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Noting that our board has enjoyed talking about the current baseball playoff's in the USA (thanks, Kalleh), we'll devote this week to words from baseball. Perhaps readers can tell us which of these terms are part of the vernacular outside the USA.

goose egg – zero, nothing; especially : a score of zero in a game or contest
Wordcrafter note: I would add that the term, in non-baseball use, implies zero results despite effort.
[first attested 1866 in baseball slang; from the numeral on a scoreboard, shaped like a large goose egg.]
quote:
After months of increasingly noisy protests, ... the Justice Department has given its first public accounting of how many times it has used its newfound counterterrorism powers to demand records from libraries and elsewhere. The answer, it said Thursday, is zero. Justice Department officials and their supporters pointed to the goose egg as evidence that the raging public debate over the government's expanded powers has been much ado about nothing.
-Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, Sept. 18, 2003

Heading into the election, predictions were that not one of the Tories’ eight seats would be safe and that the Progressive Conservatives would be in tough to capture a single seat within any of Toronto’s 22 ridings. And capture a big fat goose egg they did.
- Ken Shular, Toronto Town Crier, Oct. 6, 2003
(Question: what is the phrase "in tough to capture" in the latter quotation?)
 
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A baseball playoff's what, pray. Its goose egg?

Which term means, in the UK, an ovoid part of the reproductive mechanism of a large, often domesticated, avian biped.

Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
A baseball playoff's what, pray. Its goose egg?


A "baseball playoff's" is where the vendors in the stands, instead of serving Budweiser, sell apple's.


(I noticed the misapplied apostrophe in my Wordcraft word-of-the-day email before noon on Monday and just knew I wouldn't be able to beat R.E. to the punch!)
 
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The equivalent phrase in cricket this side of the pond is "duck egg", or, more frequently, just "duck". It applies to an individual batsman who fails to score, not to the team score.
 
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Anyone naive enough to invite me to participate in a discussion of baseball would have two strikes against him already and would be coming from way out in left field.
 
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Well, Jerry, you seem to be in the majority here on that!
 
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quote:
b a s e b a l l ..... words

Anyone naive enough to invite me to participate in a discussion of baseball would have two strikes against him already and would be coming from way out in left field.


Oh, I don't know, Jerry. I think baseball is kind of...homey.

Heh.
 
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Oops.
Would you believe the apostrophe was a deliberate error to see if you were reading?
No, I didn't think so.

charley horse - a muscle cramp, esp. in the upper leg, from a muscular strain or a blow
[Originally baseball slang, c.1888; origin unknown, perhaps from somebody's long-forgotten lame racehorse. Or perhaps from pitcher Charley Radbourne, nicknamed Old Hoss.
At least one theorist speculates that it may trace to the constables, or Charleys, of 17th century England, but I've not seen discussion.]

The term has moved beyond slang: information is that as far back as 1946 and article published in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association was titled Treatment of the Charley Horse, and not Treatment of Injury to Quadriceps Femoris.
 
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I seem to have great difficulty posting today. I have written this reply three times now!

quote:
Would you believe the apostrophe was a deliberate error to see if you were reading?
Well, I would....especially since you so kindly mentioned my name in the introduction of this thread! I (we) often am thinking way ahead of my writing and make mistakes here. Red Face

WinterBranch, I agree with you about baseball being homey. What is the quote? God, mom, apple pie and baseball.... I found some fun baseball quotes.
 
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Following the goose and the horse, one more animal term from baseball:

cat-bird seat – a position of power or prominence. Used in the phrase "in the catbird seat".

This is a regionalism from the US south, where the catbird is native. Sportscaster Red Barber often used the phrase in announcing the games of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and it was irritatingly interjected by the Dodger fan who was a character in James Thurber's story titled "The Catbird Seat". Barber and Thurber thus brought the term into more common vernacular.

[I understand that in Las Vegas gambling, the "catbird seat" in a card game is the seat immediately to the right of the dealer.]
quote:
With a sour economy and growing rejection of President George W. Bush's domestic policy, the Democrats would seem to be in the catbird seat this year.
- Louis Weisberg, Chicago Free Press, October 8, 2002

On the game show front, there's The Weakest Link (NBC), a UK import that hopes to nudge Regis Philbin and his still-popular game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, out of its catbird seat ...
- Belinda Acosta, Austin (Texas) Chronicle, April 20, 2001
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Heading into the election, predictions were that not one of the Tories’ eight seats would be safe and that the Progressive Conservatives would be in tough to capture a single seat within any of Toronto’s 22 ridings. And capture a big fat goose egg they did.
- Ken Shular, Toronto Town Crier, Oct. 6, 2003(Question: what is the phrase "in tough to capture" in the latter quotation?)

