The Rogue’s Baseball Index was a (non-alphabetical) dictionary of the baseball terms that they didn’t teach you in Little League, and that you won’t hear about in the director’s commentary to Angels in the Outfield. Baseball as the fans know it, baseball like you’ve already thought it. We are reproducing the index on this site so that future generations may gleam wisdom from it.
The work is by Ted Walker, Eric Nusbaum, Carson Cistulli, and a variety of other fine baseball and literary minds. The art is by Mark Penxa.
The Joe Mauer
We are fortunate as mere mortals that The Joe Mauer has graced this plane of existence with his glowing presence. His swing is flawless, his morals are sound, and his bone structure is immaculate. He dates beauty queens, he wins batting titles. The Joe Mauer is ideal. The Joe Mauer is America.
Notable Joe Mauers include:
- Joe Mauer
- Joe Dimaggio
The Baseball Annual
The Baseball Annual represents the height not only of baseballing analysis, but all known literature. The Odyssey? Never heard of it. Madame Bovary? More like Madame Boringry. Just as winter shows the first signs of breaking, The Baseball Annual appears — on the shelves of local bookstores, in our mailboxes — with hundreds of pages of analysis written almost exclusively by pale, bespectacled men. In its pages, we’re invited to celebrate Player X’s breakout potential, but cautioned against Player Y’s “old man skills.” We’re introduced to a glistening future, even as we’re asked to temper our expectations about its excellence. Like American poet Walt Whitman, The Baseball Annual asks, “Do I contradict myself?” And answers without shame: “Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large and most certainly contain multitudes.”
Some coaches, especially the old timers, are round up top and knobbly through the knees. This disproportion is known as Chicken Legs, and it is accentuated by the age-old tradition of baseball coaches wearing the same outfit as their young charges. Chicken Legs, in other words, is what happens when you dress up an old man in clothes that were designed for 23-year-old elite athletes. Note: Chicken legs are often also bowlegs.
1. A widely used nickname for American author Michael Lewis, Moneyballs combines a number of sly references in one puerile swoop. The term alludes simultaneously to (a) Lewis’s magnum opus, (b) the male anatomy — particularly, the balls part of it, and (c) Lewis’s own background in the financial sector, as chronicled in his first book Liar’s Poker. Finally, the term echoes faintly “”Golden Balls””, the nickname that Britons have given to footballer David Beckham (after the Ballon d’Or, which, curiously, Beckham has never won).
2. A condition suffered by those of a sabermetric bent when they are forced to contend with statistical luddites: After his unfortunate encounter with Joe Morgan in the hotel lobby, writer Dave Cameron was stricken by a severe case of Moneyballs. He should be released from the hospital post-haste.
“Elbow Up is that piece of conventional wisdom that refuses to die. It is a relic, a long-disproved catchphrase for parents and coaches to shout at unsuspecting children through chain-link fences and batting-cage nets. But like the game itself, the phrase carries on, its origins obscured by time, its original meaning clouded by use and misuse. Elbow Up is the Santa Claus of baseball. To accept that a ball can in fact be struck out of a lowered-elbow stance, that these words so entrenched by well-meaning adults are not in fact gospel, is to grow up.
Creampuff (n), Kr-eem-puff: The baseball player equipped with all necessary tools aside from a functioning body. Clearly meant to play baseball by virtue of his status as a major leaguer, a level not reached by just any dope, his nemesis is the very vessel that got him there. Creaks, cracks, aches and breaks accompany the Creampuff around the bases as often as his cleats. For him, the infield hit isn’t a hustle play, it’s a stupid move that taunts a heretofore healthy hamstring. He knows it, the manager knows it, the hamstring knows it, and you do too.
Notable Creampuffs include:
This entry was provided by Kris Liakos, philosopher and proprietor of Walkoff Walk.
Like Neurofibromatosis or Arglwydd, Zduriencik belongs to that class of phenomenon which both (a) exerts great power over us without our knowledge and (b) is borderline impossible to pronounce. One who possesses Zduriencik has the ability to disorient his trading partners in the midst of negotiations, thus rendering them as putty in his hands. The term is derived from the surname of Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, who, before gaining notoriety for his acquisitions of Cliff Lee and Milton Bradley in the 2009-10 offseason, purchased Manhattan from the Canarsee Indian tribe for a mere US$24. (Note, 2013: The power of Zduriencik may fade over time.)
Small Sample Size
Small Sample Size is a principle used by sabermetrically oriented baseball bloggers to denote the inconclusive predictive nature of a body of data, given the principles of probability. Small Sample Size is also what many bloggers point out just before ignoring it.
