleased.

La Russa was just getting warmed up with his bullpen manipulations. He brought in Rzepczynski, who promptly gave up a single to load the bases, but then La Russa for some reason left his specialist in the game for the unfavorable match-up against Napoli, who drove a two-run double deep to the outfield. That was all the Rangers needed for the win.

But La Russa wasn’t finished. Rzepczynski struck out the next batter before he brought in Lynn to issue an intentional walk. La Russa later claimed he didn’t know Lynn was entering the game instead of closer Jason Motte until Lynn reached the field. After the intentional walk, Motte finally — finally! — came in to face a single batter, who he struck out.

History — recorded in scorecards, box scores and news articles — will always remember this sequence of plays that may well doom the Cardinals hopes. Check out the full scorecards on Milliman’s site.

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‘Why don’t you try using two Dixie cups with a string?’

What kind of scorekeeping blog would we be if we didn’t post this one?

From Gabriel Haro on Twitter, an official scorecard from Game 5 of the World Series, the wild, odd 4-2 affair won by the Rangers for a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-7. There is, of course, no symbol that we know of for a telecommunications breakdown. It is the legacy of Game 5 that Tony La Russa and his bullpen staff might as well have used a rolled-up scorecard to talk to each other.

Scorecards inside official game programs can be notoriously difficult to use, mainly because they’re cramped with logos and advertising, but Gabriel seems to have made out just fine. Even has the stats filled out, too, with the 4-0-1-2 for Mike Napoli standing out in our memories forever.

Have a look:

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The Cardinals make a mess in ink

Here’s one for the Cloud of Gnats Collection. From Jerry Crasnick of, an absolute mess of a scorecard — the Cardinals half, at least — from the Game 3 blowout at the World Series.

And that was before Pujols really got going. (Speaking of which, a fabulous read from Roger Angell, at The New Yorker, here.)

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A World Series scorecard, proven and balanced

@jlondon81 posted his scorecard from Game 1 of the World Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won 3-2 over the Texas Rangers. He used the iScore scorekeeping app, which we reviewed earlier in the season:

Rangers World Series Game 1

Cardinals World Series Game 1










The Cardinals scored two in the fourth when Lance Berkman hit a single to right, and then the Rangers tied the game up in the 5th on Mike Napoli’s two-run home run to right. The Cards completed the scoring in the sixth when David Freese doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an Allen Craig single to right.

The iScore care is neat, detailed and easy to read, but it lacks a useful element contained in the Scoremaster scorebook, which we wrote about last week.

As Baseball Oogie mentioned in the comments, the Scoremaster card is easy to prove. Here’s how to prove a box score or scorecard, according to Wikipedia’s box score entry:

“A box score is in balance (or proved) when the total of the team’s times at bat, bases on balls received, hit batters, sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies and batters awarded first base because of interference or obstruction equals the total of that team’s runs, players left on base and the opposing team’s putouts. In other words, the box score is accounting for the number of batters and what became of them (scored, left on base, or put out). If a box score is unbalanced, then there is a logical contradiction and thus an error somewhere in the box score.”

The Scoremaster card makes proving a game simple by providing a space for it. From Robert Milliman’s ALCS Game 1 scorecards:

Detroit’s proof
Texas’ proof
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How the Cardinals coasted to victory in Game 1

Squaretender reader @drewbenn wins the award for most creative scorecard of the year.

A few days ago, we told you about something Drew dug up on the Internet — a scorecard on a coaster. It was an incredible artifact, but it had its limits; the scorecard was only good for the box-score totals of the nine players on either side.

Drew went a step further for the World Series. He devised a full scorecard on a coaster, then used it to score, in full color, the Cards’ 3-2 win over Texas in Game 1. Complete with space for pitchers. Behold!

Bravo, sir. He even found room for a game note about the controversial ball that Beltre appeared to foul off his foot but was ruled a grounder. Check out the video from, including the military infrared technology that Fox used to analyze it.

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A ruling from the bench on Babe Ruth in ’32

The St. Louis Cardinals have been the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a century. The Texas Rangers are relatively young, playing just their 40th season; before that they were the last incarnation of the Washington Senators. And for a World Series memory, we turn to a retired member of the other Washington nine.

Justice John Paul Stevens, whose memoir, “Five Chiefs,” is out this month, attended Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, the Babe Ruth “called shot” game. (We will not attempt the settle that here; the lore of the “called shot” has generated more dissent than Stevens did in 35 years on the bench.)

Chicago Tribune:

A rabid Cubs fan, he proudly displays in his office a framed scorecard he filled in at Wrigley Field on Oct. 1, 1932. It was a World Series game between the Cubs and the Yankees, made famous when Babe Ruth pointed to center field, hitting a homerun to the spot on his next swing.

And from “60 Minutes” last year:

We noticed a box score from Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Legend has it that the Yankees’ Babe Ruth pointed to a spot in the Cubs’ Wrigley Field and nailed a homerun right there – it’s the famous “called shot,” but whether it actually happened is ferociously debated.

Remember the fateful year when Stevens was 12? Well, he was here when Ruth came to bat. And we figured it was a question of suitable national importance on which to render this justice’s final ruling.

“He took the bat in his right hand and pointed it right at the center field stands and then, of course, the next pitch he hit a homerun in center field and there’s no doubt about the fact that he did point before he hit the ball,” Stevens recalled.

“So the ‘called shot’ actually happened?” Pelley asked.

“Oh, there’s no doubt about it,” Stevens said. “That’s my ruling.”

“Case closed!” Pelley said.

Stevens said, “That’s the one ruling I will not be reversed on!”

The scorecard is pictured above, via The Oyez Project.

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Lockbox: 1911 World Series

World Series 1911 scorecard

As this year’s World Series begins tonight, The New York Times published an article about championship programs through the ages. Like programs sold today, they’ve almost always contained scorecards.

“This is the most obvious keepsake, especially because you kept score in it,” said (Tom) Shieber of the Hall of Fame. “In a sense, it was autographed by you and it had a tie to a moment.”

Read the full article at the Times’ website, and enjoy the 2011 World Series between the AL’s Texas Rangers and the NL’s St. Louis Cardinals.

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Previously in Cardinals World Series history …

How many young St. Louis Cardinals fans will learn to keep score over the next two weeks? How many young Texas Rangers fans?

The Cardinals’ remarkable run through the playoffs got us thinking about a post from March of this yearover at Confessions of a Sports Junkie. The author writes about learning to keep score during the 1985 World Series, also known as the Don Denkinger series (and the last time the Kansas City Royals played in the postseason).

A taste:

It all started in 1985 during the World Series. While shopping at our local grocery store. While going through the store I came across scorecards as part of a Budweiser display. I had never kept score so I picked up a handful of the scorecards. I guess I wanted to learn how to do it. My father did teach me how to keep score during that 1985 World Series. We watched many games down in our basement, but those seven games really seem to stick out to me. That seemed to be a magical summer for me with baseball.

The whole post at CSJ is worth your time.

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