Translating World Series Jargon, From Flashing Leather to Rally Squirrel

By Hampton Stevens

The Cardinals beat the Rangers in Game One of the Fall Classic last night, but did you understand what the announcers were talking about? A list of terms to learn before Game Two.

hampton_worldseries_post.jpg

Reuters

The World Series always draws new and casual fans to the game, and those fans can occasionally be mystified by baseball's colorful and ever-evolving glossary of slang and jargon, or "slargon." We've defined a few of the more pernicious terms, all culled from last night's FOX Sports' broadcast of Game One, by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver—the start of the pair's 14th straight World Series together.

Appeal: What Joe Buck does not have very much of. That relentless monotone is back in full-force, as is the ever-present air of smug condescension. Especially not appealing, and very bizarre, was Buck's choice at the top of last night's broadcast to acknowledge that he is (ahem) not beloved by hardcore baseball fans by offering up a fake apology for still being on the air, then following up with a 16-year-old-who's-daddy-bought-him-a-Porsche grin.

Away: Slang for "outs." If there are two outs in an inning, for instance, there are "two away." Also, where Cardinals superstar hitter Albert Pujols will soon go.

Balk: An illegal motion by the pitcher when one or more runners are on base, entitling all runners to advance one base. Also, what viewers did every time that Ashton Kutcher commercial came on where he stalks and prances in beachwear.

More On Baseball

martin_worldseries_thumb.jpg5 Stories to Watch in the 2011 World Series
barra_pujols_thumb.jpgAlbert Pujols' Big Moment Will Come After the World Series, Not During It
stevens_aug20_baseballaliens_thumb.jpgExplaining Baseball to Aliens
stevens_apr14_joewest_thumb.jpgWhy Are Baseball Games So Long?
barra_moneyball_thumb.jpgThe Many Problems With Moneyball
fetter_williams_thumb2.jpgRoger Maris, Ted Williams, and the Two Baseball Milestones Nobody Saw
bella_piazza_thumb.jpgThe Home Run That Made New York Cheer After 9/11

Bunting: Red, white, and blue decorations traditionally hung around stadiums during the postseason. Also what Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter can't do.

Epitaph: A gravestone inscription, and Tim McCarver's best moment of the night—the former long-time catcher claimed his epitaph would be "Pitchers Did This."

Flashing leather: Get your minds out of the gutter, people. To flash leather is to play good defense. Jeez.

Inheritance: Something you get from others, like the base-runners Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando got from starter C.J. Wilson with two outs in the sixth, or the broadcasting career that Joe Buck got from his dad.

Busch : A stadium in St. Louis made of a maroon-ish brick that clashes with the Cards' signature shade of red. Also, a beverage that Red Sox players may or may not have consumed in the clubhouse during their epic season-ending collapse.

Batter's box: The white chalk rectangles around home plate that batters may leave after each pitch in order to think about the next pitch, readjust their helmet, socks, and batting gloves, or perhaps simply to muse idly upon the little birds.

Chess match: What announcers call it when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa changes pitchers six times in an inning.

Foul tip: Any advice on how to use pinch-hitters that's offered by Texas manager Ron Washington.

Full extension: What St. Louis outfielder Lance Berkman got on his contract.

Germán: A Dominican.

Genius: A word that lazy, hype-ridden sportswriters and broadcasters trot out when Tony La Russa changes pitchers six times in an inning.

Gun: A strong throwing arm; i.e. cannon, rocket, rifle, and bazooka. See also: Yadier Molina.

Dugout: Where Ron Washington gets most of his exercise.

Force out: Major League Baseball nixing the Rangers' choice of Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki to throw out a first pitch for a Texas home game, then recanting that afternoon.

Home run: Pretty much any ball that's well-hit at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Homer: Announcers who root openly for their favorite teams in the booth. Like Joe Buck , who lives in St. Louis. And Tim McCarver, the Cardinals' catcher for three pennant-winning seasons in the 1960s.

Quality start: Any time a Rangers' pitcher gets past the third inning.

Rally Squirrel: Like the Rally Monkey, except a rodent. The Rally Squirrel Fever sweeping St. Louis is a classic case of the sort of fan craziness that seems priceless, hysterical, and terribly important if you are swept up in it, but is just goofy and deeply annoying to every other fan.

Single: Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. No word on his readiness to mingle, but he was awesome in the broadcast booth, despite being partnered with Buck, during FOX's broadcasts of the first two games of the Rangers-Tigers ALCS.

Spike: What would have happened to Chris Carpenter's face if it was Ty Cobb and not Elvis Andrus crossing first base when Carpenter dove over the bag to make a play.

Strike: The opposite of a lockout? Kidding. In last night's most spectacularly entertaining gaffe, McCarver informed millions of viewers that "strike is a word with five letters."

Stuff: A Tom Wolfish-term for the velocity, rotation, and most of all the intangible oomph that a pitcher gets on each throw, and very emphatically not whatever stuff Cardinals' current hitting instructor Mark McGwire used in his playing days, back when he was cheating America.

World Series-Wise: Finally we come to "-wise," maybe the most pernicious of any suffix in the English language. Buck, as is his wont, ruthlessly added an ear-splitting and soul-destroying "-wise" to absolutely any noun he happened across, torturing millions with heinous new adverbs including "power-wise," to describe a type of hitting, and "count-wise" to describe the number of balls and strikes. Stomach-wise, it's enough to make you barf.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/10/translating-world-series-jargon-from-flashing-leather-to-rally-squirrel/247052/