More so than any other sport, baseball takes its time to get to the action.  That’s not a criticism.  It’s part of what makes it great.  No other game allows you to hold a conversation with someone else during play, to talk over what’s happening as it unfolds, and build up the anticipation for the next bit of action through words.

While this certainly lends a social element to the sport for spectators, it also allows for the development a common language, which too often becomes overused by baseball commentators and reduced to clichés.  We all have our favourites, likely ingrained into us by our regional broadcast crew, but at some point, before it lost its original meaning, those clichés were likely clever turns of phrase.

As Salvador Dali famously said, “The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”

Here’s a definitive list of the language of idiots of which every baseball fan is all too aware.

Pitchers:

  • Throw gems.
  • Throw heat.
  • Throw high cheese.
  • Throw cheddar.
  • Throw fastballs that work for them.
  • Throw payoff pitches.
  • Throw it in batters’ wheelhouses.
  • Throw chin music.
  • Throw back door breaking balls.
  • Get batters to eat out of their hand.
  • Get out of jams.
  • Get shelled.
  • Get roughed up.
  • Get involved in duels.
  • Get relegated to the bullpen.
  • Can be gotten to (primarily early, but sometimes early and often).
  • Can be one strike away.
  • Can go the distance.
  • Can help their own cause.
  • Can get the best of a batter.
  • Are filthy.
  • Are nasty.
  • Overpower hitters.
  • Establish strike zones.
  • Have good mechanics.
  • Take something off pitches.
  • Uncork wild pitches.
  • Pitch to the score.
  • Just win games.
  • Eat innings.
  • Hold runners.

Batters:

  • Swing for the fences.
  • Swing and miss.
  • Hit balls that could be trouble.
  • Hit playable balls.
  • Hit the ball squarely.
  • Hit balls that take bad hops.
  • Hit towering line drives.
  • Hit frozen ropes.
  • Hit chili dippers.
  • Hit Texas Leaguers.
  • Hit fly ball outs that would be home runs in any other ballpark.
  • Hit solo shots.
  • Hit rockets.
  • Hit in the clutch.
  • Hit worm burners.
  • Fist the ball.
  • Have x amount of home runs on the year.
  • Have a good eye.
  • Can’t steal first base.
  • Can be a tough out.
  • Can be a contact hitter.
  • Can tie it up or take the lead with one swing of their bats.
  • Can get the best of a pitcher.
  • Can be real spark plugs (primarily ones of Anglo Saxon heritage).
  • Manufacture runs.
  • Produce runs.
  • Explode out of the batter’s box.
  • Tattoo pitches.
  • Chase bad pitches.
  • Take good cuts.
  • Take pitchers deep.
  • Collect seeing eye hits.
  • Wait for their pitch.
  • See the ball well.
  • Really get a hold of it.
  • Get all over pitches.
  • Often exhibit good pieces of hitting.
  • Mash taters.

Runners:

  • Get caught napping.
  • Get good jumps.
  • Get on their horse.
  • Score insurance runs.
  • Can be ninety feet away from scoring.
  • Can be ducks on the pond.

Fielders:

  • Toss it around the horn.
  • Catch cans of corn.
  • Make twin killings.
  • Make shoestring catches.
  • Have a real hose.
  • Have soft hands.

For information on the origins of some of these and other ridiculous sports clichés, check out Wikipedia’s Glossary of Baseball, as well as a past 10 Spot from Sports Illustrated’s Peter McEntegart.

Let me know the ones I’ve missed in the comments below, and I’ll add them to the list.