The Cardboard God
An obscure baseball player whose significance on the field is greatly outweighed by his importance to the undiscriminating children who grow up admiring him, in blissful ignorance, during the small window of his “prime.” He is a god in cardboard only.
Term and definition derived from the explorations of one Joshua A. Wilker, foremost expert in the field of the Cardboard Gods.
- Mark Lemke
- Glenn Davis
- Kevin Romine
- Randy Kutcher
- Sam Horn
- Mark Bellhorn
- B.J. Surhoff
- Raul Mondesi
- John Jaha
- Tom Candiotti
The J.V. Ricciardi
A day trader in the truest sense, he doesn’t care who wins the game unless one of his god damn fantasy pitchers is on the mound. He thinks he’s the next Theo Epstein. Last year, Nelson Cruz was “his boy.” Next year, he might not feel that way.
Signs that you are the J.V. Ricciardi:
- Yahoo Fantasy Sports is your homepage.
- When Matt Wieters comes to bat in any situation you tell somebody in the near vicinity “he’s my keeper.”
- You’ve uttered the words “Dude, have you read Moneyball?” at any time in the last three years.
The Raines Delay
The Raines Delay is a phenomenon in which a player who is eligible for the Hall of Fame does not get voted in, despite the uproar of sabermetrically inclined bloggers and sports writers. The old school Hall of Fame voters, like The George Will, are too busy watching Ken Burns’ Baseball and charting batting averages into their ledgers in pencil to realize the value of these on base wizards and strikeout masters.
The Raines Delay refers to the requisite time that it takes for the sabermetricians to gain ground. Typically this time period corresponds to the time it takes the traditional thinkers to forget how un-Hall of Fame-like the player in question seemed during his actual career.
One More Cup of Coffee
One More Cup of Coffee is the final go-round of the weather-beaten veteran*. In these last days, he no longer seeks glory, he just hangs on, content to play a minor role. Once he was a star. He yanked home runs down the line, he blew fastballs by sluggers. Now his body, unaided by performance enhancers, aches terribly. To pinch hit in a tie game, to face just one lefty in the seventh inning, these are enough to sustain his spirit. Just one more cup of coffee before I go…
Notable One More Cups of Coffee:
- Ken Griffey Jr, 2010
- Steve Carlton after the Phillies
- Rickey Henderson’s 2005 comeback with the San Diego Surf Dawgs
- The Rolling Stones, 1981-Present
- Almost any Oakland DH
*Please note that by One More Cup of Coffee, a player could in fact mean two, three, or even seven more cups of coffee.
The UnManny Valley
The UnManny Valley tracks the emotional cycle of a baseball fan as he/she reacts to the erratic behavior of a superstar player. As said player’s behavior crosses the threshold from normal, to borderline fictional, to so consistently insane that it becomes normal again, the fan’s emotions track from neutral, to disgusted and unnerved by the behavior, to ultimately, a state of numbed acceptance.
The term is derived from Masahiro Mori’s robotics hypothesis the Uncanny Valley, which holds that people are repulsed by robots and other reproductions of humans, and that this repulsion can be traced with a graph showing a dip in positive human reaction. The UnManny Valley is named for Manny Ramirez whose emergence on its far end led to that famed catchphrase of bemused tolerance, “Manny being Manny.”
Some Kind of Fermented Chicken Drink
A term used to describe the dire state of a baseball fan’s beer. Some Kind of Fermented Chicken Drink is in reference to an episode of the sitcom “Seinfeld” called “The Muffin Tops,” which ran in the eighth season of the series. In the episode, George Costanza loses his job with the New York Yankees through a series of mishaps and miscommunications between George, NY Yankee’s owner George Steinbrenner, and the owner of Tyler Chicken. Mr. Steinbrenner trades George to Tyler Chicken in exchange for Mr. Tyler converting all Yankee Stadium concession stands to chicken-exclusive vendors. George is traded to Tyler Chicken for what amounts to “Some kind of fermented Chicken drink.”
In Rogue terminology, a Fan will describe a flat, warm, undesirable beer as “Some kind of fermented chicken drink.” This drink is barely drinkable, and usually means the fan would like a fresher one. This term can be used either at home or at the stadium.
Examples of Usage:
Buddy 1- “Man, this double header is taking forever, what you drinkin’ there?”
Buddy 2- “Some kind of fermented chicken drink. Call the beer guy over when you see him.”
Buddy 1- “You still holdin onto that drink, you got that in the third innin’.”
Buddy 2- “It’s like some kind of fermented chicken drink. But, it’s all I can have, I gotta drive home.”