I've never heard the phrase "in tough" before, but I would guess it would be similar in meaning to our phrase "hard put".

(AHD) defines "hard put" as "Undergoing great difficulty: Under the circumstances, he was hard put to explain himself.

WordNet (same site - dictionary.com) says that "hard put" can mean " facing or experiencing financial trouble or difficulty", and gives as synonyms "distressed", "hard-pressed", "in a bad way", "in trouble".

"Would be in tough" may be short for "would have a tough time" or "be in a tough spot".

Tinman

[This message was edited by tinman on Tue Oct 14th, 2003 at 23:53.]
 
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The definitions I find are inadequate; these come from my own pen.

ballpark - adj: approximate (used of quantity; you would never say, for example, "That is a ballpark copy of Da Vinci's painting.")
ballpark - noun: the approximate range of
ballpark figure - an approximation; typically an initial or early approximation
quote:
Gwinnett County commissioners are contemplating increasing the pension of the county's 4,100 employees ... [says one:] "It will put our pension plan into the same ballpark as everyone else's."
- Doug Nurse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 15, 2003

While the Bush administration and Congress turn a blind eye to the threat posed by uninspected cargo in passenger plane holds, the Massachusetts Port Authority is starting to test screening technologies and procedures at Logan Airport. ... The Logan tests and the experience of Israel and the military should provide a ballpark figure for the cost.
- The Boston Globe, Oct. 14, 2003
 
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The definitions I find are inadequate; these come from my own pen.

ballpark - adj: approximate (used of quantity; you would never say, for example, "That is a ballpark copy of Da Vinci's painting.")
ballpark - noun: the approximate range of
ballpark figure - an approximation; typically an initial or early approximation
quote:
Gwinnett County commissioners are contemplating increasing the pension of the county's 4,100 employees ... [says one:] "It will put our pension plan into the same ballpark as everyone else's."
- Doug Nurse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 15, 2003

While the Bush administration and Congress turn a blind eye to the threat posed by uninspected cargo in passenger plane holds, the Massachusetts Port Authority is starting to test screening technologies and procedures at Logan Airport. ... The Logan tests and the experience of Israel and the military should provide a ballpark figure for the cost.
- The Boston Globe, Oct. 14, 2003
 
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rain check – an assurance that an offer, not accepted now, will be repeated later (esp., a seller's commitment to sell an out-of-stock item at the advertised price as soon as it becomes available)

So says the dictionary. But I would suggest that the term more generally means (without regard to any "offer") "a deferral," as in the British examples below.
[The phrase originated (1884) with the meaning of "tickets to rained-out baseball games."]

quote:
Mr. Hammond: Would maternity pay apply for the full period in that circumstance?
Alan Johnson: I am fairly confident that that is the case, but I shall take a raincheck.
- Parliament, 10 Jan 2002

Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, February 9, 2000:
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: I regard Madeleine as a strong friend. It is, therefore, a pleasure for me to be here to make sure that we renew that friendship and we take a raincheck on all the many issues around the world in which we are involved together, making common cause and standing up for the same interests and the same values.
 
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It's interesting that "raincheck" is not used in its literal meaning over here, but we have picked up the figurative use, and, as shown by the examples posted by wordcrafter, it is even used in our parliament.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
It's interesting that "raincheck" is not used in its literal meaning over here, but we have picked up the figurative use, and, as shown by the examples posted by wordcrafter, it is even used in our parliament.

Well, no, not quite.

The literal sense would be an actual raincheck, like that offer to purchase an item when it came back into stock.

A figurative use would be the logical extension of this as in
He: Like to go out for a drink?
She: I have to work late. Let me take a raincheck.

What Parliament has done is use "raincheck" in place of the phrase "but let me get back to you on that" which is not the same thing. Of course, English being what it is, words and phrases evolve and take on new meanings all the time but this one grates.

