Hung Out To Dry

“If you’re keeping score Venable will hit in the eighth spot in the batting order …. no that can’t be right.”

In the seventh inning of Saturday’s game against Arizona, with the Padres comfortably ahead 9-3, manager Buddy Black made a number of substitutions.  Will Venable entered the game to play center.  Chris Denorfia moved from center to right.  Tim Stauffer came in to relieve Andrew Cashner.  The substitutions caused companion changes to the lineup.  Stauffer took Jesus Guzman‘s spot in the order (5th) because Guzzy had made the last out of the top half.  Venable, therefore, entered in the pitcher’s spot.

So far so good.

While relaying the changes, Dick Enberg initially reported Venable entering in the 8-hole.  He realized pretty quickly something was amiss.

“The scoreboard is wrong.”


Every ballpark displays the lineup consistently, and yet differently.  When I was a kid attending games at Dodger Stadium there were no player names on the scoreboard.  The lineups there were the uniform number of the player above his position for that game.  For example (and please ignore the dot), this

  • 15  18     8  10    6  16  12   5  20
  • 2B  SS  RF  3B  1B  CF  LF  C   P

was how they displayed the Dodger lineup. Petco Park has the lineups on the LF scoreboard, above the line score, with player number/name/position displayed, and a helpful asterisk to show you who is hitting now/next as appropriate.

“He’ll hit in the ninth spot.”

American League ballparks show both the batting order and who’s pitching.  The pitcher does not hit, but it’s pertinent information.  Typically the pitcher currently in the game is right below the #9 hitter.  This way fans can keep track of the lineup and who’s pitching without, I suppose, having to resort to keeping score or really paying attention.

In Arizona, apparently that’s how it’s done.  On Saturday this fact conspired to befuddle Dick Enberg.

They have the lineup card here on the big scoreboard with 10 Padres batting.”

AZ scoreboard, 27 jul 13 B7

Stauffer is pretty clearly hitting fifth in the batting order.  Venable, as Dick correctly figured out, should be hitting ninth.  Stauffer’s name appearing at the bottom caused consternation from the lead Padres play-by-play man, even though it has no batting information (Venable is 0-0 because he hasn’t had an official AB yet) displayed next to his name and there’s a pitch count there.

“Now folks we’re sitting on possible history. Stauffer not in the ninth spot; they’re assuming he won’t get a chance to hit apparently.”

The weekend trip to Phoenix wasn’t Enberg’s first trip to the ballpark.  San Diego plays 9 or 10 games there every year.  It’s a little incredible that Enberg hadn’t noticed this scoreboard nuance before the bottom of the seventh Saturday night.  After watching that ‘Scorekeeping 101’ broadcast I can’t believe Dick would trust anything other than his score book to tell him what the current state of the game is – especially the lineups.  His confusion was surprising.

After that last comment, this little ‘controversy’ wasn’t mentioned again.  Dick and Mark Grant moved on to discussing the lack of singles to that point (all 9 hits had been for extra bases) and the game in progress after that.  No one went back to explain or correct what had caused the confusion.

As Enberg kept talking about this on-air, it seemed odd to me that Grant wouldn’t try to help his partner out.  I can understand not wanting to embarrass the man on air, but he’d already put his foot in his mouth so there really wasn’t anything more to be gained by letting him twist in the wind.  Grant was noticeably silent.  He didn’t rejoin the conversation until that extra base hit discussion started.  The other odd thing about this was FSSD showing the scorecard on-air for better than 12 seconds.  I’m guessing they wanted to show the audience what Enberg was talking about; they lingered there for a long while.  He had made a mistake; why draw further attention to it?

Enberg does a lot of things during the broadcast that cause us to shake our heads.  “Warning Path.”  “Padre at every pillow.” Excitement on great plays by the opposition (sometimes more so than on great plays for the home team).  His call on Denorfia’s HR earlier in this particular game is legendary for it’s lack of emotion.  That’s all part of how he calls a game, for better or for worse.  Can’t fix that.  Here, he made a mistake on how the lineup had changed.  No one came to his aid.

That struck me as sad.  Everyone makes mistakes.  This one was correctable.  Yet no one came forward to help him out.  Seemed to me his FSSD compadres hung him out to dry.


Trivia contest answers:  1.  Ollie Brown missed the cycle by a triple, 4/22/1969.  2.  The nine so far who needed a single for the cycle are Dave Roberts, Broderick Perkins, Kevin McReynolds, Tony Gwynn, Steve Finley, Brian Giles, Mike Cameron, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Adrian Gonzalez.  Our winners were @itsdis and @CT2SD – congratulations!

This was not intended to make fun of Enberg; quite the contrary.  He got no help here.

I’ve been posting sporadically about the Padres since 2009.  Prattling on about baseball since Dick Enberg called games for the Angels.  Thanks to all of you brave enough to follow me on Twitter.

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  • I guess there’s a fine line between helping a fellow broadcaster out and calling attention to the mistake in question. I’m not a big fan of Enberg but nobody’s perfect – help the guy out!