Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Wrong LaRoche

If I start a new blog about adventures in baseball scorekeeping, I think I'll have to call it The Wrong LaRoche. Having the wrong LaRoche almost cost me this new opportunity.

I'll give you the deets quickly, because it's been a long last three days and I'm ready to go rest before going back to work tomorrow. So about a month ago, I saw a Craigslist ad (yep, Craigslist again...will this work out like my last job in Chicago or will it be another scam like "Shelley"?) looking for minor-league scorekeepers for the upcoming baseball season. Why, there's a minor-league team right here in my new city! They're the Memphis Redbirds, and I went to a few games last year. Good team (of course, since they're affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, who only won the World Series last year), great stadium, love the BBQ nachos, but I wonder why they refuse to stock lids for their soft drinks. I don't like flying critters in my Coke. Anyhow, I responded to the ad, and someone replied back with a two-question e-mail interview asking me what numbers correspond to the players on the field when keeping score and how to score a 2nd-to-SS-to-1st double play. Two very easy questions for me, and I tried to give a little flava in my answer by mentioning that my favorite DP is P-to-C-to-1st, the ol' 1-2-3 if you're scoring. He replied that it was his fav too, but he didn't see it at all last year. So I passed the first gateway and was sent to a website that gave me the details of the job, and I almost got scared off by the 17-question sheet that I had to fill out. But it paid $25 per game plus reimbursed parking, so I pressed on.

I was mailed a booklet and a couple of DVDs a couple of weeks later. The booklet described in 57 pages of detail what I'd have to keep track of when scoring games according to their specifics. Oh. My. God. This would be scoring a game in a fashion unlike any I've ever even attempted! I'm talking keeping track of every pitch result, every pickoff result, charting the field location of every single ball put in play, as well as the velocity and trajectory of the ball. And those are the basics! Don't even ask about what you have to do on complex plays, like when there's an out made on a base hit or there's an error on a fielder's choice, or when the defense shifts. Man, my head's exploding just thinking about it. One of the DVDs was the guy who runs this operation sitting at a webcam going over real examples of many various game situations. That DVD runs for over two hours. The 2nd DVD is of a game from a few years ago between the Giants and Pirates that they use as a test game. I had to keep score of the test game and send it in like I would a normal game, and only if that test game was scored as decent would I then finally be allowed as part of the Memphis crew of scorers. Well, I sweated and sent that game in last night, even though they provided a box score of that test game and it had a pitcher officially throwing two wild pitches, and my box score only showed one. The thing is, I went back and looked at my inning-by-inning chart, and I had the two wild pitches recorded. But I didn't even care to figure out what I did wrong. I was so exhausted that I just sent the thing in and hoped for the best.

The e-mail came this morning that my test game had been scored. The guy in charge started the first sentence with "You made two major errors and nine minor errors..." My heart almost stopped. I assumed that the wild pitch discrepancy would be some kind of fuck-up on my end. Where did these ten other errors come from??? Then I kept reading the sentence, and it said "...which is better than average for our test game scores." Really?? My eleven errors is actually considered kosher?? I couldn't help but smile as I skipped to the end of the e-mail, where the guy in charge welcomed me aboard and said that once I went into the software and checked off which Redbirds games I would be available for, he'd schedule me. Whoooo!! "I'm in! I'm in!" I said to my wife on the phone. I was ecstatic and also relieved.

At this point, I went back to the e-mail and read the errors that I made. The wild pitch thing was a major error, and it happened because there's a box that you have to check before the wild pitch gets put into the system, and I neglected to check this box the 2nd time, and that's why it never showed up in my box score. The other major mistake? I put the wrong LaRoche into the starting lineup. The Pirates had two brothers on their team, Adam and Andy LaRoche, and without thinking about the fact that Adam was too clumsy to play third base, I put him in as the starting 3B instead of Andy. Yeah, that's kind of a major mistake, starting the wrong guy. However many games I get to score, I'm fairly confident that I won't put the wrong fucking player in the lineup again. But I'm just psyched that I will get to score some games at all. I'm also intimidated at how much detail I'll have to keep up with. I won't be able to take a piss or get a bite to eat unless my wife comes with me to some games and feeds me while I scribble. But it's hard to complain because I'd be getting paid to keep score of a game. How awesome is that? I only wish they paid more so that I could make it a full-time gig. But hey, I may have to pull out those schmoozing skillz that my father instilled in me and make friends and cohorts along the way, and maybe I'll find my way up the chain into a serious-paying baseball executive role. Don't put it past me. I have a lot of failures in my past, but I've been known to come out ahead at times also. And with the cash flow getting a serious setback thanks to all the car trouble the last several months, I'm as motivated as can be to climb any ladders that I come across.