This term was written by Brett Cihon
The Crap Cap
This is the cap you wear when doing crappy, sweaty dirty jobs that will otherwise ruin your good cap, such as changing the oil, running a chain saw, cleaning a sludge pit, caring for a baby, nursing lepers, cleaning up after a dog with a stomach virus, etc.
The Crap Cap is a cheap, cotton, non-regulation cap of a) a team neither you nor anyone else really cares about [see Padres, San Diego], b) a team you detest beyond all logic that you wear solely for purposes of defilement [New York residents, see Red Sox, Boston. New England residents, see Yankees, New York. All other residents of the continental U.S., see both], or c) your favorite team, but given away as a promotional item, usually with a cardboard brim or in a horrific painter’s cap edition, also often sporting the corporate logo of the company that thought it was good marketing to give away a cheap-ass, lousy cap.
The Crap Cap was written (and we imagine regularly worn) by Glenn Stout, author and series editor of the Best American Sports Writing.
The Dynamic Demo
The Dynamic Demo is that feature of the MLB Network and Baseball Tonight in which former players loiter with broadcasters on an oddly undersized simulated baseball diamond. They demonstrate the little things that happen in a game, like turning a double play or putting down a sac bunt. They also do a lot of patting of the gloves while someone else explains, for example, how to lead off of first base.
The Dynamic Demo has its roots in a similar practice on NFL Sunday broadcasts. Unique to the latest incarnation is that the MLB Network guys often change into actual workout gear, and they hit wiffle balls around the studio. Also, Terry Bradshaw never dunked a perfectly good football into a bucket of water, then smeared it with shaving cream and hung it from the wall.
The One Stat to Rule Them All
In baseball analysis, as in many rational pursuits, there is the search for a single formula that distills and explains the nature of the whole enterprise in one compact form. The One Stat to Rule Them All would, with a single figure, describe who was the best and the worst baseball player, taking every iteration of the game into account, and leaving no room for debate, no logical calculation unturned. With the discovery of this fabled statistic, the sabermetric baseball conversation on the Internet would fall dormant, and everyone would go back to talking about Vin Scully.
Like Elbow Up, Look Alive (or the variant Look Alive Out There) is a phrase that is almost always shouted — and then, almost always in the direction of unsuspecting youths. The term actually works on two levels: first, and most immediately, as a plea from parents and coaches that the aforementioned youths might fortheloveofgod at least pretend like they’re playing a baseball game; and second, as a tacit recognition of a dark but obvious truth — namely, that children bear a greater resemblance to the undead than we’d sometimes care to admit.
The Perfect Name
A pitcher throwing a perfect game is the pinnacle of efficiency and effectiveness. So, too, is The Perfect Name, which is the culmination of that mythical journey into and out of the psychic abyss, in which the hero returns clutching that vaunted trophy: the perfect name for this year’s fantasy baseball team.
Your fantasy baseball team’s Perfect Name should have some but hopefully all of the following characteristics:
a) Autobiography. This could mean, for example, employing the name of the street you grew up on, the gentrifying neighborhood you just moved into, or your favorite strain of marijuana.
b) Timeliness. Refer to the latest news, and for more impact go with blights on the game. If Mark McGwire just admitted to using steroids, then your team name needs to refer to the size of his balls.
c) Pun. A relief pitcher’s name tweaked to sound like an STD will suffice
d) Lyricism. The team name should roll off of the tongue with the ease and grace of a grandmother swearing at Yankees Stadium. At least consider iambic pentameter.
e) Anything that shits on Bud Selig.
For numerous examples, please see the Annual Fake Teams Best Fantasy Baseball Names Contest. Past winning names include When You Lose Your Haren You Find Ubaldo, Itchy Buchholz, Schoenweiss and the Seven Dwarves, and I’m Bill James, Bitch!
Custer’s Last Transaction
The final, desperate maneuver of a baseball executive whose miscalculations and bad assumptions have left his franchise surrounded by ruthless warriors bent on its destruction. This inevitable blockbuster trade or free agent signing has no positive impact and only serves to momentarily delay said General Manager’s dismissal while further etching his legacy of ineptitude into the minds of future generations.
- Billy Bavasi trades The Tacoma Rainiers for Erik Bedard
Trusting the Process
Trusting the Process is to baseball what jumping the shark is to television — which is to say, the point at which one’s suspension of disbelief is challenged to such a degree as to reveal the absurdity of life and cruel randomness of the universe. The term is most famously attributed to Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, who, after a series of mystifying acquisitions, spoke to the Royals faithful, saying, “Let’s just trust the process. If other people don’t want to trust the process, that’s fine. If other people want to abandon the process, then abandon it. I’m not abandoning the process. I believe in the process.”
