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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Dream Job

Earlier this winter I had responded to a post on the SABR-L listserv regarding scorers ("stringers") needed by MLB.com to feed their Gameday Flash app here in Kansas City. I'm a regular user of Gameday for both Cubs and Royals games and I had read about what goes on in the press box at every major league game in an arictle by Alan Schwarz published in the Major League Baseball 2003 guide titled "The Stat Keepers" (the article doesn't appear to be online anywhere). In the article Schwarz profiles scorers from STATS, Inc., MLB.com, and Sportsticker and discusses the software they use for capturing play-by-play data. It sounded fascinating and promised a new way to watch and interact with the game (in addition to getting paid for attending games of course). I've always scored the games I attend in a semi-serious manner (I usually track each pitch and like to add up the stats at the end of the game), a habit I acquired from many years of playing baseball simulation games such as Cadaco's All Star Baseball and Strat-O-Matic.

I admit I was a little daunted by the prospect of having to learn over 5,000 codes (according to Schwarz the number is closer to 5,600) to handle virtually any possible play on a baseball field. However, I love baseball and statistics and so I went ahead and applied. My wife dryly noted that all my previous work and interest have prepared me for this job. After a scoring quiz (with some interesting and a few tough questions), and a couple of very professional phone interviews with Hank Widmer and Cory Schwartz at MLB.com (who assured me that help is only an IM away) - I got the call!

The responsibilities involve using MLB.com's proprietary software package to enter game data including pitch location that feeds the Gameday system, and to synchronize the final box score with the official scorer. I'll be training on the software the next couple of months in preparation for the season. I'll likely be scoring 25 to 30 games this year and am very excited to get going. Play Ball!

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