By Anthony Magarello |
The game is tied at zero through the bottom of the 8th. The home starter, let’s call him Lucky Chance, having pitched a shutout for 8 innings gets the first two outs but walks the next batter. Manager Mel Einstein replaces the starter with reliever, Oh Ming, nicknamed “Ming the Merciless.” He toes the rubber, checks the runner, then fires to first for an inning-ending pickoff. The home team scores the winning run in the bottom of the 9th. So who gets credit for the win, Ming the Merciless who never threw a pitch or Lucky Chance who pitched 8-2/3 of one-run ball? Ming, of course, because he’s “the pitcher of record.”
It’s unclear sure why he’s called the “pitcher of record” since all pitchers are recorded. Likely the rule makers needed to single out one guy to pin a win or a loss on. But even if you believe the pitcher is the most important player on the field, to say he won the game, perhaps never having thrown a pitch, is, well, iffy. Even if a starter gives up six, he’s credited with a win so long as his team has seven. Similarly, to charge a loss to a pitcher in a 1-0 nail-biter is a bit harsh. The team wins or loses; that’s what it says on the scoreboard. How it should be scored: no one player gets credit for a win or loss.
Baseball is a game that lends itself easily to statistical analysis, and that explains why some play-by-play announcers spew them ad nauseum. The most important stat, of course, is the run. The team that scores the most of them wins – nothing else really matters. So it would seem the rule makers would have devised a means by which a player can correctly be credited with scoring a run. But they didn’t.
Lead-off hitter Buster Crabbe singles. Doc Zarkoff forces Crabbe at second base before Dale Arden homers. Who gets credit for the two runs scored? The Rulers in their wisdom determined that both Zarkoff and Rogers having touched the plate get credit for a run each. Crabbe, who actually got a hit, gets nothing while the man who made the out gets credit for the most important stat in the game. (For some reason RBI’s seem to be given more weight than runs scored viz., Triple Crown includes RBI’s but not runs scored.) How it should be scored: a run is credited to the man forced; or, if touching the plate is necessary for getting a run credit, the forced player takes his place back at the base he held before being forced out.
Professor emeritus Anthony Magarello has been an avid baseball fan since the 1950’s and played shortstop in college. He has published fiction, non-fiction, and crossword puzzles and now he and his wife have time to watch every Yankees game on TV.