Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "R")
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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.
- Indicates a participant in the game who hears things perhaps too well for
his own good. A player who becomes nervous or chokes when opposing players
or fans yell at or razz him is said to have "rabbit ears". Also, an
umpire who picks up on every complaint hurled at him from the dugouts
is described this way.
- A player, typically a pitcher, with a weak arm. "I hope the Cardinals
did not give up an actual Major League player for this rag arm home
- To run into and knock over the catcher when running home from third base.
- Rain delay refers to situations when a game starts late due
to rain or is temporarily suspended due to rain. A game that is suspended
after it has begun may be resumed either the same day or at a later
date. A game that never begins, or that is canceled after it begins
due to rainy weather is a rainout and in most cases will be rescheduled
for a later date – a make-up date. In the event of a non-tie game past
the 5th inning with heavy inclement weather, the game may be called
(finalized) with the winner being the team that was winning at the end
of the last completed inning.
- A curveball with a high arc in its path to the plate.
- A rainout refers to a game that is canceled or stopped in progress due to
rain. Generally, Major League Baseball teams will continue play in light
to moderate rain but will suspend play if it is raining heavily or if
there is standing water on the field. Games can also be delayed or canceled
for other forms of inclement weather, or if the field is found to be
unfit for play. If a game is rained out before play begins, a make-up
game is rescheduled for a later date. If a game is called after play
begins but before 4½ innings have been completed (if the home team
is ahead) or five innings have been completed (if the visitors are ahead
or the game is tied), the game is not an official game. The umpire declares
"No Game," the game is played in its entirety at a later date, and statistics
compiled during the game are not counted. Games that are stopped after
they become official games count in the standings (unless the game is
tied, in which case it is replayed from the beginning), and statistics
compiled during the game are counted.
- To really hit the ball hard, all over the park. When you're raking,
you're hitting very well. "Mike Gosling allowed one run on five hits
over 6⅓ innings and Louisville raked Pawtucket pitching for 14
hits as the Bats defeated the Red Sox, 7-1, in an International League
- To come back from a deficit. This typically occurs in the final innings of a game.
- A cap worn backwards, sideways, or inside-out by fans or players to
bring a rally. Said to have originated by fans of the New York Mets
during the 1985 baseball season, when the Mets captured several dramatic
come-from-behind victories, and spread to the players themselves some
time during the 1986 season. It rose to national awareness during the
1986 World Series. The Mets were down three games to two and losing
the deciding game to the Red Sox, when in the seventh inning, television
cameras showed some of the New York Mets players in the dugout wearing
their caps inside-out. The team rallied to win the game and the series.
- A fielder's ability to move from his position to field a ball in play.
- An RBI or "run batted in" is a run scored as a result
of a hit; a bases-filled walk or hit-by-pitch or awarding of first
base due to interference; a sacrifice; or a single-out fielder's
choice (not a double play).
- Official credit to a batter for driving in a run.
- Runners in scoring position.
- Another term for catcher. Also backstop, signal caller.
- The 162 game schedule that all Major League Baseball teams usually
complete. However, if a special one-game playoff is required to determine
which team goes to the league division championship series (the ALDS
or the NLDS), this 163rd game is also counted as part of the regular
season. All team and player statistics from this game are also counted
as regular season statistics. For example, if a pitcher wins his 20th
game in the 163rd game played in the one-game playoff, he would be a
"20 game winner" for the season. Similarly, a batter's performance in
that extra game might determine whether he wins the title for best batting
average or most home runs in the season.
- On occasion, teams do not complete every game of the regular season, specifically
when playing a make-up game owing to the previous suspension or cancellation
of a game due to weather or some other factor would require scheduling
hardships and when the outcome of that game would not affect which teams
might make the playoffs.
- A standard baseball game lasts nine innings, although some leagues
(such as high school baseball) use seven-inning games. The team with
the most runs at the end of the game wins. If the home team is ahead
after eight-and-a-half innings have been played, it is declared the
winner, and the last half-inning is not played. If the home team is
trailing or tied in the last inning and they score to take the lead,
the game ends as soon as the winning run touches home plate; however,
if the last batter hits a home run to win the game, he and any runners
on base are all permitted to score.
- If both teams have scored the same number of runs at the end of a
regular-length game, a tie is avoided by the addition of extra innings.
As many innings as necessary are played until one team has the lead
at the end of an inning. Thus, the home team always has a chance to
respond if the visiting team scores in the top half of the inning; this
gives the home team a small tactical advantage. In theory, a baseball
game could go on forever; in practice, however, they eventually end
(although see Longest professional baseball game). In addition to that
rule, a game might theoretically end if both the home and away team
were to run out of players to substitute.
- A defensive technique where the ball is thrown by an outfielder to
an infielder who then throws to the final target. This is done because
accurate throws are more difficult over long distances and the ball
loses a considerable amount of speed the farther it must be thrown.
Also cut-off. Also the second throw during a double-play. As in "They
were only able to get the lead runner because the relay was not in time."
- A relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher brought in the game as a substitute
for (i.e., "to relieve") another pitcher.
- A relief pitcher or reliever is a baseball or softball pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, ejection from the game or fatigue.
retire the batter
- To get the batter out.
retire the runner
- To throw the runner out at a base.
retire the side
- See side retired.