The Pitchers and Catchers Report Report
For baseball-starved fans in early spring, no news is still news, especially on the day that players actually arrive at their spring training site. Therefore, sports reporters nationwide, from the big-time Beatniks to the local scribes, head to Florida and Arizona to file their annual reports about pitchers and catchers reporting.
In this day and age, most newsworthy stories have already been beaten to death in the off-season sandblasting, so The Pitchers and Catchers Report Reports usually amounts to sun-drenched rehashes of stale trade news and mundane injury updates.
These reports include thrilling footage of such momentous events as:
- Baseball players sitting on the ground stretching their legs
- People walking into buildings
- Chicken-legged coaches standing in circles and talking to one another
The Shadow Legend
The Shadow Legend is a ballplayer whose early on-field exploits are so heroic that they become unsustainable. He has the capacity to draw out superlatives from the broadcast booth and expletives from the opposing dugout. With a twirl of his bat, a kick of his front leg, a knowing grin, he wraps the collective imagination around his fingertip. Then real life gets in the way.
When transcendence is expected, mere excellence becomes unsatisfying. He gets hurt. He slumps. He drinks too much. The Shadow Legend is one hell of a ballplayer. But he is never able to hit that 800th home run, strike out that 6,000th batter. He is never able to escape the shadow of his own mythology.
“One of the best ever,” fans might say about the shadow legend, but imagine if he managed to stay…”
The Shadow Legend is Tony Conigliaro, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez, Herb Score, Dick Allen, Rocky Colavito.
Pie in the Face
1. The inevitable headline of the Chicago Sun-Times‘ sporting section were former Cub prospect and current Baltimore Oriole Felix Pie (pronounced PEE-ay) to record the game-winning hit in a contest against his former club.
2. A blanket term to denote the unwavering tendency of American dailies to shoehorn a pun into a headline if at all possible. Alternatives include either (a) Jeters Never Prosper, were Derek Jeter ever to be caught using steroids, or (b) Mo Better Blues, were historically great closer Mariano Rivera ever to sign with the Kansas City Royals.
The Cycle Paradox
Hitting for the cycle is the pinnacle of cool, satisfying one’s urge to see disparate objects align unexpectedly, like the planets into a prophecy-fulfilling doom machine or a poker hand into a straight flush. But unlike, say, a straight flush, hitting for the cycle is not actually the best possible outcome. It would be far more fortuitous for a slugger to hit four home runs. Or four triples, or four doubles, or three home runs and a triple, or two home runs and a triple, et cetera. Nonetheless, despite the extensive room for improvement, the cycle maintains its place in lore, and the most modest fan still finds his palms sweaty when Kevin Kouzmanoff strides to the plate with a homer, a single, and a double under his belt.
Hence The Cycle Paradox, when something emotionally rewarding is not actually the best way to win a baseball game. The Cycle Paradox can apply to many of the golden rules from the pre-sabermetric golden age of baseball, including:
- the sacrifice bunt
- the intentional walk
- making a diving play on ball that a better player would have been standing in front of
- David Eckstein
Rogue Culture: TV Eye
The Big Bang Theory : The Big Bang Theory holds that the home run is a more effective offensive outcome than the sacrifice bunt. It was first put forth by Jon Miller during a discussion with his Sunday Night Baseball partner Joe Morgan on the finer points of sabermetric analysis.
Two and a Half Men: Two and a Half Men is the number of Yankees clubhouse staff it takes to fold CC Sabathia’s uniform.
Lost: Manny Ramirez is Lost.
CSI: Carlos Silva Investigation CSI is an advanced unit of major league scouts, trainers, and statistical analysts assembled by who use cutting edge technology to solve the mysteries of players whose performances drop off in the year after a hefty contract is signed. Normally, this can be accomplished within an hour, or 44 uninterrupted minutes.
Curb Your Enthusiasm :A cleansing ritual involving beer, sarcasm, and heaps of barbecue, it is practiced each spring by despondent fans of the Kansas City Royals.
American Idol: For more information on American Idol, please see The Joe Mauer above.
Commando Shades are the sunglasses baseball players wear while tracking down fly balls in power alleys, staging coups in Central American countries, and extracting Al-Qaeda leaders from caves in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. They eliminate both glare, and all traces of the humanity of the person wearing them. Foregoing the panache of wayfarers and the classic efficiency of flip-downs, Commando Shades rely on wide, angular, and colorfully mirrored lenses to strike hollow fear into opponentsâ€™ hearts, and expressions of bewilderment onto the faces of fans.
