DEFY S. McQUAID! #76: Inning and Outings

The Question

Adam asks:

Who decided it was a good idea, in baseball, to denote portions of innings pitched as “.1″ and “.2″? Some broadcasts use the proper notation of 1/3 and 2/3 innings pitched, but some—sometimes both are used on the same game!—use the mixed up .1 and .2. What’s a tenth of an inning anyway? Clearly one out is one third of an inning pitched.

The Answer

This is an interesting question. Researching the answer was difficult – yet, an answer, there is. (says Yoda).

Here’s the deal. Basically, when you see something like “3.2” in the inning measurement system, it is in BASE 3 to the right of the decimal point, and BASE 10 to the left. Since the innings are measured in thirds (as you point out), the base for a percentage of an inning measurement is 3. Hence, “3.1” really means “3 1/3”.

Who thought of this? Someone constrained by their technology, someone who just could display fractions on their television set, someone like you and me, Adam. Technology advances, so this nomenclature is no longer “required” by the properties of the display, but, like a bad penny, it keeps turning up. When you see both types of measurement in the same game, that’s when you know that not all displays are running on the same software, or that you’ve got someone running one of the displays who subscribes to the “old school” measurement.

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