What was it that Humpty Dumpty had to say on this subject? B.H. could recite it from memory I'm sure but I'm too lazy at the moment to google it up.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by C J Strolin:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by arnie:
B.H. could recite it from memory I'm sure but I'm too lazy at the moment to google it up.


I could, but I shalln't.
I wouldn't want to be thought of as some kind of monomaniac. Big Grin

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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quote:


I could, but I shalln't.


This is the first time I ever saw "shalln't."

"Shan't" is the form I'm used to seeing.

But then, I don't get out much, so I shan't say I'm an authority.

Do you say "willn't" or "won't" ??

[This message was edited by jerry thomas on Fri Oct 17th, 2003 at 16:19.]
 
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hot stove league – informal speculation among devotees of a sport or other narrow activity, during the activity's off-season, of what the future holds
[Imagine the old-timers of 1890 gathered in the country store of a winter afternoon, warmed by the pot-bellied stove, whiling away the hours in talk.]

The above definition is my own, for I disagree a bit with the sole on-line dictionary that defines this term. There it is defined as "devotees of a sport, esp. baseball, who meet for off-season talks." To me the term means the discussion, not the devotees, and it needn't concern a sport. Here are three non-sport examples:
quote:
... at least talk radio was able to act as the local cracker barrel or hot-stove league. The community could mix it up verbally ... Issues impacting local schools, government, and neighborhoods would get an airing.
Those days are over.
– Marybeth Brennan, What's At Stake When The F.C.C. Enables Big Brother?, The American Reporter, August, 29, 2003

I haven't seen it noted and it's probably arcane information of interest only to members of the hot-stove league of political observers who are always talking politics. But ... should the president be reelected, the Bushes will have the opportunity to become the longest-serving family in the White House.
– Godfrey Sperling, Comparative American dynasties, Christian Science Monitor, October 1, 2002

You'd think Gov. Roy Barnes has enough on his plate to keep him ... busy at least until the state election of 2002. But the hot-stove league of presidential campaigns keeps buzzing about Barnes and a Democratic Southern strategy as if the national elections were just a calendar page away.
– Bill Shipp, Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald, May 23, 2001
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jerry thomas:
quote:


I could, but I shalln't.


This is the first time I ever saw "shalln't."

"Shan't" is the form I'm used to seeing.

But then, I don't get out much, so I shan't say I'm an authority.

Do you say "willn't" or "won't" ??

[This message was edited by jerry thomas on Fri Oct 17th, 2003 at 16:19.]


I was using it deliberately because it was one of the forms used by Lewis Carroll. (It depends on whic edition you are reading !) "Shan't" is the preferred modern form.

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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switch-hitter[/b] -
baseball - one able to bat either right-handed or left-handed; "going both ways"
slang, by extension - a bisexual person
usage found, but not in dictionaries - person or software able to perform well at any of two or more functions

Exemplifying the last usage:
[QUOTE]Buffalo Philharmonic has witnessed the keen achievements of one of Buffalo's native sons in the person of Salvatore Andolina, who is now the Orchestra's switch-hitter in his permanent position as clarinetist, bass clarinetist and saxophonist.
- website of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

[M]any of those testifying in the Arthur Andersen trial have not always danced with the one that brung 'em. From star government witness David Duncan equivocating on when he knew he had criminal intent, to defense witnesses saying they saw unprecedented shredding by Enron auditors, just about every witness has been up for grabs. Certainly, the testimony of witnesses can backfi
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
switch-hitter[/b] -
_baseball_ - one able to bat either right-handed or left-handed; "going both ways"
_slang, by extension_ - a bisexual person
_usage found, but not in dictionaries_ - person or software able to perform well at any of two or more functions



In England we have cricketing metaphor for bisexual people. We say that someone who is bisexual "bats for both sides".

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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I understand that P G Wodehouse (and how come none of his books were in the big read top 100?) was very fond of cricket (indeed his early books about Psmith were all involved with the game).

However, when he started to travel to the USA and to write for that audience, he changed his sporting stories to those related to golf.

His reasoning was that, while the British would understand about golf, the Americans would never understand about cricket!

Richard English
 
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quote:
cat-bird seat – a position of power or prominence. Used in the phrase "in the catbird seat".