Springtime for Hitter
Denotes that phenomenon wherein a clearly below-average player receives way more playing time than is prudent solely by virtue of a conspicuously excellent, if totally lucky, start to the season.
An example of a Springtime for Hitter situation played out recently when, in April of 2009, Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio batted a nutso .485/.500/.667 through his first 34 plate appearances. The early success convinced manager Fredi Gonzalez to hand Bonifacio the starting third base job and another 475 PAs while overshadowing the fact that, relative to other major leaguers, he (i.e. Bonifacio) is kinda sucky.
The Jesus Christ Superstar
The Jesus Christ Superstar is a vocally evangelical Christian major league ballplayer. He can be found thanking his Savior during interviews, and leading his team in pregame prayers and clubhouse bible study sessions. The Jesus Christ Superstar’s capacity for sin (greed, sloth, avarice) may be as great as the Buddha Superstar’s or the Secular Humanist Superstar’s, but it is more than neutralized by the public nature of his faith.
The Jesus Christ Superstar comes in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. He can be a friendly clubhouse prankster (Mike Sweeney) or a taciturn island in right field (JD Drew). Regardless, his favorite testament is the New Testament.
Fan 1: That Josh Hamilton sure did a lot of drugs.
Fan 2: Yeah, but now he’s a Jesus Christ Superstar.
Walking Hank Greenberg
Walking Hank Greenberg is a euphemism for speaking and behaving in a racially, religiously, or culturally insensitive way in or around the game of baseball. The term is derived from a Howard Megdal-penned New York Times article that contended Hank Greenberg was walked excessively by pitchers toward the end of the 1938 season because they were uncomfortable with the notion of a Jewish player breaking Babe Ruth’s single season home run record.
If you are expecting Ryan Howard to steal more bases this year simply because of the color of his skin, you are Walking Hank Greenberg. If you are making fun of Ozzie Guillen for something besides his Ozzie Guillen-ness, you just might be Walking Hank Greenberg. And if you’re pitching around Ryan Braun, you might be helping your team win, but you are also, most certainly, Walking Hank Greenberg.
Baseball players are known for the talents they show off between the foul lines. On occasion, however, within the confines of a local sports show featurette or a Jumbotron time killing spot, a player will reveal a hidden skill that comes out when the lights go down and the crowd goes quiet…
Viewers learn that The Troubadour is as quick on the fretboard as he is on the base paths, his voice is as sweet as his swing, and fortunately he can afford to record and publish his own albums. The Troubador might be a decent ballplayer, but once the news hits that he fancies himself a musician, it will come up every time his name is mentioned, for the rest of his life.
Fan #1: “Bernie Williams was a central part of those early World Series Yankee teams.”
Fan #2: “Jazz guitar!”
Notable Troubadours include:
- Bernie Williams
- Bronson Arroyo
- Jake Peavy
- Aubrey Huff
- Peter Gammons
The Forever Usher
The Forever Usher can be found in baseball stadiums across America — and has manned his respective aisle for a span bordering eternity. He is at least 77 years old, and spends a great deal of each game waddling up and down stadium steps. He is prone to covering every spare inch of his uniform with commemorative pins and bemoaning baseball’s increasingly fast pace.
He was there when the stadium was erected and when the franchise moved either to or from Milwaukee. His hobbies include tastefully rendered organ music, remembering the good old days, popping beach balls, and arbitrating seating disputes.
Lima Time is that brief and shining epoch when a quirky, under-talented player catches lightning in a bottle and outplays himself and his time. This unlikely overachiever captures the country’s imagination, sending homers over the wall through sheer charisma or perplexing hitters on the wings of sheer enthusiasm. Lima Time is named for the king of both the highs and the lows, pitcher Jose Lima.
Lima Time is short-lived: it must be. The dream can’t continue for longer than the law of randomness will allow. Soon the enchanted player will return to his job on the docks, and America will glom onto the next one-season wonder on the rise. Signs that a player is in the midst of Lima Time can include: an excess of punning newspaper headlines, a silly nickname, extreme focus on eccentric tics, and wigged fan clubs.
