May 31, 2011

Baseball's language of disdain and admiration

Baseball announcers have catchphrases to express their opinion of players. Here are a few of the things they say:

"He's a free swinger." This is a nice way to say the batter is a fool who will swing at anything.

"He got a couple of soft hits."  Refers to a particular kind of lazy, up-in-the-air, shouldn't-have-been-a-hit hit. No one is impressed, though it did the job.

"And Cano waves at the ball." Delivered in a tone worthy of Bea Arthur, this denotes a complete lack of effort on the batter's part. I love this one. He's saying the guy swung the bat like a five-year-old.

And let's not forget the deadly but silent backwards k, the symbol for "struck out looking." They might as well use a dunce cap for the icon. There is great derision in that backwards k. It's one of several silent "words" that appear in the language of baseball. More on this another day.

On the other hand, sometimes the sportscasters love the players:

"He got all of that ball!" = Wow, did he hit that ball! Wattaguy!

"I'm impressed at the way the 2nd baseman is flashing the leather!" = the guy's making incredible catches.

The other night, after a guy ran full-force into a barrier, the sportscaster said "Great play by Roberts, giving up his body to help his pitcher!"

That last one is part of the lingering mythos of baseball, which says harm to players is inconsequential -- mere collateral damage. Meanwhile, the guy has a concussion for at least six months and is half the man he used to be.

And now I have three questions for readers. I can't ferret out the meaning of the following baseball terms on my own. I could consult the google god, of course, but I'd rather depend on friends and hearsay. So here are my questions:

"That's a bang woof 'em". What the hell is that?

"And he makes a shoe-string catch!" I have no clue about this one.

And finally, why is the middle of the 7th called "stretch time"?

That's it for today but don't worry. I still have tons of notes to write up for baseball talk. These posts won't stop until the season does. (OMG! I didn't want to think that last thought. Purge, purge!)


Artichoke Annie said...

shoestring catch -- A running catch made just above the fielder's shoetops

The origin of the seventh inning stretch is disputed - this however is a popular one - "President William Howard Taft at a Washington Senators game in 1910 felt sore in his backside and decided to stand up and stretch. Upon seeing the chief executive stand, the rest of the spectators in attendance felt obligated to join the president in his gestures."

I think your "bang woof'em" is a Hawkism = "hang woof'em" or in English... 'hang with them' which applies to a situation in which the player prevails through tenacity and persistence.

Artichoke Annie said...

PSttt - Hoping to partially validate myself (oh!) I did know shoestring catch and just Monday they were talking about President Taft and the 7th inning stretch.. but you should Goggle it there are some great stories out there about this ritual I know you will enjoy.

But "bang woof'em' was one I had to look up and still it's open to interpretation...

writenow said...

Thanks, Annie. You know, the Mets announcers say either "hang wif 'em" or "bang wif 'em". So that fits with your explanation perfectly. Hang with them. Amazing. I'll have to listen to the pronunciation more closely, and check out what's going on. I want to see if it makes sense in this new light. I love the stretch explanation. Fun! And even shoestring. Now I get it!

Anonymous said...

Hang Woof Em = a line drive or hard hit ball that it hit right at a player who catches it. i.e. hard liner hit right back to the pitcher who snags it

writenow said...

Aha! Thanks.