Sunday, July 10, 2005

There are few summer pleasures than taking in a fastpitch game at Snug Cove Field. In The Undercurrent this week, there was a great article by Marcus Hondo, the writer of the weekly League roundup known as The Rallycap Chronicles that captures the spirit of the games that unfold down there:

During the playing of a game in the Bowen Island fastpitch league we players know lots of different things: who showed up, when the ferry pulls out, what time the General Store closes, where the toilets are, things like that. There is one thing however that we do not seem to know.

The score.

We try keeping count, only distractions like keeping half-an-eye on the kids, yakking with fans, kibbitzing with teammates and choosing a batting helmet that fits our heads inevitably causes us to miss a run or two. Or an inning or two. As a result, before you can say 'who's on first' we've lost track of the score.

There is of course a very nice scoreboard at Snug Cove field but that is used for the Shaker kids and other fans to sit on, it's not used for putting the score on.

Back a few games ago during a break in play - I think it was the time Gypsy the Jack Russell terrier was recruited to chase the geese out of right field - I realized that once again I myself did not know the score. I was sitting in the dugout surrounded by teammates so all I had to do was ask, right?

"What's the score?"

There was a silence. A pretty long silence. I saw brows wrinkling. "Doesn't anybody know the score?"

"Ahhh," one of my teammates stammered, "Yeah-I think we got three."

"Terry hit that homerun, I know that," someone else offered.

"Yeah with two guys on base. So we got three," reasoned the first guy.

"Right. Three for us," said another.

I recalled Terry Cotter hitting the homer all right. But I still didn't know the score. I tried again.

"I see," I said. We got three. That's great. What about the other team though?
Isn't that meaningful? I mean doesn't anybody know how many runs they got?"

"Humph. No," said one.

"Oh I think they have-no, I don't know," said another.

"More than three?" suggested a third.

It's not just our team either. I'm convinced that other teams often don't know the score. About half way through one recent game I was hustling out to take my position up on the mini-slope in left field when I asked the Cruiser running down the other way if he knew the score. He told me that my team was leading by -two or three runs".

"Are you sure?" I stopped and asked. Because I thought that it was you guys who were leading by two or three runs."

We started counting innings and runs but that was hard work so before too long we gave it up. But he continued to insist that we were leading while I, the Celtic, was certain that it was the Cruisers in front. We were each of us arguing that the other one's team was winning.

Mercifully, our second baseman, Don Nicholson, overheard us and waded in to settle things. "It's tied," Don said.

It takes a few games in the league before you figure out how things really work: at crunch time in the last inning with runners on base and two out, the catcher decides that now is the time he desperately has to know how close the game is. He needs to yell at his pitcher and his fielders to tell them how hard they should try to get the final out. He turns to the umpire - it's pointless to ask teammates (see above) - and asks for the score.

The umpire, naturally enough, has absolutely no idea what the score is, so he walks over to the backstop and calls up to the scorekeeper in the stands. The scorekeeper, often it's Chris or Mara or Glen or George or Mary or Jeff, all excellent scorekeepers, stops yakking with friends, hunches over the scorebook for a longish moment and then calls out: "Hold on. I better count again."

"Just play ball," says the ump. And back we go to playing without knowing the score.

Even the following day many players continue to not know the score. We won," they'll tell you, I think it was-oh, I'm not really sure of the score but we had more runs." Or in the case of some teams it's more often, We lost. I think it was-oh I'm not really sure of the score but they had more runs."

I have this theory that the real blame for all of this not knowing of the score falls upon the surroundings. As teammate Sean Delaney told me once, sometimes he'll be standing on the Snug Cove Field diamond and "-suddenly I look up at all the trees and the mountains and I realize what a great place to play ball we've got. It's just so peaceful. At times like that I don't really care about the score."

Sean's right of course. And besides, at the end of every game handshakes are delivered, banter is exchanged, the kids are rounded up and there's plenty to talk about during the journey home. So what's the big deal about the score anyway?

All right now, in keeping with the spirit of all this The Rally Cap Chronicles did not call scorekeepers to find out who beat who by what this week, nor did I pay attention to the scores when I stopped by games. For this week at least there will be no scores.

Only you still wanna know you say?

You might try asking a player.

League games are played Monday night through Saturday, except most Tuesdays and some Thursdays, at 6:30 (or often a little later).