The Art of Sports Talking: ‘Baseball’

The 2023 College World Series begins Friday at Charles Schwab Field in “Omaha! Omaha!,” or, as our LSU friends like to say, Geauxmaha! (Is there no END to this “geaux” stuff?!)

Love or hate LSU, you have to admit — in any moment that passes for sanity, even among the LSU Haters out there — that the college game is better when LSU is good.

And this year, the Tigers are pretty good, or whatever phrase you’d wish to use to describe a team that wins 48 games, a Regional, a Super Regional, and winds up in Geauxmaha.

LSU is back for the first time since 2017, an eternity for Tiger fans. LSU most recently won it in 2009 and won four in seven seasons — 1991, ’93 (Airline High’s Todd Walker was the CWS Most Outstanding Player), and ’96-’97. If the Tigers can win this year, they’ll have seven all-time, second only to USC and one ahead of Texas.

A lot’s going on …

(For the whole story, read Everything Matters in Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story, by our old friend Glenn Guilbeau, (or Guilbeaux, if you prefer. Page 51 is my favorite because yours truly is on it, as is the song I wrote for Skip in 1989ish. Thank you, Glenn. Mighty fine book. Baseball coaches in Louisiana should send the Skipster chocolates every day; he was the difference that made the difference for college baseball in our state.)

So back in the summertime, we offered an Introduction to ‘Sports Talking’ and determined that The World of Sports has a language all its own, and that each individual sport has an even more specialized lingo. A field goal is different in football than in basketball. “Pin” is one thing in bowling and another in wrestling. A skater spins lots and lands; a second baseman spins once and throws.

And on like that.

We wrote about football (played by gridders on a gridiron) and basketball, or roundball, played with a rock, and how in hoops, foul trouble is when you are in danger of disqualification because you’ve done an extreme number of illegal things, not to be confused with foul trouble caused by sitting next to a fan who

smells like an old sneaker, or fowl trouble, when the concession stand runs out of chicken tenders.

Now, let’s get ready for baseball or hardball, by introducing some everyday words that mean one thing in baseball (and sometimes, something else in real life).

A hose is an arm and if you throw fast and true, you have a hose. A good defender can flash the leather and has the good hands. Wheels are legs and good ones mean you are fast; no wheels mean you are no threat to steal or swipe a bag/base, but hopefully, you are not so terribly, horribly slow that you can’t score from third on a triple or even on a homer that leaves the yard/park.

Some of the CWS players had a chance out of high school to become bonus babies, or young players who sign for a big bonus payment on top of a salary. A bonus baby is also the second baby out of the womb when there are twins; triplets mean mom gets two bonus babies.

A cut fastball is a ball that breaks away from the arm that threw it; in other words, it breaks toward the pitcher’s glove-hand side. A cut fastball is also a fastball that wasn’t good enough to make the varsity.

A backdoor slider or backdoor breaker appears to the batter to be off the plate — right before it breaks over the plate and late. Bummer for the batter. (In real life, a backdoor slider it is one of us Baptists who used to attend church regularly but now gets to Sunday school late — if at all.)

A tater is a homer run; it’s also the nickname of the 5-9, 285-pound third baseman.

A twinbill is a doubleheader, a twin killing is a double play, and a twinbill killing is when a doubleheader gets rained out.

A yakker is a curveball, also called an Uncle Charlie — “Caught him looking at ol’ Uncle Chuck!” A yakker is also a female yak — a yak her — or one who hunts yaks, or a sick person who can’t keep their food down. A very good curveball hitter is a yakker whacker, sometimes called a yacker smacker.

If a player is on deck he is the next batter up after the one at the plate, and if a plyer is to bat after the batter on deck, he is said to be in the hole — although it began as in the hold, a nautical term like on deck is; in the hold is by definition just beneath the deck of a ship, as in the storage area. So, in baseball if you are on deck, then I am in the hold and batting after you. Nautical terms were common in the 1800s

when baseball started but things evolve, and “in the hold” is sadly gone forever; the great unwashed win again).

So … enjoy the CWS. “Let’s have a clue out there! Here we go! See you at the yard.

Ready BREAK!” Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu