The baseball season has reached its midway point, so it's time once again for one of the history-minded sport's traditional rites of passage.
Not the All-Star Game, which celebrates its 80th anniversary Tuesday night (but which has lost much of its former sparkle in the era of interleague play, free agency, and eroded league identity and loyalty—as its plummeting television ratings attest). I mean that it's time for yet another report about the demise of the practice of keeping score at the ballpark.
Devised by pioneering statistician Henry Chadwick in the midst of the Civil War, its death was prominently featured on the first sports page of The New York Times a few days ago. "Who's Keeping Score? Not So Many," Times asked (and answered). After all, the Times's Harvey Araton wrote,
Today's fans go to ballparks that feature upscale restaurants, play areas for children and other attractions besides the game. Digital apps aside, there are also e-mails and social media to check, photos and videos to shoot, phone calls to make.
What chance, after all, does a pencil and paper—talk about obsolete technology—have against such competition? As a scorecard vendor Araton quoted said, "It's a dying thing." And what could be more crushing than the verdict of one completely uninterested 20-something fan: "It's my dad's thing"?