Tuesday night I did something I haven’t done in years. I took out a baseball scorebook I had stashed away1 and kept score for a game I watched on TV.
I keep score a few times a year for baseball and softball games that I’m covering for the paper. But I can’t recall the last time I decided to keep score for a game I was watching from home.
It’s one thing to do it when I need all the details for a story and box score that I will submit to be published with my name attached. The quicker pace of high school games makes that process easier as well.
It’s another thing, though, to tackle a 2.5 — 3 hour Major League game when you have the distractions of kids, other channels, checking Twitter, and maybe playing a quick round of an iOS game between innings.2
I thought Tuesday was a good night, though, because it was Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura’s first start of the year. Something about him reminds me of when Dwight Gooden first came up to the Mets in 1984. For the next 3-4 seasons, when Dr. K was pitching, it was must-see TV. Although this wasn’t Ventura’s first big league start – he started three games last September – this felt like a good night to document what happened to hold on to and look back upon years down the road.
Who knows how his career will go. Maybe he’ll be amazing, like Gooden, for a short span then burn out. Maybe he’ll have a long, solid career but never be the absolute ace some expect him to be. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll match those Pedro Martinez comparisons and be the dominant pitcher in the game for a long stretch.
It ended up being a fine night to keep score. Ventura was amazing. He made Wil Myers look foolish three times. He completely froze Evan Longoria, one of the best hitters in the game, on a called third strike. And he kept Tampa Bay in check all night. His only flaw was racking up too many pitches, limiting himself to only six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out six.
Tampa’s Chris Archer was nearly as good, though. The 25-year-old went seven innings, working around six hits and two walks and getting out of two bases-loaded jams.
The Rays bullpen escaped another bases-loaded threat by the Royals in the 8th and then scraped a run out in the ninth to win 1-0.
Perhaps, ten years from now, I’ll pull out the scorebook and look back on the night that two of the best pitchers in the game went up against each other on an early-April night when both of them were just beginning to discover how great their talents were.