Baseball: Is the Official Score Keeper Biased?

The day before in the Orioles vs Tampa Bay* game, Trey Mancini was credited with an in the park homerun. This was only possible because the outfielder lost the ball in the sun. (This was a day game.) No error was scored on the play.

Why wouldn’t this be deemed an error? And, since this was a home game* for the Orioles, could the Official Score Keeper be biased?

*Forgive me. I always forget the proper order of “who vs. whom” to properly indicate the home team.

I watched the video. Based on the shadows and the angle of the ball, he not only lost it in the sun, he was looking directly at the sun. Sunglasses won’t help with that and there’s nothing the fielder can do.

The Official Scorer is not really all that objective. They are generally selected by the Home Team (at least that is what I recall). It is mostly a local sports reporter.

If there’s an “official order” for “vs,” I don’t know about it; but you’ll often see “Visiting Team at Home Team.”

I think even with using “vs” the convention is to put the home team second in baseball. (Come to think of it, with most American sports I assume the home team is the second listed.)

If this is the case, it likely explains it. The rules call for charging an error if the scorekeeper thinks the play could have been made with “ordinary effort.” It seems to me that if an outfield is looking directly into the sun, making the play would have been extraordinary.

Yes, Rule 2.00 defines “Ordinary Effort” as “the effort that a fielder of average skill at a position in that league or classification of leagues should exhibit on a play, with due consideration given to the condition of the field and weather conditions.” That last little bit seems to specifically allow for a ball in the sun to be beyond ordinary effort, no?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a lost-in-the-sun fly ball NOT ruled a hit.

I’ve also seen a pop fly that dropped between infielder and outfielder ruled a hit, when in fact either of them could have easily made the catch.

I agree. If you don’t touch the ball, odds are it won’t be ruled an error.

One thing frustrating to me about baseball is how subjective stats can be. Errors and saves are nebulously-defined, I’m sure there are others I can’t think of right now:

The definition of a save is:

"A save is awarded to the relief pitcher who finishes a game for the winning team, under certain circumstances. A pitcher cannot receive a save and a win in the same game.

A relief pitcher recording a save must preserve his team’s lead while doing one of the following:

  • Enter the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitch at least one inning.
  • Enter the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle, at the plate or on the bases.
  • Pitch at least three innings."

Where is the ambiguity?

I suppose a save is not so much ambiguous as it is confusing, I’ve seen professional sports writers get confused about whether there was a legitimate save opportunity or not.

Not good ones most likely.

A prime example from the 2015 ALCS.

Quite possibly.

The save rule can be confusing. I’ll admit it, but any baseball beat writer should know it well. Some of the national announcers on the other hand, I strongly suspect their actual knowledge of baseball.

I think it is the middle bullet that confuses people:

    • Enter the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle, at the plate or on the bases.

Soccer is an exception. The convention is to list the home team first.

I can see why. Especially if you can’t hear who might have been calling for the ball, which of the two fielders would you charge with the error?

I like how American football does it. They’ll say something like “Chicago@Detroit”. That way there’s no ambiguity.

Maybe you’re thinking of wins. There are instances when the score keeper can award the win to a pitcher when they weren’t the last pitcher to pitch before the winning run was scored (and not counting the 5 IP minimum for starting pitchers). It’s a really dumb application to a really dumb statistic.