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Sunday 23rd Apr 2017

Working in the press box is a trip.

Of course, it is exciting, and a little scary at first.  

But, most of us have assigned seats, which means always sitting in the same place. That means always sitting by the same people for the most part,  so after a while it is like a job where you go to work and sit around those familiar to you. Often--in fact most of the time--those same folks become your friends, too.

Just like your office, we have likes and dislikes. For example, as much as those in the stands might crave extra innings, the rest of us fear them. For if there is a game, we go to the office, put in our eight hours, and then want to go home. I mean, how excited would you be to "get" to stay at the office for an extra hour because two extra vendors dropped in to try and sell you a new product?

You may well remain and hear the pitch, but you would not necessarily be as enthusiastic as you might have been over a lunch or early morning meeting. Not to mention, the longer the meeting goes, generally the more tired and loopy you become.

Well, the press box is no different. That is because we are essentially all co-workers. Meaning there are arguments and relationships and memorable moments, just like any other situation where us human beings are close knit.

There are also differences of opinion, and as it is, I always sit next to the Official Scorer when I work a game, so I have become friends and observational buddies with all of them (there are six who cover the Giants and Athletics).

It is no easy job, being the OS. For, though the questionable plays are less frequent than the routine, the focus is always on those judgements and their impact.

I clearly remember the first game C.C. Sabathia pitched at ATT Park when he spent time with the Brewers. First play of the game, shortstop J.J. Hardy did not field a ball cleanly, but the leadoff hitter was fast and it was a tough play, and ultimately called a hit.

At the time, no one really questioned the call, and Sabathia was able to get the runner with a double play, retiring the next 17 hitters in a row. During the break between the top and bottom of the seventh, I looked up to find the OS and me on the ATT Diamond Vision, noting the Brewers announcers were suddenly questioning the call in the first. For, there was no longer a chance for Sabathia to have a no-hitter. 

That inning the Giants got a hit, making the point moot, but it is pretty typical to second guess and bemoan calls ex post facto.

In 2008, during Tim Lincecum's final start of the season, a ball rode up third baseman Rich Aurilia's wrist, allowing a runner, again a fast one, to reach first base. And, the ball took a little hop and was ruled a hit. That meant the subsquent runs that scored against Lincecum were earned, and at the time he had the lead in the ERA title. So, there was a lot of pressure from the team to really look at that replay again--especially after Aurilia said he thought it was an error--and make sure and put the truth in "its best light." As in agreeing with Aurilia, for if it was an error, and the runs unearned, it meant Lincecum could win the ERA title, and that would surely be a feather in the cap of a team that still had yet to win a pair of World Championships.

Last Friday, when the Giants and Dodgers were playing, a similar play happened where a ball took a hop on second sacker Marco Scutaro and though he recovered, he then threw the ball away and the runners advanced accordingly. The play was deemed a single and a throwing error, and not an eye was batted.

Four days later--last Monday--when Madison Bumgarner and his sub-.2.00 ERA was pitching--Scutaro had a similar play where the ball hopped, no one was covering second, and he chose to throw to first, albeit wildly. This was ruled an error on the play and the throw, but then overturned to a single and a throwing error.

And, when the call was made, at first, it was not questioned.

Until it was discovered that Scutaro was sure it was an error, and the again unearned runs would be a kick in the shins of Bumgarner's ERA. For the remainder of the game, the single adjudication was asked about, and the OS noted he was still thinking about it.

By the end of the game, the single stood, as did the earned runs, and I checked my box score against the OS's to ensure we both had everything correctly and consistently.

As we were leaving, the Giants media guys came back up into the booth, and as we passed them the OS asked "Are they still pissed at me?" 

"Yes," was the response.

"Well, you can always appeal to a higher authority," was the response, and we walked out to go home.

It is true. It is also why I am glad that people make the decisions in the booth, as on the field. For, though we are not infallable by any means, we are human. And, a game played by humans should also be judged by humans.

It is also why I have no ambition in ever becoming an Official Scorer.


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