PAWTUCKET – 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’s 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’t to make friends. It’s 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’s 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.
“People hear these types of things [like the Ortiz’ flap] and figure ‘the scorer, he’s a Red Sox or a PawSox scorer,’” Guindon stated, sitting not too far from his perch inside the press box at McCoy Stadium. “My job is not to be fair to the PawSox because they’re the home team. My job is to come in and be an unbiased judge.”
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’s 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’t detect due to his high-above vantage point in the press box. If that’s the case, then Guindon is more than willing to listen.
“There are a lot of instances where I’ll initiate the conversation with a coach or manager and ask ‘what did you think on that play?’ A lot of times they’ll initiate the conversation with me,” Guindon said. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, all the managers and coaches I’ve worked with in Pawtucket have been great. They’re very helpful in giving you an opinion because ultimately, I want to get the call right. Sometimes it’s in their favor, other times it’s not.”
That’s 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.
“I’ve 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’t take them long to figure out that I’m the scorer,” he said. “They 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’t take it personal. They aren’t attacking me. They’re attacking the judgment of the scorer.”
There are certain clues Guindon is on the lookout for as the play unfolds before he awards a hit or an error.
“There are certain body languages you can read. For instance, any time a player leaves his feet to get the ball, that’s always going to be ruled a hit,” Guindon said. “There 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’s basically telling you without communicating is that there’s going to be a close play. In those instances, I’m 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’s saying ‘I only had one shot at it,’ which is why he had to throw quickly.”
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.
“Usually when you see something in the minors, that’s your replay, that’s your memory, so you have to play it in your mind. So you do have to make a judgment … you can be as long or as short as you want, but in most cases you don’t have the benefit of replay,” Guindon explained. “Fortunately this year with the in-house production, it helps tremendously. It certainly gives you a better picture – no pun intended – to make a decision.
“When you’re 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” Guindon added. “The fact (Ortiz) got two RBI is because there’s a lot of things happening during the play. The replay kind of slows it down for you.”
Guindon was asked if he believed being seated closer to the field would work to his advantage. “I 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’s replay, you’re going to get most of your questions answered.”
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 ’99 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 “a fielder’s choice double play that wasn’t a standard 6-4-3 one.”
About a week later, Guindon received a call from Major League Baseball, as the run in-question was ultimately charged to another Cleveland pitcher.
“The bottom line is to get the call right,” said Guindon, reinforcing the creed of his occupation.