Notable Lima Time players include:
- Jose Lima
- Bob “The Hammer” Hamelin
- Mark “The Bird” Fidrych
The Fantasy Paradox
The Fantasy Paradox occurs when a hitter on your fantasy baseball team is facing a pitcher who is also on your fantasy baseball team. The success of one can only come with the failure the other. Many a J.V. Ricciardi‘s brain has been twisted up trying to determine the best possible outcome for the conundrum. Delusional examples hoped for include, among many others:
- The pitcher gives up a home run to only that one hitter, but wins the game
- The pitcher gives up, okay, just nothing bigger than a double, without giving up a run and getting the save
- The pitcher walks the hitter, who then steals second and third but doesn’t score
- The pitcher throws a no-hitter but walks the hitter four times
The Templeton is an absurdly nostalgic and cliche-ridden baseball newspaper article. It is defined by its transparent efforts to tug at heartstrings, its exploitation of tragedy, and the inevitable warm, optimistic sensation it leaves in the guts of readers — the sensation being similar to that which results from prolonged exposure to a food-heating lamp
The Templeton gets its name from fictional Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Templeton of HBO’s The Wire. Unable to secure a good interview on Opening Day at Camden Yards, Templeton invents the story of a disabled, orphaned, broke, baseball-loving inner-city teenager who cut school in order to linger around the outside of the stadium and search for a way in.
The blueprint for The Templeton is the story of Babe Ruth making good on his vow to homer for terminally ill 11-year old Johnny Sylvester in 1926. Since then, The Templeton has reemerged in many forms. It could be the story of a longtime criminal who turned his life around as a youth baseball coach, or that of long-lost high school teammates and friends, reconnected as senior citizens.
Fan 1: Did you read that Plaschke article about the scout who signed Andre Ethier?
Fan 2: Yeah, Fire Joe Morgan destroyed it. It was such a Templeton.
One-Downsmanship is the practice, very common among the Sabermetric Giant population — your Rob Neyers, your Jonah Keris — of downplaying one’s importance to the sabermetric project while simultaneously singing the praises of younger and/or less well-known baseballing nerds. The reason for the deflection is threefold. For one, the Giant realizes that, at its best, the sabermetric community recognizes neither status nor title, but mere reason. For two, he knows that, only 10 years ago, he was the insurgent — that, in fact, the history of sabermetrics is the history of baseballing insurgence. Finally, having spent years refining his nerdly instincts — hunched in front of computers, fixing his broken glasses with all manner of adhesive — the Giant has no capacity either for accepting, let alone demanding, praise.
You’ll know you’ve witnessed One-Downsmanship when you see the Giant say of another baseballing nerd, “We’ll all be working for him someday.”
Bill James Disease
Bill James Disease is an affliction of the modern baseball fan. Those afflicted must compulsively second guess every assertion made by mainstream media members who are speaking for the most part off the top of their heads.
No matter how insignificant the offhand remark about Kevin Youkilis’ tendency to hit fly balls or how Tim Lincecum gets better as the game goes on, when the ex-jock lets the comment fly the Bill James Disease sufferer’s heart rate and blood pressure rise and he experiences an increased sense of injustice in the world. Since he’s probably at a computer anyway, the sufferer quickly surfs to the Fangraphs page that will most hastily dispatch the putrid–but long-forgotten by everyone else–claim, and tweet about it.
Bradenia is the personal space surrounding a baseball player on the field. It is his sovereign nation, his personal kingdom. The expanse of its borders is determined by his values, his experiences, his weird sensitivities. The term takes its name from pitcher Dallas Braden, whose eponymous Bradenia — mapped by Flip Flop Flyball’s Craig Robinson — was invaded in the form of Alex Rodriguez trampling across the pitchers mound on his way to first base.
As Bradenia is a symbolic space, its borders may vary from moment to moment, and its defenses may not be entirely consistent. It also varies from player to player. A breech of Milton Bradley’s Bradenia, for instance, could consist merely of a funny look or snide comment and would surely lead to swift and violent retribution. Meanwhile the same comment directed toward, say, Yadier Molina, would likely elicit no more than a disinterested an uninterested suspiro — or “sigh” in English.
When yer too scared to play with the big boys by swingin a big stick, and you’d rather dance yer way down to first on the wings of a technicality, yer playin lawyer ball. Wouldn’t want to get yerself dirty now would you Sally? Best to stay inside playing chess with yer dolls.
The Infield Fly Rule Rule
The Infield Fly Rule Rule states that the easiest way to assess a person’s baseball fandom is by testing their knowledge of the infield fly rule. Further, one who wishes to project a nuanced understanding of the game, its quirks, and its history, can do so simply by alluding to the infield fly rule. When strung together, the words infield, fly, and rule become a potent shorthand for intelligent baseball discussion.
Fan 1: Larry is finally coming around on baseball.
Fan 2: Oh yeah?
Fan 1: Yeah, I overhaerd him trying to explain the infield fly rule to one of his friends.
