If you are not keeping score at home, then maybe you should be. A true fan might conceive of a myriad of reasons for doing so, and it would be difficult to fault any or all of those reasons.
- If you have a child or children, there is no better time and place to teach him/her/them how to keep score. You do not want to be the numbskull at the stadium who spends the first 3 innings fumbling around with scorecards, pencils, erasers, an iPad, an Android device, and a highly annoyed ex-MMA fighter sitting next to you. Nope. You do not want to try and teach your kid(s) how to keep score during an actual baseball game in a real stadium. Tickets are expensive, and there is about a 10:1 chance that you end up with some kind of condiment stain on the scorecard. Forget that.
- Spring training games do not count for anything, so there is no harm in discarding error-filled scorecards that are partially covered in doodles, whozits, and whatsits galore. Also, thingamabobs.
- You need the practice. Do not be the fan who shows up with scorecard in hand only to spend time doing a Google search on the latest news from Full Spectrum Baseball. There is nothing inherently wrong with that search effort, but you can at least wait until you get home to read the site. Keeping score takes a certain amount of focus which we find often lacking in the real world these days. Given the plethora of multimedia stimulants, ADHD afflictions, and the need for more cowbell, many adults have seemingly lost the ability to stay on task. Stay the course, people. Stay focused on the scorecard and the game.
- No feeling compares to reaching the end of a game with a mistake free scorecard, except for maybe winning $10,000 on a scratch off ticket on your way home from the game. If you can perfect the art of keeping score, then maybe you can pull off the daily double of a perfect scorecard AND a winning ticket.
- Perhaps the best reason for keeping score at home during games is that doing so provides your brain with an excellent diversion from the commercials that seek to extract points from your IQ and money from your wallet. Do you really need to see another Charlie Sheen commercial? Please do not answer that.
Finally, I would argue that the best reason for keeping score at home stems from a desire to stay connected to our baseball past and the heritage that accompanies that past. Most baseball fans were born well before the proliferation of cable television and the advent of online streaming of real-time events. Before a significant number of Americans had access to cable television, the only way to gain greater access to baseball games was to prop up a massive satellite dish in your yard and hope that the kids did not figure out how to break the security code for the “adult” channels.
To be truthful, most fans followed baseball through radio broadcasts. For me, this was an intensely personal way to learn about the game, because I spent endless summer afternoons and evenings listening to Jack Buck while lounging on the sun porch at my grandparent’s house. Even when a game would be available on tv, we would often opt to listen to the radio, because there was just something different about listening to a detailed description of events that you could picture in your mind. Such times were a staple of my childhood as much as they were a tiny glimpse at the purist form of Americana.
If you could keep score while listening to the radio broadcast of a game, then you really were accomplishing something. Looking back, I realize now that scorecards were responsible for magnificent improvements in my handwriting skills during each summer. Maybe I cared little for keeping letters and numbers inside the lines on Big Chief notebook paper at school, but there was absolutely no way I would dare mar my scorecard with a single, superfluous mark. Actually, malformed numbers were the enemy of the aesthetically ideal scorecard, so I spent commercial breaks and pitching changes tidying up that precious scorecard.
In retrospect, the time spent listening to games and keeping score at home set the ideal stage for a lasting bonding experience. I absolutely cannot think of both my grandparents without making a connection to baseball sooner or later. To this day, I still keep score at home whenever possible. Doing so honors the memory of those wonderfully innocent summers lounging on that sun porch 30+ years ago, and I would not trade those memories for anything in the world.