As many of you know, I like to keep score at baseball games. In the year 2018, you really don’t have to do this anymore to keep up with the game — the play-by-play scoring is available, pitch by pitch, on a device you keep in your pocket.
But I enjoy keeping score. It shows a visual record of the game at one glance, and it also allows me to have my own personal history of the game, created by me, that I can take home and refer to in the future. I’ve got all my Cubs scorecards dating back to 1969, over 2,900 of them, as well as cards from other games, and I do go back and look at them at times.
I’ve scored all the games at Wrigley Field up to now on an official Wrigley Field scorecard, but this post is to note that I have stopped doing that, effective after this year’s home opener. Oh, I’m still going to keep score, but not on the official scorecard.
Prior to this year, the Cubs issued a scorecard with a simple grid — one line per batting-order position, and blank squares for each batter/inning spot. Here’s what it’s looked like for the last few years. This card is the one from the N.L. Division Series last October against the Nationals:
Simple, but effective. The boxes are a bit small, but usable. It’s all on one side of the page, which makes it easy to use. For a larger image of the card above, click here.
When I bought a scorecard for the Cubs’ home opener this year, it looked like this:
I am well aware that this format is similar to what you’d find in a scorebook you’d buy at a sporting goods store.
But I hate it.
Here’s why. First, I don’t like the diamonds in the boxes. They get in the way when there’s no baserunner, and I can draw my own diamonds when runners are on base. Second, there is room for only three players per batting order position. As you can see, for this game there were seven players in the No. 9 spot, and Albert Almora Jr., the final batter in that spot, spilled over into the bottom of the card. What happens when the pitcher gets double-switched out of the No. 9 spot? Or when Joe Maddon bats the pitcher eighth? There wouldn’t be room for all the players on that line, most likely.
This card also has a tremendous amount of wasted white space at the top. Look at all the white space around “Chicago Cubs.” Also, I don’t really need the fielding diagram to place names of fielders. If I want to know who’s playing each fielding position, I can just look at the lineup that I have already written down.
The fact that the other team is on another page (I haven’t reproduced the Pirates page here, but it looked essentially the same) forces me to flip the card over every half-inning. This isn’t that big a deal, but having used another method that worked well for nearly five decades, why change it?
For a larger image of the Cubs official 2018 scorecard as shown above, click here.
So, I decided I wasn’t going to use this card anymore. Mike Bojanowski, who sits with me and also keeps score every day, made up a scoring grid for me some time ago that I use for spring training games. It was easy to use that template to create a card for regular season games and print it on card stock at home. Since some of you asked to see the card I used for the amazing comeback game last Saturday against the Braves, here it is:
Look at the No. 1 spot for the Cubs in particular. The pitcher got double-switched into that spot in the seventh inning. On the Cubs official card, there wouldn’t be room for the five players who eventually got placed in the No. 1 spot. Especially in N.L. games, this happens frequently, and for Joe Maddon-managed games, more often than for many other managers, given Joe’s penchant for moving guys around. There are also seven players in the No. 9 spot for the Braves, which, as I noted above, the Cubs’ card doesn’t have room for.
The card I made personally also has larger boxes than the Cubs official card, as well as allowing more space for the things I want to put on the card, and there’s no wasted white space. For a larger image of this card, click here.
(In case you’re wondering what the small numbers are next to the inning designation for pitchers in the pitcher boxes, I decided this spring training to keep track of mid-inning pitching changes. There were six of them in this game.)
Also, Mike makes up these rosters before each series, and I print them on the back:
(You’ll note the umpires list was cribbed from the Cubs official card. For a larger image of the lineup page above, click here.)
I’ll still buy one official card per series from the Cubs, just to have for the record for my collection, but unless they make some tweaks to the format (get rid of the diamonds, get rid of the lines for each batting order position) I’m going to continue to score on a scorecard I make myself.
Your scorecard wasn’t broken, Cubs. I wish you hadn’t “fixed” it. Perhaps you can make some tweaks to your official card during the upcoming road trip. If you’d make the changes I noted above, I’d probably go back to scoring on that official card.