July 2, 2013
As much as it pains me to publically admit my shortcomings as a computer programmer, I want to make everyone aware of a small flaw with myGameBalls.com. Normally, when I'm made aware of a software bug on the site, I'm able to write some code to correct the problem before most people are even aware the bug existed. In this case, however, the bug is virtually uncorrectable, at least for the foreseeable future.
I present to you the Ground Rule Double Glitch.
Before I talk about ground rule doubles, though, I need to give a short explanation for how the system keeps track of game home runs. When I built the site, I had two choices with regard to game home runs:
1) Allow members to "mark" balls as game home runs. Then to update the stats, the system just has to count the number of balls that are marked as game home runs.
2) Don't allow members to mark balls as game home runs. Instead, make the system smart enough to determine which balls are game home runs based on the data that was entered.
I chose #2. By using that method, I reasoned, people couldn't accidentally mark balls as game home runs that weren't really game home runs. Plus it would apply the exact same criteria for game home runs to all members across the board, ensuring that everyone was playing by the same rules so to speak.
So what criteria does the system use to determine what constitutes a game home run? First, the ball must have been snagged during the game as opposed to before or after the game. Second, the location in which the ball was snagged must be in fair territory. Third, the ball must be marked as "Hit" as opposed to Thrown, Found, etc (this was done primarily to differentiate game home runs from third out toss-ups, but also has the somewhat unintended consequence of discounting all toss-ups from being game home runs. People who want their tossed-up homers to count in the stats have merely been entering them as "Hit", and I'm OK with that).
So here's where the Ground Rule Double Glitch comes into play. If you happen to snag a ground rule double during the game, how do you enter that ball into the system? It was snagged during the game, not before or after the game. It was snagged in a section of the ballpark in fair territory. It was "Hit." So a ground rule double satisfies all the criteria for being a game home run, despite obviously NOT being a game home run!
I've tried to think of ways to correct the problem, and there are some potential solutions, but I don't particularly like any of the solutions. I could add a checkbox to mark balls as ground rule doubles, but I really don't want to do that. It takes up valuable screen space and would only be used about 0.000001% of the time. Another option would be to divide the "Hit" category into two subcategories: "Hit - HR" and "Hit - GRD." I don't like that one either because again, it adds a level of complexity that is only applicable in a very, very small number of cases.
If you haven't noticed, I prefer to keep things simple as much as I possibly can. A ton of websites have essentially ruined themselves because they continually made things more and more complex until it was basically unusable to the average user. I really don't want that to happen with myGameBalls.com, which is why I tend to resist adding complexity that isn't completely neccessary.
So for now I've decided to just allow the Ground Rule Double Glitch to live on. If my memory serves me correctly, Tim Anderson is the only ballhawk to have snagged an in-game ground rule double since I launched the site in 2009, so it's really not that big of an issue.
What's the workaround for the Ground Rule Double Glitch? Instead of marking the ball as "Hit" just select "Unknown" and add a note about it being a ground rule double. Not ideal, but it gets the job done.
And as a favor to me, just try to avoid snagging in-game ground rule doubles altogether. They make me look bad.
Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.