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This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, and their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.
A number that indicates how close a front-running team is to clinching a division or season title. It represents the total of additional wins by the front-running team or additional losses by the rival team after which it is mathematically impossible for the rival team to capture the title.
Specific words directed towards an umpire that are almost certain to cause immediate ejection from the game.
make the pitcher work
When an offensive team tries to make the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches and tire him out by working the count, or taking pitches or fouling off pitches, it is said to be making the pitcher work. "We've got a lot of good hitters up and down this lineup, but the key is to make the pitchers work," Laird said. "Tonight we made Saunders work. Then we got to their bullpen and were able to string some key hits together."
make a statement
When a player does something to catch the attention or make an impression on the other team, he may be said to "make a statement." Perhaps he makes a spectacular fielding play, hits a home run, slides hard into second base, or throws a brushback pitch. This phrase is also used in other sports when a team seeks to show up or to demonstrate its power against an opponent. "There were a lot of times where we could have given up, but no one gave up. We made a statement here tonight".
When an umpire makes a bad call on a pitch, he may implicitly acknowledge it on a later pitch by making another bad call to "make up" for the first. For example, say an umpire mistakenly calls a strike on a pitch that is out of the strike zone; he may later call a ball on a pitch that's in the strike zone so that the hitter gets back what was initially taken away. Umpires typically, and understandably, deny that there is any such thing as a "make-up call".
When a game is canceled because of a rainout or for some other reason, a make-up game is usually scheduled later in the season. Late in the regular season if the outcome of that game would not affect which teams would reach the play-offs, then the game might not be made up.
See field manager. Different from the general manager.
Producing runs one at a time, piece by piece, component by component by means of patience at the plate, contact hitting, advancing runners, taking advantage of errors, alert baserunning including stealing a base or advancing on an out or a mistake by a fielder. In other words: small ball.
A home run hitter. See crush the ball.
A string of 1's on the scoreboard (the shape of matchsticks), indicating successive innings in which 1 run was scored. Also referred to as a picket fence.
When a hitter breaks his bat. Started by Chicago White Sox commentator [Ken Harrelson] after Matt Abattacola (from Chicago's WSCR 670 The SCORE) requested.
An easy pitch to hit — down the middle of the plate.
A batting average of .200. Named (most likely) for Mario Mendoza, a notoriously poor hitter but decent shortstop who managed to have a 9-year major league career from 1974 to 1982 with a life-time batting average of .215.
men in blue
metal bat swing
A long swing that does not protect the inside part of the plate. Generally used to describe college players adjusting to professional ball and wooden bats.
The second baseman and shortstop.
The fourth, fifth and sixth innings of a regulation nine-inning game.
middle of the inning
The time between the top half and bottom half of an inning when the visiting team takes the field and the home team prepares to bat. No gameplay occurs during this period and television and radio broadcasts typically run advertisements. See also seventh-inning stretch.
A relief pitcher who is brought in typically during the middle-innings (4, 5, and 6). Since he's typically in the game because the starting pitcher allowed the opponents a lot of runs, the middle reliever is expected to hold down the opponents' scoring for an inning or two in hopes that his own team can close the gap.
Used during the early days of integration to refer to any African-American player.
An error. A word from billiards, when the cue stick slips or just brushes the cue ball thereby leading to a missed shot.
miss some bats
A pitcher who is good at getting batters to strike out may be said to "miss some bats," that is, to make the batters swing and miss. A relief pitcher who is good at missing bats may be brought into a game when the other team already has runners in scoring position.
miss some spots
A pitcher who does not have good command of his pitches and is not able to throw the ball where he intends to is said to "miss some spots." "Angels Manager Mike Scioscia agreed. 'He missed some spots on a couple of hitters,' Scioscia said, 'and they didn’t miss their pitches'."
A "mistake" is poor execution, as distinguished from an error. It could be throwing to the wrong base, missing the cut-off, running into an obvious out, or throwing a pitch into the batter's "hot zone" instead of where the catcher set up for it.
