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Baseball Scoring Made Easy

Just because the major leagues are done and the World Series is over doesn't mean that all of us are done with baseball. In fact, my league started in October and will be going – well, possibly into 2011.  What league runs that long? My table-top replay of the 1984 American League using a statistic-based game called APBA Baseball. You have a card for nearly every major league player (other than a few who only played in one or two games) for every team for a year. As you may recall, the Detroit Tigers went 35-5 that year to start the season and won the World Series in five games over the San Diego Padres. That was one heck of a team, and now I want to see if I can recreate that season with this table-top game. But hold on – this is a table-top game, not a computer simulation. So why am I writing about it for MacNews?

Well, you still need to score the game.  While I can score a game with paper and pencil, it's a bit tedious, and sometimes it can be hard to interpret just what happened afterwards (especially when your writing is on the messy side). Technology to the rescue! To score the games, I use an iPhone/iPod Touch app called iScore Baseball Scorekeeper from FasterThanMonkeys Software (FTM).



iScore allows you to score a baseball game without knowing the codes for the different positions, the different plays, or much of anything. Their motto is "score what you see." If the batter hits a ball into the outfield and it's caught, you touch out, then you touch where the ball went, and then you touch the fielder that made the play. If any runners were on base, you are asked what they did (tagged up, stayed put, etc.). You can even record where pitches went, what type they were, and their speed if you want. When you're all done scoring the game, you can have iScore mail you the scorecard and the stats.  The stats are in comma separated value files (CSV) or in an Excel spreadsheet (or you can have both) and the scorecard is sent as a PDF. Here's a sample scorecard from "opening day." The speckle charts at the end of the PDF are empty because I don't have that data to save. The email also can contain the data in HTML format. Here's the stats from one of my games that came in the email.

All these stats are available on the iPhone/iPod Touch, too. You can see stats for a single game for for all games, or for leagues, which for iScore are arbitrary groupings of games used for splitting off stats. Leagues are a bit of a discussion themselves, but suffice to say that they are a great way to see your data in different ways. For example, you can have your softball team run through a fall league and a spring league and tournament, and by putting the games into different leagues you can keep all the stats separate, and still see cumulative stats from all three of those leagues.

iScore has options for softball and little league, too, so you can have more than 9 players batting, for example. In addition, it has links to send some info via Twitter (and since I don't use Twitter, i'm not sure what you can send in 140 characters about a ball game…). It also has a feature called iScorecast. You can send the game scoring data to a web site with a Flash animation of the game either in real time of after the game is over (check out a sample here). The animation has audio of the crowd (they groan at errors and cheer for hits, and go wild over home runs!). You can turn the audio off if you don't want it. This is a great feature if you know someone is stuck at a computer and wants to follow a game (like a parent stuck at work with the other parent score their child's game live).

You also can buy the current major league teams, players and stats for scoring the big leagues from right inside the app. On game day, you can hit a "sync" button and get the starting lineups auto-loaded!

About the only downside to the program is the need to type in all the players and teams. Originally, this had to be done on the iPhone. Now if you're scoring just your softball team, no big deal. You put in your players (once, not every game) and then the opposing team (or a generic "opponents" if you don't care about any of the other team's stats) and away you go. Now try every major league player from, say, 1984.  Fortunately, you can now enter this info into a web page supplied by FTM and download the data into your iPhone. The web page has some tools for batch-loading players too, which makes maintenance a lot easier. You can also do player and team editing online, all at no extra cost.

The program has occasionally crashed on me, but when it does, you can pick up right where you left off – every play is saved as you enter it to a database, so you don't lose any data.

In addition, the support for this game is phenomenal. FasterThanMonkeys has a forum for questions and problems. I had a couple of minor problems with the program a couple of releases back. I think the longest wait I had was an hour for a response and usually had a promise of a fix in the next version within two. They seem to have someone watching the board at all times , and questions/problems receive very prompt attention.

iScore Baseball Scorekeeper is $4.99 in the app store, and I use this app almost every day (it's going to take a long time to replay all those games!).  FTM is working on scoring other sports (I believe basketball is next) and I'm sure they'll do a great job with that, too. 


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4 Responses to Put Me In, Coach

  1. Sean says:

    This is what I have been looking for years. The other scorekeeping programs for Mac were weak. I have been on the site for two days and I’m glad I found it.

  2. Ken Hutchins says:

    Seems to be a very nice application. Definitely would help the SABR folks and Baseball Abstract fans during Major League games. Twitter feeds would give the “play by play” results for each batter “Jetter flied out to right, one on, two, bottom of first) or something like that. It would be like getting the old text feeds for radio recreated games that did play by play but the broadcaster was no where near the game. Your friends would follow the game on Twitter that you were scoring. Interesting concept.

    How did the game produce the pitch counts? I didn’t think the board game version listed that many times when cards called out balls and strikes. I seem to remember the ABPA Computer Baseball Game for Windows having more opportunities to see pitch counts — but it’s been well over 10 years since I placed the computer version (Windows 3 support!) and even more years, like 20 (+) since I played the board game version.

    I grew up playing Strat-O-Matic in the mid 1960s, even though I live in PA (the home of APBA Game Co.) I found out about ABPA from a PC Computer game that was sort of based on the a similar approach — from Delaware. Then I bought the game and the Master game, but never replayed the entire season. Closest I got was with Windows ABPA Baseball using the 1964 season Major League. The season manager and statistical capabilities did a nice job producing the box score, standings, and leader boards.

  3. Jack Beckman says:

    The pitch counts are very low, because the program in many cases is putting in minimums. APBA doesn’t usually have individual pitches (you usually get a hit or an out), but occasionally you get a result of “strike”, “foul” or “ball”. In other cases, iScore sees a strike out and adds 3 strikes (since I didn’t put in any) or a walk and adds 4 balls. Also, if it sees a hit, it’s adding a strike. So the pitch count stats aren’t really usable in this case – just the way APBA works, nothing to do with iScore. That’s also why the speckle charts are empty – I’m not recording that data because I don’t have it.

  4. Don Dubois says:

    I’m an APBA Baseball fanatic – from the 70’s. The original board game was GREAT!
    Just wish they produced a MAC version!

    Thanks for the info!