Some of you are aware that back in the ’90s, I was an official scorer for the American League for games played in Baltimore. I was one of a handful of guys who did the job. You were appointed by the league on the recommendation of the home team.
Every so often, there would be a scoring decision that was questioned by either the player involved, or the PR guy for the team he played on. They’d ask me to “take another look” at it on video, and see if I saw it their way. I never did, but I’d take the time to review it.
Now, it seemingly won’t matter if the scorer - not me, I stopped doing it after 1995 - agrees with them or not. The new protocol for questioning a scoring decision, as delineated in the collective bargaining agreement, sets it up thus:
1. Aggrieved player calls his agent, and spells out his objection.
2. Agent contacts Players’ Association and states his client’s case.
3. Union contacts MLB and files an official complaint.
4. MLB reviews the play and issues either a confirmation of the original call, or a scoring change.
Got it? Until now, the official scorer had 24 hours to change a call before it was etched in stone. Now it appears to be a procedure that will take considerably longer than 24 hours.
There are a myriad of problems with this change, not the least of which is the most obvious: If an error is changed to a hit, and the pitcher involved sees his ERA rise by 50 percent because of what happened after that error - which is now a hit - don’t you think his agent will start the process all over again? Plus, how is the scoring change announced? Is there a specific avenue for releasing this information? It’s revisionist history for those fans who live and die by the box score.
I have to believe that this issue will be revisited if there are daily challenges, which won’t surprise me. If you’re an agent, are you going to talk your client out of it if you think that extra hit might mean the difference between .299 and .301? Of course not. You’ll see those same dollar signs your client sees.
This is potentially a dangerous precedent. We’ll keep an eye on it throughout the season and revisit the topic at a later date.