As I sat in front of the lonely reflection of my computer screen formatting five youth softball games for publication, I marveled at what great hitters we are producing here in the area.
From the looks of things, only one of the games I worked on had any decent pitching in it — that would have been the one in which only 44 hits were produced by the two teams — while batters reached base with clean hits 72, 67, 61 and 81 times respectively in the other four.
And while the person who sent us these games did a pretty nice job formatting them for us, there are those who still aren’t able to look at the little league/softball game reports that appear daily in the Times-News and duplicate the format we require for publication.
Thus, brought back by unpopular necessity, here is the semi-annual How To Report A Little League Game To The Newspaper help guide.
• If you prefer to call us with your score, great. If you prefer to e-mail us with your score, great. We just ask that you follow our format.
• For beginners, tabs. There are no tabs. There are no tabs in little league baseball because when there are, somebody has to take them out, and that keeps the train from running on time. So we ask that you please send your reports to us in paragraph form, tab-free. There are no tabs.
• Please, or I should say PLEASE, don’t use all capital letters. As you know, we are very sensitive here in the Times-News sports department and when we open an e-mail and see nothing but capital letters JUMPING OUT TO US, it feels as though YOU ARE YELLING AT US! Plus, we then have to lower-case all of the caps that aren’t supposed to be caps.
• When five or six players have 7 singles apiece in a game, please don’t list the five or six players and put “7 singles each.” We ask that you list each player as having 7 singles. A kid, after all, likes to see his or her accomplishment beside his or her name, so that’s how we do it.
• With this in mind, please provide us with first and last names, spelled correctly, of course (we publish what we receive). When little Jack or young Diane get a couple of base knocks, we’d like to see Jack and Diane’s last names, and we’re pretty sure Jack and Diane would too. Not to mention Grandma and Grandpa.
• Semi-colons can produce problems for us all, in all walks of everyday life. Please put your semi-colons behind each player’s complete line, not between each player’s different hits, and not behind his or her name. And, oh, yes, please don’t capitalize Single, Double, Triple or Home Run. It’s a single, a double, a triple and a home run.
With this in mind, had winning manager Clint Hurdle phoned or e-mailed Friday’s Pirates-Cubs game to us, this is what it would have looked like the following day:
Pirates 2, Cubs 0
WP - Francisco Liriano LP - Travis Wood
Pirates: Jordy Mercer 2 doubles; Russell Martin single, double.
You’ll note there are no Cubs hitters listed, even though they had five hits in the game, which brings us to what we in the business like to call the single single. We're delighted when a youngster gets his or her first hit, but due to space and time restrictions, we are unable to list it if that hit is a single. We will publish a player's game record if he has at least two hits, or an extra-base hit. As for pitchers, if a youngster has recorded at least 10 strikeouts in the game, we will note that; or if he or she has pitched a no-hitter or a one-hitter, we will report that as well.
Please be sure to include the name of the league your teams are part of, including their age division. We still have too many floaters out there.
Also, there is only one winning pitcher and one losing pitcher in each game. And we still find it impossible to believe a child will be scarred for life if he or she is listed in the newspaper for being the losing pitcher, which brings us to fake scores. Fake scores are on the rise, particularly in the older leagues.
Me: Score of your game?
Coach: We won 18-2, but I’m just going to say 10-2.
Me: (Knowing the answer, but asking anyway to give the guy the chance to say what a swell egg he is): Why?
Coach: I don’t want the kids on the other team to be embarrassed.
Me: You didn’t seem to mind during that 11-run first.
Coach: That’s baseball.
Me: So is reporting the correct score.
I’ve had coaches report a score I didn’t know was fake until they gave me the correct linescore.
Me: That’s 15 runs. You said the score was 9-0.
Him: Oh, yeah. We actually won 15-0, but (winding up for the self-pat on the back) I don’t want the kids on the other team to be embarrassed. So, tell you what. Just make up a linescore so it adds up to nine instead of 15.
Me: Should I keep the 24 hits, or make it something less embarrassing like, say, 15 hits?
Coach: Well, I don’t want to cheat our kids.
Me: No, of course not.
Look, if you want to lie to me that’s perfectly fine. I’m good with it. Some of my best relationships were built on lies. (“What do you mean you’re not an astronaut? Well, if you tell anybody else I’ll have to dump you.”)
However, even my bounds of stupidity end when you tell me you’re about to lie to me and then expect me to go along with it. So please just tell the truth and give us the correct scores, okay?
Thanks to everybody for taking the time to report the scores. We do appreciate your help.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at email@example.com.