PAWTUCKET ‚Äď Bruce Guindon would like to set the record straight regarding his role as the Pawtucket Red Sox official scorer.
First off, the International League, not the PawSox, employs Guindon. Translation: He is not in the home team‚Äôs back pocket. The Pawtucket native and registered Interscholastic League football and hockey official is empowered and instructed to make the correct call, the right one.
If a call goes against the PawSox, Guindon can live with his decision. The same holds true if a judgment of his costs the opposing team. His job isn‚Äôt to make friends. It‚Äôs about enforcing the rules of the game as he deems fit.
In the wake of a perturbed David Ortiz interrupting Red Sox manager Terry Francona‚Äôs pregame press briefing with the media to voice his displeasure over Fenway Park official scorer Charles Scoggins reversing a call that took a RBI away from the Boston slugger, Guindon spoke over the weekend about the power he wields.
‚ÄúPeople hear these types of things [like the Ortiz‚Äô flap] and figure ‚Äėthe scorer, he‚Äôs a Red Sox or a PawSox scorer,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Guindon stated, sitting not too far from his perch inside the press box at McCoy Stadium. ‚ÄúMy job is not to be fair to the PawSox because they‚Äôre the home team. My job is to come in and be an unbiased judge.‚ÄĚ
Guindon has manned the scoring duties at McCoy since 1995 and served as a backup scorer at Fenway Park from 1998-2003. If all his years passing judgment have taught him anything, it‚Äôs the importance of open dialogue between himself and the manager and coaches he interacts with.
For instance, they may see something while sitting in the dugout, a la the ball hitting a sprinkler head, that Guindon can‚Äôt detect due to his high-above vantage point in the press box. If that‚Äôs the case, then Guindon is more than willing to listen.
‚ÄúThere are a lot of instances where I‚Äôll initiate the conversation with a coach or manager and ask ‚Äėwhat did you think on that play?‚Äô A lot of times they‚Äôll initiate the conversation with me,‚ÄĚ Guindon said. ‚ÄúIn all the years I‚Äôve been doing this, all the managers and coaches I‚Äôve worked with in Pawtucket have been great. They‚Äôre very helpful in giving you an opinion because ultimately, I want to get the call right. Sometimes it‚Äôs in their favor, other times it‚Äôs not.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs the message Guindon, also the deliverer of the final box score to both coaching staffs, conveys to players should they opt to question his motives or allegiances face-to-face.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve had a few players come up to me directly. At the beginning of the year, everybody wants to know about the guy walking through the clubhouse after the game. It doesn‚Äôt take them long to figure out that I‚Äôm the scorer,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThey get paid for positive numbers, so I can affect them positively and I can affect them negatively. When you do this kind of job, you can‚Äôt take it personal. They aren‚Äôt attacking me. They‚Äôre attacking the judgment of the scorer.‚ÄĚ
There are certain clues Guindon is on the lookout for as the play unfolds before he awards a hit or an error.
‚ÄúThere are certain body languages you can read. For instance, any time a player leaves his feet to get the ball, that‚Äôs always going to be ruled a hit,‚ÄĚ Guindon said. ‚ÄúThere are other things, say a slowly hit ball to any position in the field. If the fielder grabs the ball with his bare hand, what he‚Äôs basically telling you without communicating is that there‚Äôs going to be a close play. In those instances, I‚Äôm not saying that 100 percent of the time that it will be a hit, but more often than not it will be a hit because he‚Äôs saying ‚ÄėI only had one shot at it,‚Äô which is why he had to throw quickly.‚ÄĚ
Prior to the PawSox installing their in-house broadcast feed this season, Guindon found himself relying on what his eyes caught. Now he has the benefit of breaking the play down and viewing it through one of the several cameras positioned around the ballpark.
‚ÄúUsually when you see something in the minors, that‚Äôs your replay, that‚Äôs your memory, so you have to play it in your mind. So you do have to make a judgment ‚Ä¶ you can be as long or as short as you want, but in most cases you don‚Äôt have the benefit of replay,‚ÄĚ Guindon explained. ‚ÄúFortunately this year with the in-house production, it helps tremendously. It certainly gives you a better picture ‚Äď no pun intended ‚Äď to make a decision.
‚ÄúWhen you‚Äôre looking at the replay of the Ortiz play, it was clear the third base coach (Tim Bogar) was holding the runner (Kevin Youkilis) up when the fielder bobbled the ball. When the fielder bobbled the ball, the runner continued‚ÄĚ Guindon added. ‚ÄúThe fact (Ortiz) got two RBI is because there‚Äôs a lot of things happening during the play. The replay kind of slows it down for you.‚ÄĚ
Guindon was asked if he believed being seated closer to the field would work to his advantage. ‚ÄúI think you could be more accurate the first time if you were closer to the field than you are (in the press box). Prior to the in-house TV, I would think it would be beneficial to be closer, but now that there‚Äôs replay, you‚Äôre going to get most of your questions answered.‚ÄĚ
Youkilis told the Boston Herald last weekend that he expects Major League Baseball to step in and grant Ortiz the second RBI he seeks. Guindon recalled an instance during Game 4 of ‚Äô99 American League Division Series between the Red Sox and Indians in which he charged a Cleveland pitcher with a run on an occurrence that was ‚Äúa fielder‚Äôs choice double play that wasn‚Äôt a standard 6-4-3 one.‚ÄĚ
About a week later, Guindon received a call from Major League Baseball, as the run in-question was ultimately charged to another Cleveland pitcher.
‚ÄúThe bottom line is to get the call right,‚ÄĚ said Guindon, reinforcing the creed of his occupation.