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.