In the two minutes of free time you have to catch up on baseball news, it is inevitable that your baseball-obsessed friend with weird amounts of free time will sense a weakness in your defenses and take the opportunity to send you a link to the densest, longest, most intricate baseball blog post on the internet.
Along with the link, he will send several direct questions pertaining to paragraphs eight and fourteen of this blog post, essentially demanding a detailed, nuanced response to the already detailed and nuanced blog post. You will feel obliged by the bond of comradeship to carefully read through the lengthy diatribe, tracking the cyclonic language and the crescendo of logic asserting with admirable equivocation the importance of Jeff Nelson’s role on the 2000 Yankees and the fluctuating role of the set-up man throughout the course of human history from Pompeii to 9/11.
45 minutes later, you have completed a thoughtful, well-reasoned response to your friend’s, and when you see him at the bar the next night, he will have no idea what you are talking about.
You have been JoePos’d
The term is derived from the well-reasoned, professional-grade and incredibly long blog posts of sportswriter Joe Posnanski, whose capacity to argue vehemently for the Hall of Fame credentials of one player or another knows no bounds.
Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus and the legendary Wezen-Ball contributes this term:
The pitcher glowers over the edge of his mitt, staring in at the catcher. A barely perceptible nod of the head and he sets himself before beginning his wind-up. The batter waits impatiently. The pitch. The swing. The bat cracks as the batter makes solid contact with the fastball. The ball screams off the bat; the pitcher snaps his neck back to follow the flight of the ball. The batter pauses for a second as he watches the ball sail over the fence before running down to first. The home run has been hit and the crowd is cheering wildly.
But the play isn’t over. The batter still has 360 feet to traverse before he actually scores a run. The game is on pause until he touches all three bases and home plate; meanwhile, 40,000 eyes are now focused on him rounding the bases.
No other sport does this, pausing the game while the scoring player runs through a certain, prolonged motion. It’s akin to asking Adrian Peterson to run from one goal post to the other after reaching the end zone before his touchdown can be ruled official. Or telling Kobe Bryant that his basket won’t count unless he does four baseline-to-baseline sprints. Or making Alex Ovechkin skate from goalline to goalline and back before they can ring the light
That’s what baseball does, though, removing all distraction from the field of play and focusing the stadium’s attention on the batter – a single, lone man – as he runs out his obligation, still excited with his success. This home run trot – this tater trot – is not only a moment of in-game euphoria but also a glimpse into the spirit of the batter. After all, how the player handles this excitement and attention tells us a lot about what kind of person he is.
Does he start running the bases at the crack of the bat, hoping for that double, only to pull up and casually jog the rest of the way home once the ball clears the fence? Does he stand at home plate and admire his blast before reluctantly lumbering around the bases? Maybe he never seems to pick up his head once, running as hard on those first few steps out of the box as he does on those last few steps through the plate? Is there joy on his face throughout the circuit? A smirk, maybe? Or is he stone-faced and officious as he celebrates his success?
The answers will be different for every player. The manner in which a player runs out a home run is, after all, a personal thing, influenced by a lifetime spent on the diamond. This intersection of lifetime experiences, personality, talent, and enthusiasm is what makes each and every tater trot unique and worth watching.
Francoeurganda is a term coined by Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk, to refer to the annual Spring Training proclamations that on-base nightmare Jeff Francoeur has been working on his plate discipline and will be a new hitter this year. As yet, this form of optimistic propaganda has not preceded measurable improvement in any of the years before which it was broadcast.
According to Calcaterra, “No matter how poorly [Francoeur] does, someone is going to say that this, by gum, is the year he breaks out. No matter how little he progresses, Francoeur himself is going to say that he’s working on his plate discipline. You can set your watch by this alternate universe jive. And frankly, I’d miss it if we didn’t have it.”
Good Old-Fashioned Country Hardball
Good old-fashioned country hardball is an eight-syllable phrase that refers to pitching without locational preference or pitch selection. While playing good old-fashioned country hardball, a pitcher rears back and throws their best fastball at the hitter, counting on the speed of the pitch to defeat the batter. Admiringly espoused by Cubs’ color commentator Bob Brenly, GOFCH is a style that seems to originate in rural areas of the United States some time before World War II. Pitchers who only throw fastballs are “Hardball Specialists” who disdain the chess match of a pitcher/batter confrontation in favor of a simple contest of strength. A pitcher is only throwing Good Old-Fashioned Country Hardball when he is successful at throwing a strike past the hitter. In any other circumstances, he has simply left one out over the plate.
Hai Mom, I’m On Ur TV!
