I’m having fun listening to the commentators for Major League Baseball. I spend most of my time following the Red Sox, so Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy have become part of our family. Don is a little bit more professional as a commentator, and Jerry is a retired Red Sox second baseman. Their approach to the game is quite different, and they love to argue about their perceptions of the enterprise. They declare that they don’t like each other, but it’s clear that there is a real affection between them.
I love to hear them say things like “He flied out to center field.” For the uninitiated, that means that the batter hit a high ball into center field. He hit a fly ball, in baseball lingo.
I always ask, to the frustration of my wife, “Why didn’t he say he ‘flew” to center field?” After all, the past tense of fly is flew…not flied You wouldn’t say “We flied to London last month.”
But, when you think about it, you wouldn’t say “He trew to understand it, but couldn’t grasp the concept.” You would say,”He tried….” It’s the past tense of try.
The point is that baseball has a lingo…and it doesn’t depend upon pure English patterns of grammar. Lingo is “in talk” which is understood in the realm of a particular field. In this case…baseball fans. To those who never listen to a game, it must seem weird.
After all, what is “inadvertent defensiveness?” We heard that a lot last night when the Red and White Sox were playing. It seems to mean that a team or player is doing something that is effective in playing against an offensive action by the team at bat, but wasn’t really planned. It just happened. And was good.
And what in the world is a “cycle” or “natural cycle?” That means that a batter hits a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. If they are in that order, it’s a natural cycle. Isn’t that exciting? I actually saw two of them last week, and they are as rare as an albino robin in the back yard.
There are all kinds of published books out there which help decipher the jargon of Baseball. * And I suspect you could write a new one every year as the “inside language” of the game changes with the times.
But you get the point. The jargon is confusing, but fun. I like to get the meaning of one of the strange phrases and then use it over and over again as if I have always known it. Real baseball gurus around me just shake their heads and pretend they don’t hear me.
Truly, I never thought I’d be a baseball nut. But I am. I live in the Red Sox Nation, and, despite their terrible year this year, I love every minute of it.
Whoops! Pull out the tarps. It’s going to be one of those days.
Photo Credit: Kyle Krause