THE BLOG

Another Call to Rewrite Baseball's Record Books

07/24/2014 12:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2014

Not to mention redesign the score books.

You hear a number of sports pundits clamoring about throwing out the records of those who have used performance enhancing drugs. But really, everyone knows how impractical that would be. What would become of the record books? Since baseball is a zero sum game, if you take away a home run from a batter, you have to deduct it from the pitcher who gave it up as well. And what would you do about games won by home runs? Would they become losses? Would pennants and championships similarly have to change?

I got a similar vibe after reading Tom Verducci's article on the effects of defensive shifts in Sports Illustrated. Verducci's concern is how this impacts on offensive production but for me there's another consideration.

I was at the July 20 game between the Yankees and Reds with my daughter and couple of friends. Rachel used to manage her high school baseball team and one of her responsibilities was to keep the scorebook, so she knows what she's doing. But we were stymied when the Yankees went into a shift in which shortstop Derek Jeter moved over -- relatively speaking -- to third, while third baseman Kelly Johnson joined Brian Roberts (second base) and Mark Teixeira (first) on the right side of the bag.

One question is why wouldn't they just slide Jeter over to his left, but the much bigger issue is how do you adequately represent the situation in which the ball is hit to the nominal third baseman who is now playing what should be second base as he makes the play to first? In the books it would be scored "5-3"; you would never know the fielder was nowhere near third.

There are probably fielding metrics now under development to account for shifts, but how will this translate to casual use? Asterisks are popular; perhaps there will be some designation in the box score noting these anomalies. But to paraphrase Sheriff Brody in Jaws, we're gonna need a bigger scorecard.