- An argument or fight in a baseball game. Hence, Rhubarb, a novel by
H. Allen Smith.
- Slang for a run batted in (RBI).
- A very strong arm. A cannon, a bazooka, a gun. Also used as a verb, "He rifled the ball home to catch the runner."
- A batter can also be said to rifle a ball when he hits a hard line drive.
"Griffey rifles the ball . . . foul, just outside
ring him up
- A strikeout. The phrase is probably drawn by analogy to cashiers who ring
up the total on the cash register when a customer is ready to pay up.
It also comes from the "cha-ching" motion that plate umpires use to
signal a strikeout.
- To hit a hard line drive, as in "He ripped a single through the right side."
- A hard swing, usually one that misses the ball: "Reyes took a good rip at that pitch."
- Acronym for Runners In Scoring Position. See Runner
In Scoring Position.
- A game played away from a baseball club's home stadium. When a team plays away from home, it's on a "road trip" and is the "visiting team" at the home stadium of another team.
- A series of road games or away games occurs on a road trip, a term derived
from the days when teams indeed traveled from one town to another by
roadway or railroad.
- When a fielder makes a spectacular play the denies the batter
a hit or a home run, the batter may be said to have been "robbed"
by the fielder -- as if the fielder had taken away something that
belonged to the hitter. Headline: "A-Rod robbed of HR, Joba will
- When a questionable call is made by an umpire that leads to losing
a game, the losing team or its fans may complain that the team was
"robbed". "Braves Robbed of a Win . . . was Beltran
Out at 3rd in the 9th?"
- A slightly derogatory acronym for a right-handed relief specialist. Stands
for "Righty One Out GuY".
- Conventionally, rookie is a term for athletes in their first year of play
in their sport. In Major League Baseball, special rules apply for eligibility
for the Rookie of the Year award in each league. To be eligible, a player
must have accumulated, prior to the current season:
- Fewer than 130 at bats and 50 innings pitched in the major leagues or
- Fewer than 45 days on the active rosters of major league clubs
(excluding time on the disabled list or any time after rosters are
expanded on September 1).
- A ball hit directly to a fielder such that he hardly has to move to get it.
- A spinning ball rolling on wet grass that kicks up a line or tail of water behind it.
- A hard line drive. Also see "frozen rope".
- The official list of players who are eligible to play in a given game
and to be included on the lineup card for that game. Major League Baseball
limits the regular-season active roster to 25 players during most of
the season, but additional players may be on the disabled list, and
the roster can be expanded to as many as 40 active players after August
31st by bringing up players on the 40-man roster.
- A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three or four days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four or five starting pitchers on their roster. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, are known as "the rotation." In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common.
- Often a manager identifies pitchers by their order in the rotation,
"number 1," "number 2," etc. "Discussions over
whether Jason Schmidt or Brad Penny is more deserving to occupy the
No. 2 spot in the starting rotation behind Derek Lowe can cease, as
- An offense has "roughed up" the opposing pitcher when it hits his
pitches hard and scores several runs. Akin to beating somebody up. Headline:
"Hill Roughed Up in Loss to Pirates."
- A curveball that instead of breaking sharply makes a more gradual
loop. "One Boston writer in the late-'40s summed up Joe Dobson's roundhouse
curveball this way: 'It started out somewhere around the dugout and
would end up clipping the outside corner of the plate. There are curveballs,
and there are curveballs.'"
- A home run. The analogy is to a commuter who buys a round-trip ticket
from home plate to second base and back again to home.
- The rubber, formally termed the pitching plate, is a white rubber
strip the front of which is exactly sixty feet six inches (18.4 m) from
the rear point of home plate. A pitcher will push off the rubber with
his foot in order to gain velocity toward home plate when pitching.
- A pitcher is said to have a "rubber arm" if he can throw many pitches without tiring. Relief pitchers who have the ability to pitch consecutive days with the same effectiveness tend to be known as "rubber arms."
- A term used for the last game of a series when the two teams have
evenly split the previous games. Originally a card-playing term.
- A player who advances around all the bases to score is credited with a run. The team with the most runs wins the game.
- A manager "runs his players" when he calls on them to steal bases and to be
generally aggressive in trying to advance extra bases when the ball
is in play.
- A player or coach may be "run" by an umpire by being ejected from a game.
- A play in which a runner is stranded between two bases, and runs back
and forth to try to avoid fielders with the ball. The fielders (usually
basemen) toss the ball back and forth, to prevent the runner from getting
to a base, and typically close in on him and tag him. Also called a
hotbox or a pickle. Sometimes used as a baserunning strategy
by a trailing runner, to distract the fielders and allow a leading runner
- To be ejected from the game.
runners at the
- runners on 1st and 3rd, with 2nd base open.
runners in scoring
- Runners on 2nd or 3rd base are said to be in scoring position, i.e.,
a typical base hit should allow them to reach home. Batting Average
with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) is used as an approximation
of clutch hitting. Game announcers are apt to put up and comment on
the latter statistic during a broadcast to set the stage for an at bat.
A good hitter is expected to have a higher batting average when there
are runners in scoring position.
- A home run that travels very far. After famous slugger Babe Ruth.
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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