Major League Baseball EMBROILED In Fussy And Arcane Scoring Scandal

Angels play-by-play guy Wayne Randazzo began his broadcast of Saturday night’s Red Sox–Angels game with some stern words: “In Major League Baseball, where there is negative story after negative story, scandal after scandal. A fiasco in Oakland. You have these ridiculous-looking jerseys. You have the MLBPA challenging the league about the pitch clock today, because of constant pitcher injuries. Not to mention your global superstar is embroiled in a betting scandal.” The pitiful state of Major League Baseball now established, Randazzo tacked on the latest calamity: A mysterious scoring change made on Friday night.

Angels first baseman Nolan Schanuel debuted with the team last September, only 40 days after being drafted. Though he hasn’t hit for much power yet, he has had no trouble getting on base. When Schanuel drew a walk in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game, he likely trotted down to first base thinking he’d just extended his on-base streak to 36 games, one of the longest such streaks to begin a major-league career. But by night’s end he would learn he had done no such thing. His streak was over! It had been over all week!

Add this to the scourge of see-through uniforms and degenerate interpreters, Randazzo said. On March 30, against the Orioles, Schanuel reached first base on this play:

Initially, the game’s official scorer ruled it a single for Schanuel and a missed-catch error for 6-foot-4 pitcher Michael Baumann, who couldn’t get down to glove the low throw first baseman Ryan Mountcastle made after a fine diving stop. The error allowed Brandon Drury to reach third base from first, and brought in a run. The following day, the play had become a single for Schanuel and throwing error on Mountcastle.

MLB posts all scoring changes on its website, and we devoted scoring sickos can head over to the unaffiliated MLB Scoring Changes account for a clip and explanation every time a change comes down from on high. Changes happen for one of three reasons: the game’s official scorer has changed one of their own rulings within 24 hours of the game’s conclusion; Elias Sports Bureau, MLB’s official statistician, has noticed a misapplied rule; or a player or team has appealed a decision to MLB’s scoring committee. The appeals process helps defuse the tension that once existed between players and scorers; in the days when one of the team’s beat writers acted as the official scorer, players sometimes challenged reporters to fights or tried to charge the press box mid-game.

Then the play changed again on April 6, a week after the game. MLB charged Baumann with a missed-catch error once again, but this time, there was no hit. Schanuel had reached solely on the error, and (though he was “on base,” technically) his on-base streak had ended.

My hero at the MLB Scoring Changes account notes that the official scorer and Elias Sports Bureau tend to make their scoring changes quickly, so a change made a whole week after the game suggests the Orioles or one of the fielders involved appealed to the committee. This 2023 Baltimore Banner story about a different Oriole tells us a little more about the appeals process: Ryan O’Hearn, believing he should have been credited with a hit on a play that was ruled an error, simply filled out a questionnaire through the MLBPA app, and had the play reviewed by a committee of four former players and one official scorer. (An MLB spokesperson quoted in the story provided some data that showed about a quarter of appeals are successful.)

So who appealed the play? It was either the Orioles, Baumann, or Mountcastle. The Orioles ostensibly wouldn’t care which of Mountcastle or Baumann was charged with an error, though maybe they or Baumann wanted the hit looked at. I choose to believe the appeals process was initiated by someone intent on defending his own honor no matter the cost to a teammate. Congratulations, Ryan Mountcastle, on your hard-won assist.

However, the person with the most at stake and no avenue for appeal would appear to be Schanuel, who was really relying on that streak to distract from the rest of his season: he has hit one home run and is now rocking a .091 batting average. He should consider challenging the official scorer to a fight.

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