Anyway, as you may or may not know, I was hired in the offseason to join MLB.com’s Advanced Media team to be one of their Stat Stringers for the Cleveland Indians. The data I enter is used on MLB.coms Gameday application (which is greatly improved this year), ESPN and a few other sources. People’s first question is “how did you get that job”, so I’ll start there. I saw a posting on my Twitter feed from the Society for American Baseball Research (better known as SABR) that said there were openings in some cities. When I got to the webpage I noticed that one of the openings listed was in Cleveland. Maybe not a surprise to some considering how bad they were projected to be, but either way there are only about 100 people that do this for MLB so I decided to brush up my baseball resume (yes I have one of those) and apply.
|My View in the Press Box|
The phone interview went pretty well. I asked some questions about the job; how many current stringers there were (2 others in the Cleveland market), how would we choose who did what games, how many people applied for the job (roughly 60), etc. He asked me some questions about my current job and work schedule, how far away I lived and how well I took criticism. He said the practice/training period would be tough and that early on you would make mistakes and the support folks would be pretty tough on you (just 5 games in I’m starting to feel that, but I also understand how important the data is and why they are so tough). Anyway, I left the interview thinking I had a shot at getting the position, but unsure due to the number of applicants.
After a couple anxious weeks, I finally got a call saying I’d gotten the job. Shortly after, I received an email with the scoring manual and the first practice game. At that time I thought “wow this is pretty tough”. I know now that those first couple practice games were actually meant to be pretty easy. Here’s a taste of what some simple codes look like;
-Wilfredo Cordero grounds out, third baseman Chris Stynes to first baseman Brian Daubach. Roberto Alomar out at home, Daubach to catcher Scott Hatteberg. Double play. Code; 53/G/DP.3XH(32)
-Kenny Lofton hits a fly ball double, fielded by left fielder Manny Ramirez. Russell Branyan scores. Jolbert Cabrera scores. Code; D7/F.3-H;1-H
-Roberto Alomar hits a pop single, fielded by shortstop Lou Merloni. Jolbert Cabrera advances to 3rd. Ellis Burks advances to 2nd. Code; S6/P.2-3;1-2
I did about 10 practice text games and then 5 practice DVD games in which we were introduced to the user interface that’s used at the ballpark. Finally, there was a test to ensure you were ready to head to the real games. Here’s a sample of some of the tougher codes (I’ll admit these are rare, but they do happen and one misplaced character results in an invalid code);
-Juan Encarnacion reaches 1st on a fielder's choice out, third baseman Eric Munson to catcher Brandon Inge to third baseman Eric Munson. Dave Roberts out at home. Juan Encarnacion advances to 2nd on the throw. Code; FC5/G.3XH(525);B-2
-Jason Giambi singles, fielded by left fielder Rondell White. Double play, left fielder Rondell White to third baseman Eric Munson to catcher Brandon Inge to third baseman Eric Munson. Alfonso Soriano out at home. Derek Jeter out at 3rd. Code; S7/G. 752(3)5(2)/DP
-Aaron Boone singles, fielded by left fielder Rondell White. Hideki Matsui scores on a dropped throw error by catcher Brandon Inge, assist to left fielder Rondell White. Kenny Lofton advances to 3rd. Aaron Boone advances to 2nd on the throw. Code; S7/G. 2-H(7E2)(UR);1-3;B-2
So, I’m through 5 of about 25 games that I will score this year (hopefully the first year of many). It has been a great experience thus far and I believe I am improving. After being a little nervous for my first game, I’m now counting down the days until my next (May 12th!).