May 20, 2011

The great "as" and "the" in baseball talk

"As this ball rifled by Carrasco!"

Baseball announcers pull these "As" sentences out of the air. In this instance, nothing in particular was going on, no one was talking, yet out of the blue one of the announcers began that sentence with "As". I don't get it but the announcers apparently do. They know that "As" is always an appropriate word with which to begin any baseball sentence.

"As Thole slides into first!"
"As the ball outside -- 1 and 2."

They do this umpteen times in every game. Sometimes you can even catch them combining baseball-language tools, using both the "As" move and the famous "backwards talk" move:

"As, coming down heavily, the rain may halt the game."

But "As" is not alone in this exalted position. "The" has a kingly power on the field. What do I mean by this? Read on.

"Jacoby Elsbury: the base hit!" 

Sure, you could just say "a" base hit but it's not quite up to snuff. No, "the" is the word you're looking for. Actually, it should be capitalized like this: "The Base Hit!". "The" indicates something grand has just walked onto the field. It's as if Greatness, usually On-High, miraculously descended to appear at the ballpark: The Base Hit!!! Here are a few more examples:

"What this guy needs is The Home Run!" It's as if he's calling the spirit of "The Home Run", an entity in itself, and asking it to grace the field. "A" home run wouldn't do in this instance. Oh, no, no, no. "The" is clearly called for here.

"He gets him at second; he gets him at first -- The Double Play!!" It's like a sighting of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Queen herself: "Gasp! Look, mum! The Queen!"

Okay, one more thing from the happy land of baseball. I was watching Hawk Harrelson the other night. He announces the White Sox games and is my favorite sportscaster, hands down (strapped down, in fact). His usual on-air partner, Steve Stone, was absent for a few days and so his old co-announcer (whose name I forget; sorry) filled in for Stone.

These two guys were so giddy together, it was insane. They were like two little boys trying not to giggle as they served mass: totally out of control. At one point they tried to tell a story about Art Kushner, a baseball guy who now works at a fantasy baseball camp. They swore Art was the funniest guy in baseball.

So they trotted out this story that, as I say, they tried to tell -- but they couldn't because they were laughing too hard. You couldn't even tell who was speaking because their voices both ascended into an upper-upper register and remained there. They could hardly get a squeak out.

Finally, they managed to say that Art would tell stories about taking his dog Lucky out "for his morning drag." At the very mention of the dog's name -- Lucky -- they fell to the floor with laughter. And then, as they tried to get the punchline out, it seemed neither could do it. By this point, of course, I was laughing along with them. You do, when people get giddy. Finally they squeaked out: "He had only one leg!" After which they tumbled into an endless fit of giggles. I got a big kick out of it.

Okay, that's it for baseball talk today. Enjoy the games! Subway series in NYC this weekend. And my Red Sox are playing Annie's Cubbies! It's incestuous and fabulous.


Artichoke Annie said...


Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy at Fenway for this poor Cubbie Fan.....

writenow said...

What the Cubs need is The Longball.

cm said...

As always the baseball speak post is great. The Lucky story is hilarious. The backwards talk reminds me of one of the most famous sportscasters call I remember. Howard Cosell's call of the George Foreman knockdown of Joe Frazier. "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier"

writenow said...

It's nice to hear someone say they enjoy the baseball posts. I sure do. So you say backwards talk is all over the place, eh? I'll have to listen for it (as if I watch other sports). Glad you stopped by, C. Now, draw me some more people!

Artichoke Annie said...

Post Red Sox-Cubs Series Comment:

Do you think all that sloppy play in the 8th inning on Saturday by the Sox was a "Hey, we're sorry man for breaking Byrd's face." ????

All these little unwritten 'get-back' rules I would imagine they have 'I'm sorry' rules as well.