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Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "S")

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_baseball






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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.

0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

S

sabermetrics

Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics. The term is derived from the SABR – the Society for American Baseball Research. The term was coined by Bill James, an enthusiastic proponent and its most notable figure.

sack

  • Synonymous with bag — 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base.
  • A player who plays a particular base might be called a sacker. Most often this term is used to describe the second sacker (second baseman). Together the second sacker and the short-stop may be referred to as sackmates because they often coordinate or share the coverage or play at second base. See double play.

sacrifice bunt

A sacrifice bunt (also called a sacrifice hit or simply a "sacrifice") is the act of deliberately bunting the ball in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base, while the batter is himself put out. If the sacrifice is successful, the batter is not charged with an at bat (AB). But he is credited with an SAC or S or SH.

sacrifice fly

When a batter hits a fly ball to the outfield which is caught for an out, but a runner scores from 3rd base after tagging up or touching the bag following the catch. The batter is credited with an RBI and is not charged with an at bat. Also referred to as "sac fly," abbreviated as SF.

safe hit (aka) safety

A base hit or "base knock." Getting "safely on (first) base" after hitting the ball without the interposition of a fielding error.

safety squeeze

A squeeze play in which the runner on third waits for the batter to lay down a successful bunt before breaking for home. Contrast this with the suicide squeeze.

salad

An easily handled pitch.

salami

A grand slam home run.

Sally League

The South Atlantic League ("SAL"), a Class A minor baseball league with teams located mainly in the southeastern United States.

sandwich round

In the Major League Baseball Draft, a round of drafts that occurs between the first and second rounds, and again between the second and the third, comprising solely compensatory drafts granted to teams that failed to sign their first or second round draft picks of the year before.

save

In baseball statistics the term save (abbreviated SV, or sometimes, S) is used to indicate the successful maintenance of a lead by a relief pitcher, usually the closer, until the end of the game. A save is credited to a pitcher who fulfills the following three conditions:
  1. The pitcher is the last pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. The pitcher is not the winning pitcher (For instance, if a starting pitcher throws a complete game win or, alternatively, if the pitcher gets a blown save and then his team scores a winning run while he is the pitcher of record, sometimes known as a "vulture win.");
  3. The pitcher fulfills at least one of the following three conditions:
    1. He comes into the game with a lead of no more than three runs.
    2. He comes into the game with the potential tying run being either on base, at bat, or on deck.
    3. He pitches effectively for at least three innings after entering the game with a lead and finishes the game.
If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, even if his team comes back to win. No more than one save may be credited in each game.
If a relief pitcher satisfies all of the criteria for a save, except he does not finish the game, he will often be credited with a hold.
The third rule can be contentious, as it is subject to the judgment of the official scorer.
The last criterion in that rule can lead to ludicrous results. On August 22, 2007, the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 30 to 3. The winning pitcher, Kason Gabbard, pitched 6 innings, and left the game with a 14-3 lead. The Rangers' relief pitcher, Wes Littleton, pitched three scoreless innings, while his team went on to score another 16 runs, including 6 runs in the 9th inning. In return for protecting his team's lead for the last three innings, Littleton was awarded a "save."

save situation

Generally, a save situation is when a pitcher enters the game with a lead of three runs or fewer and finishes the game, or with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle. Most of the time, the saving pitcher pitches one or more innings. Also called a save opportunity.

saw off

When a pitcher gets a batter to hit the ball on the handle, and the batter hits the ball weakly or even breaks his bat, the pitcher may be said to have sawed off the bat. "If the bat handles are getting "sawed off" in players' hands or shattering into splinters, it's because players are ordering bats too thin to withstand the impact of a 90 mile-per-hour fast ball."

scoring position

A runner on 2nd or 3rd base is in scoring position, as he is presumed to have a good chance to score on a base hit to the outfield.

scratch hit

A weakly hit ground ball that eludes the infielders and leads to a base hit. A bleeder.

screaming line drive

Also a screamer. A line drive that is hit extremely hard, perhaps hard enough to knock the glove out of the hand of a fielder or to be so hard that the pitcher cannot get out of the way before he is hit by the ball. "I distinctly remember watching the game where Jon Matlack was hit in the head by a screaming line drive off the bat of Marty Perez and it bounced off his head. I also remember watching the night Cal Ripken hit a screamer right into Andy Pettitte's mouth. Both were a nauseating sight but this one must have been much worse. Baseball can be a dangerous game for the players and also the spectators."

screwball

A pitch that curves to the same side as the side it was thrown from. For a right-hand pitcher, the ball would break to the right — it would break "in" to a right-hand hitter. SYNONYMS: reverse curve, fadeaway, fader, screwgie, scroogie, reverse curveball.

seal the win

To finish off the opposing team and end the game. "Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon nearly blew the game with a walk and an error, so he had plenty to celebrate when he then whiffed the dangerous Tampa Bay trio of Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to seal the win". See also nailed and shuts the door.

seamer

  • 2 seamer – a "two seam fastball" where the ball is held by the pitcher such that, when thrown, its rotation only shows two seams per revolution
  • 4 seamer – like a 2 seamer, but the rotation shows 4 seams per revolution of the ball. Batters count the number of visible seams to help judge the kind of pitch by its rotation.

seasoning

The time-period when a struggling major-league player is temporarily sent down to the minors (most likely AAA) in the hope that the player can improve his skills enough to return to the major-league club. This can also refer more broadly to the time that a team keeps a young up-and-coming player in the minor-leagues, so as to give the player time to continue to develop their skills, before they are brought up to the major leagues.

seed

Term used to describe any hit that is hit so hard it barely has an arc on it. See rip. Also refers to any thrown ball with the same characteristic, typically in the infield.

seeing-eye ball

A batted ground ball that just eludes capture by an infielder, just out of infielder's range, as if it could "see" where it needed to go. Less commonly used for a ball that takes an unusual lateral bounce to elude an infielder. Sometimes called a seeing-eye single. See ground ball with eyes.