I received the following from my a dear friend who is also a logophile. He lurks on our board every so often and has a very fine mind regarding words and language. He sent me this and gave me permission to post it:

"Both Thurber and Red Barber were completely ignorant about 'catbird seat'. The behaviour described is that of a mockingbird, which does indeed perch on top of poles and on telephone or other wires, on the lookout for flying insects on which it feeds. It moves in an aggressive manner, thrashing its tail up and down. When it has a nest with young, it will drive crows and squirrels, and even cats, away by harrassing them and threatening to attack them from the rear."

"But, the catbird is very timid, shy, and retiring, and hides most of the time. It never perches on high places in full view. I repeat, Thurber and Red Barber were ornithological ignorami, and have managed to deceive thousands of sports fans for so many years that now there is no hope of getting anybody to listen to the truth."

I confess to being ignorant on the subject of "catbirds", but I will say that I trust my source.
 
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I ran across this on the Word Detective (fourth entry). He recommended Paul Dickson's 1999 New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, with "zillions" of baseball terms, their origins and meanings. The full title is The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary: A Cyclopedic Reference to More Than 7,000 Words, Names, Phrases, and Slang Expressions That Define the Game, Its Heritage, Culture, and Variations.

He has written other baseball dictionaries since then. The two I know of (through Books In Print) are The Dickson Baseball Dictionary: 5000 Terms Used by Players, the Press and People Who Love the Game (what happened to the other 2000?) and The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign Stealing Have Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime.

Tinman
 
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Deek is a baseball word, Shu says, but I can't find what it means. I came across it in the newspaper, and Shu says he has never seen it used this way: "Did Pierzynksi, as they say in baseball, 'deek' the umpire into a bad call?"

The only places where I can find it defined is in Phrontistry, which defines it as, "look at; see" or A Dictionary of Slang (UK) which defines it as, "a look; a glance."

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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Paul Dickson (New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 1999) says that deek (or deke) is short for decoy. "The term is long established in hockey for pulling the goaltender out of position. It also has a long football application. It began to find wide baseball application about 1990."

AHD:
quote:
deke tr.v.
To deceive (an opponent) in ice hockey by a fake: deked the goalie with a move from left to right.
deke n.
A fake, intended to deceive a member of an opposing team.
Online Etymology dictionary:
quote:
1960, ice hockey slang for a quick feinting move, short for decoy. The verb is attested from 1961.

Hickok Sports Glossaries:
quote:
deke
To fake, either with the puck or the body, in order to get a defensive player out of position or off balance. Short for "decoy."

OED Online:
quote:
N. Amer. (chiefly Canad.).
deke n.
In Ice Hockey, a deceptive movement or feint that induces an opponent to move out of position.
1960 Time (Canad. ed.) 21 Nov. 79/1 On the ice, Moore is one of the league's best players in the split-second art of faking a goalie out of position. ‘I've developed a little play of my own,’ he says. ‘It's a kind of fake shot--we call them ‘deeks’ for decoys.’ 1966 Globe & Mail (Toronto) 8 Nov. 34/6 On the fourth deke he moved and I fired her into the corner. 1973 Weekend Mag. (Montreal) 27 Jan. 10/2 What proved to be the ‘insurance goal’..left the Canadiens' Jimmy Roberts gasping after a fantastic deke, then beat goalie Ken Dryden on the short side.

deke trans. and intr. In Ice Hockey: to pass (an opponent) by feinting or making a ‘deke’. Also transf.

1961 Kingston (Ont.) Whig-Standard 23 Oct. 8/6 He deked around a Soo defenceman but was spun off balance from behind before he could get his shot away. 1962 Ibid. 12 Feb. 8/6 The big Irishman..deked (the defenceman)..almost out of his uniform, and ripped a deadly backhand shot past the helpless Hull netminder. 1974 Saturday Night (Toronto) Feb. 43/2 So you decide to deke them out by taking two tiny quick rightward steps and they take one giant step--in the same direction. 1977 Time Out 17 June 63/5 Glynne Thomas..has fattened his average at the expense of inexperienced forwards unable or unwilling to go in on goal or ‘deke’.


Tinman

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Thanks, Tinman! It surely makes sense in how it was used in the newspaper.
 
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Usually a deke is a physical movement. You shift to the left, the defender follows, and then you shift back to the right, getting by the defender before he can recover. This is how it is used in Football.

You can't use the word deke to describe Pierzynski getting the call, you would have to use faked, or something similar.
 
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