The TV shot that trains in on the present batter’s face will also often capture the image of fans seated behind that batter. When friends and family of that fan see him or her on TV, they will call that person on their cellular telephone to discuss it. The fan in the seat, realizing this peculiar and pleasurable fact, will then wave in the direction of the camera, while still on the cellular phone with the aforementioned friends or family, so that they can talk about how the fan is waving at them through the television.
While this process is extremely pleasurable for those directly involved, it can cause consternation on the part of television viewers who are forced to watch the scenario play out in game after game, for the entire season and on through the playoffs and the World Series.
The 1970’s Orioles
The 1970 Orioles is a particularly dominant APBA baseball team. 1970 Orioles generally feature at least two “A” pitchers and perhaps even the very rare “A&C” pitcher along with a murderous lineup capable of turning a terrible dice roll into a two-out run scoring single. During family beach vacations 1970 Orioles will generally be banned from APBA contests in the interest of promoting competition and avoiding drunken knife fights.
The WTF Promotion
The WTF Promotion is a recurring feature in minor league ballparks across America. To distract fans from the splintered bleachers or awkward presence of Jose Lima in the bullpen, stadium promoters and local businesses create these wacky, possibly unsafe games and giveaways. The precious moments between half-innings are eaten away by giant fuzzy dice rolls, discounted haircuts in the concession area, and animals of all stripe. Fans may wonder how these promotions could be anything but schemes dreamed up by Robert Redford and Paul Newman in a deleted scene from The Sting, or ideas scratched off some long ago list penned by a member of the Veckk family. They would, indeed, be completely justified in doing so.
When a Hollywood actor is portraying a pitcher with a fantastic arm, filmmakers often employ special effects and camera tricks to create the illusion that said actor is throwing really hard. This blend of acting and special effects is The Cine-Pitch. The Cine-Pitch often involves some sort of swinging around of the camera as the “pitch” is delivered, along with a blurring effect, and sound effects that recall a jet fighter taking off.
Notable Cine-Pitchers include:
- Tim Robbins as Nuke Lalouche in Bull Durham, though many would argue that filmmakers didn’t do a particularly good job, creating credibility issues when the batter-actor at the plate had to swing at a looping lob as though it were a 100-m.p.h. Good Old-Fashioned Country Hardball.
- Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel in For the Love of the Game.
- Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn in Major League, although rumor has it that Sheen actually threw 88 m.p.h. on his own.
- Thomas Ian Nicholas as Henry Rowengartener in Rookie of the Year
Hold On, It’s a Bunt!
The Cine-Bunt is trick play most often seen at the climax of baseball movies. A big power hitter will come to the plate, at a time when a home run would win or tie the game. The hitter puts on a show of being ready to launch one into the ether, even going so far as to call his own shot by pointing into the outfield. Then, just as the ball is hurtling in towards home plate, the power hitter defies all expectation and drops down a perfect bunt, befuddling the opposition, the crowd, and the movie viewer.
Notable Cine-Bunts (SPOILER ALERT):
- Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor’s Cine-Bunt at the end of Major League
The Sexed Up Mascot
The Sexed Up Mascot can get away with anything in the name of that shit-eating grin on his big fake face. He sidles up to the ladies and puts the exaggerated moves on them, dropping to a knee, or throwing an arm over their shoulder, as an emasculated boyfriend or husband sits a seat or two down. The boyfriend is able to remember, while he sinks lower in his seat and others bask in the mascot’s showmanship, that The Sexed Up Mascot is really just some perv in a costume, getting his jollies off as he leers through a mesh alien mouth.
The Dad Cap
The Dad Cap is a baseball cap worn in the fashion of my dad: cap high on the head, a stiff peak unaltered since it left the factory, clean, and with a little tip forward, forgoing the modern styles with the lower peaks. The Dad Cap peers down over the brow like a general surveying the battlefield.
Notable Dad Cap wearers:
- Omar Vizquel
- Jim Tracy
- Joe Torre
The Sports Media Industrial Complex
The Sports Media Industrial Complex refers to one or several major sports media outlets that most of us can’t stand but that we watch a lot anyway. These few outlets control the way that we watch sports, often adding new features that make people wanna go nuts or covering sports that aren’t particularly interesting to us, or showing 17 hours of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.
Notable outlets include:
- FOX Sports
The Steve Buechele
The remembrance of a mid-level to low-level baseball player whose retirement made absolutely no impact on the 24/7 sports new cycle whatsoever. Said player is generally only remembered many years after fading from the game and most memories of him are only prompted by a quasi-creepy Peter Gammons comment (or deeply revealing Cardboard Gods entry by Josh Wilker).