So my wife — who is not a baseball fan by any stretch of the imagination — goes to the Columbus Clippers-Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees game last night. It was a work function and the beer was free. You know how that goes. Anyway, when she came downstairs this morning I asked her how it went. I wish I was embellishing it, but this is basically a verbatim transcript of the conversation. I’m not joking:
Me: How was the game?
Ms. Shyster: Good, I guess.
Me: Who won?
MS: I don’t know. I couldn’t tell.
Me: What do you mean you couldn’t tell? There’s a big scoreboard out in the outfield.
MS: Yeah, but it had, like, a million numbers on it. I didn’t know which one was the score.
Me: [taking a beat to contemplate how I’ve been married to this woman for 14 years — how, because of her wonderful influence, I’ve absorbed the nuances of ballet and art and wine and fine dining and everything else that makes me the well-rounded guy I pretend to be, yet zero baseball has penetrated that beautiful head of hers]: There are three columns to the right. One has an “R” at the top, one has an “H” at the top and one has an “E” at the top. The “R” column is runs. Whoever had the highest number in that column won. [note: I’ve given up actually trying to determine who won at this point; I’m thinking more about making this a teaching moment].
MS: Runs — those are the same as points?
Me: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Yes.
MS: How do they get points again?
Me: [it’s dawning on me too late that she’s almost certainly f*cking with me now, but she’s doing it with such seeming innocence that I decide to press on anyway]: When a batter crosses home plate, like, if he hits a home run, for example, that’s a run. You know this.
MS: Right, but for purposes of the scoreboard — that’s a hit too, right? So they get numbers up there for both of those things.
Me: Yes, but only the run column is the score. On a single play it’s possible for there to be a run, a hit and an error, and all three of those things are accounted for up there.
MS: [I think this is actually an honest question]: What’s an error again?
Me: When the fielders make a mistake. Say, someone bobbles a ball or throws it away or to the wrong guy or something.
MS: Why would anyone throw the ball to the wrong guy? They’re wearing different color uniforms. How much of an idiot do you have to be to throw it to the wrong guy? [she’s starting to laugh now, so I know she’s f*cking with me].
Me: [ignoring it all and making the point I hoped this little Socratic dialogue was going to lead to when it began]: Whatever. Look, the point is that the reason there are so many numbers is that things besides the actual score are documented. The scoreboard is updated for everything that happens. Those guys with the notebooks in the stands? They’re keeping score. Everything that happens on a field in a game results is some kind of notation. All of those notations taken together can be distilled into a small space called a box score [really hitting my stride now] You know that blog post I write every night that makes you so mad at me? That’s basically me reading box scores of 15 baseball games and recapping them all. I can do that because the numbers tell a story. I can divine from them most of the important things that happen in a game, even if I’ve didn’t see the game. That’s why there’s so many numbers on the board.
MS: [waiting a moment to make sure I’m done]: Well I guess you’re quite the savant, then, aren’t you.
She then continued with her breakfast. I left for work, wondering who I pissed off in my past life to deserve all of this.
Are there any paleontologists married to creationists? Do they make it work?