Baseball-ese #3

Brian Walton translates the real meaning behind common baseball sayings.

I had the opportunity to see and hear the Cardinals – Pirates game Monday night via the perspective presented by FSN Pittsburgh. Given the hopeless situation the Pittsburghers find themselves in yet again this season, their broadcasters had to dig deep into the cliché bin. They used some tried and true baseball lexicon, but they may not have meant exactly what their words literally indicated.

After all, the Pirates are in about as desperate of a situation as there could be in May. The Buccos have gone down ten times in a row to the Redbirds and currently find themselves eight games out of first place.

As a result, I bring you the third installment of Baseball-ese – inspired by the 2005 Pittsburgh Pirates. The first handful of these were actually spoken Monday night. The first statement in bold, is what they said. The second is what they may have wanted to say, but couldn't put in so many words, especially if the guys doing the talking want to remain an employee of the team.

They said: We'll see how the Pirates measure up against the best of the National League.

They meant: In other words, the Pirates have no chance of competing against their opponent.

They said: It is ok to commit errors as long as they are errors of aggressiveness.

They meant: Our team is young and makes a lot of mistakes, but it is ok because they are at least trying hard when they screw up.

They said: We're a young squad.

They meant: Our team is inexperienced and is not competitive as a result.

They said: We'll try to take the extra base when we can.

They meant: Our players don't pay attention to the base coaches and regularly run into stupid outs. (See errors of aggressiveness above.)

They said: It's a beautiful night for baseball.

They meant: It is a nice night before the game begins. Alternatively, it's actually 95 degrees with 95% humidity and no breeze, but the broadcasters could care less. They're supposed to help sell tickets. They and the listeners they're trying to entice to come out to the ball park sit in air conditioned comfort as the fans at the stadium are totally miserable.

They said: He had to get on his horse to catch that one.

They meant: The outfielder was out of position, playing too shallow and had to sprint full-speed straight back in hopes of catching up with the ball.

They said: He just missed a shoestring catch.

They meant: The outfielder took a risk that didn't pay off and instead of an out or even a single, the ball got past him for multiple extra bases.

They said: His mechanics are good.

They meant: Either the pitcher looks nice throwing the ball though his results are lousy or his fleet of automobiles are extremely well-maintained or both.

They said: That ball ate him up.

They meant: The second baseman may have had his glove on the wrong hand when the ball was hit in his direction. Then, he made it worse by actually trying to throw it.

They said: He's a money player.

They meant: The player supposedly performs well in crucial situations and is well compensated for doing so. Like the rest of the guys play for free? Like heck they would!

They said: The pitcher was banished to the bullpen.

They meant: Actually, they don't know. No broadcaster on earth has the slightest idea what the word "banished" means, even though some of them are former players to whom this happened personally. They just know that is what happens to ineffective starters who are paid too much to cut and/or have too much major league service time to demote, so are reassigned to relief duty.

If you have some favorite baseball-ese, drop me a line and I will share the best ones here.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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