There may be such a thing as a mistake hitter, a mediocre hitter who occasionally gets a pitch that he can drive. But a "mistake pitcher" doesn't usually last long in the big leagues.
When asked how the mighty Yankees lost the 1960 World Series, Yogi Berra remarked, "We made too many wrong mistakes."
A batter who isn't adept at hitting good pitches that are located well but can take advantage of a pitcher's mistakes.
"Mitt" (derived from "mitten") can refer to any type of baseball glove, though the term is officially reserved to describe the catcher's mitt and the first-baseman's mitt. Those mitts (like a mitten) have a slot for the thumb and a single sheath covering all the fingers, rather than the individual finger slots that gloves have. By rule, mitts are allowed to be worn only by the catcher and the first baseman. See the entry on glove.
mix up pitches
To be successful, most pitchers have to use a variety of pitches, and to mix them up tactically (not randomly) to keep hitters off balance. "Jackson was overwhelming. 'I was just trying to come out and be aggressive and mix my pitches up,' he said. 'I've seen them in the past and I know what they can do. You have to mix it up to keep them honest'."
Commonly-used abbreviation for Major League Baseball, the organization that operates the two North American major professional baseball leagues, the American League and the National League.
A man who is good in the clutch. Someone you can count on (or bet on) when it really matters.
An often misused term. It refers to Michael Lewis's 2002 book. "Moneyball player" most often refers to one who has a high on-base percentage, and does not steal a lot of bases. However, the essence of the book is about running an organization effectively by identifying inefficiencies and finding undervalued assets in a given market. As an example, the so-called Moneyball teams have shifted their focus to defense and speed instead of OBP which is no longer undervalued. "Moneyball" is often seen as the antithesis of "smallball", where teams take chances on the basepaths in an attempt to "manufacture" runs. In more traditional baseball circles, evoking Moneyball to describe a player or team can be a term of derision.
A mop-up pitcher or "mop-up man" is usually the bullpen's least effective reliever who comes in after the outcome of the game is all but certain. Sometimes other position players also come in to mop up in the last inning in order to gain playing experience as well as give the regulars a rest. "La Russa said Hancock's final outing was typical of a reliever whose role frequently called for mop-up duty."
The pitcher's mound is a raised section in the middle of the diamond where the pitcher stands when throwing the pitch. In Major League Baseball, a regulation mound is 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, with the center 59 feet (18.0 m) from the rear point of home plate, on the line between home plate and second base. The front edge of the pitcher's plate or rubber is 18 inches (45.7 cm) behind the center of the mound, making it 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. Six inches (15.2 cm) in front of the pitcher's rubber the mound begins to slope downward. The top of the rubber is to be no higher than 10 inches (25.4 cm) above home plate. From 1903 through 1968 this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.
Deviations from the expected flight of a pitch that make the ball harder to hit. Can be used to refer to both fastballs and breaking balls.
mow them down
A pitcher who dominates the opposing hitters, allowing few if any to get on base, is said to have "mowed them down" as if they were just so much hay being cut down by a mower.
To make an error, typically on an easy play. "He muffed it. The ball went right through his legs."
Murderers' Row was the nickname given to the New York Yankees baseball team of the late 1920s, in particular the 1927 team. The term was actually coined in 1918 by a sportswriter to describe the 1918 pre-Babe Ruth Yankee lineup, a team with quality hitters such as Frank "Home Run" Baker and Wally Pipp that led the A.L. in home runs with 45. In subsequent years, any line-up that has a series of power hitters who represent a daunting challenge to opposing pitchers might be dubbed by the press as a "murderer's row."
Refers to a high amount of velocity on a throw or pitch. A player may be exhorted to "put some (extra) mustard on it," with "it" usually referring to a pitcher's fastball or fielder's throw.
Abbreviation for Most Valuable Player. At the end of every season, the Baseball Writers Association of America chooses an MVP from each Major League. Typically an MVP is also chosen for each major play-off series, the World Series, and the All-Star Game.
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Published - February 2011
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