Senior Circuit

The National League, so-called because it is the older of the two major leagues, founded in 1876. As opposed to the Junior Circuit, the American League, which was founded in 1901.

sent down

A major league player may be sent down or demoted to a minor league team either before or during the season. When this occurs during the season, another player is usually called up or promoted from the minor leagues or placed on the active roster after being removed from the disabled list.

sent to the showers

When a pitcher is removed from the lineup, he is sometimes said to be "sent to the showers" because his work for the day is done. Theoretically it is possible for him to be removed as pitcher and kept in the lineup as a designated hitter or even as a position player. But this is a very rare occurrence in the professional game, and is more frequent in the amateur game, especially in NCAA competition.

series

A set of games between two teams. During the regular season, teams typically play 3- or 4-game series against one another, with all of the games in the series played in the home park of one of the teams. The set of all games played between two teams during the regular season is referred to as the season series. For games played between teams in a single league, the regular season series includes an equal number of games in the home parks of each team. Its purpose is to minimize travel costs and disruptions in the very long major league baseball season.
In the playoffs, series involve games played in the home stadiums of both teams. Teams hope to gain from having a home field advantage by playing the first game(s) in their own ballpark.

serve up

To throw a pitch that gets hit hard, typically for a home run, as if the pitcher were intentionally giving the batter an easy pitch to hit. Question in a baseball history quiz: "Who served up Tino Martinez’ Game One Grand Slam in the 1998 World Series?". "The Sultan reports that Weaver is only the fourth pitcher in the DH era to serve up three gopherballs in one year to his fellow pitchers."

set the table

To get runners on base ahead of the power hitters in the lineup.

setup pitcher

A relief pitcher who is consistently used immediately before the closer.

seventh-inning stretch

The period between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, when the fans present traditionally stand up to stretch their legs. A sing-along of the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has become part of this tradition, a practice most associated with Chicago broadcaster Harry Caray. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, "God Bless America" is sometimes played in addition to, or in lieu of, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the attacks, especially at home games of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. This occurs on Opening Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, September 11th, Sundays and during the All-Star Game, and post-season including the World Series. In Milwaukee fans often sing "Roll Out the Barrel" after the traditional song.

shade

A player (usually an outfielder) who positions himself slightly away from his normal spot in the field based on a prediction of where the batter might hit the ball he is said to "shade" toward right or left.

shagging flies

Catching fly balls in the outfield when not involved in actual baseball games. "While the other pitchers looked bored just shagging flies, he was busting a few dance moves to the music coming over the loudspeakers."

shelled

A pitcher who is giving up numerous hits, especially extra base hits, is said to be getting shelled – as if under siege by enemy artillery.

shake off

  • A player, typically a pitcher, who has a bad game or series, may be said to be trying to shake off the experience and regain his usual performance level. Detroit News headline: "Miner Tries to Shake Off Poor Start."
  • A pitcher who disagrees with the catcher's call for the next pitch may shake off the sign by shaking his head "no," thereby telling the catcher to call for a different pitch. If the pitcher shakes off several signs in a row, the catcher may call time out and walk to the mound to talk to the pitcher.

shift

Where all infielders and/or outfielders position themselves clockwise or counter-clockwise from their usual position. This is to anticipate a batted ball from a batter who tends to hit to one side of the field. Also shade. In the case of some batters, especially with left-handed batters and the bases empty, managers have been known to shift fielders from the left side to the right side of the diamond. The most extreme case was the famous "Ted Williams shift" (also once called the "Lou Boudreau shift"). Cleveland Indians manager Boudreau moved 6 of 7 fielders (including himself, the shortstop) to the right of second base, leaving just the leftfielder playing shallow, and daring Teddy Ballgame to single to left rather than trying to "hit it where they ain't" somewhere on the right side. Williams saw it as a challenge, a game within The Game, and seldom hit the ball to left on purpose in that circumstance.

shine ball

One way for a pitcher to doctor the ball is to rub one area of the ball hard to affect the ball's flight toward the plate.

shoestring catch

When a fielder, usually an outfielder, catches a ball just before it hits the ground ("off his shoetops"), and remains running while doing so.

shoot the cripple

When the pitch count is 3 balls and no strikes, the pitcher is presumed to need to pitch inside in order to obtain a strike. The name comes from the belief that the next pitch will be easy to hit; since the pitcher has to throw a strike in order to pull close in the count, getting a hit will be as easy as "shooting a cripple".

short hop

A ball that bounces immediately in front of an infielder. If the batter is a fast runner, an infielder may intentionally "short hop the ball" (take the ball on the short hop) to hasten his throw to first base. Balls may be short-hopped to turn a double play, but it may backfire sometimes. For example, Carlos Guillen had a ground ball that bounced to him, and he short hopped it, however, it went off his glove and went high in the air.

short porch

When one of the outfield walls is closer to home plate than normal, the stadium may be said to have a short porch. For example, Yankee Stadium has long had a short porch in right field.

shorten his swing

See "cut down on his swing".

shorten the game

A team that has a strong staff of relief pitchers is sometimes said to have the ability to shorten games: "The Tigers will be fearsome postseason opponents because of their bullpen's ability to shorten games." If the team gets ahead in the first six innings, its bullpen can be counted on to hold the lead; thus the opponent needs to grab an early lead to still have a chance in the last few innings to win the game.

shot

  • A home run, as in "Ryan Howard's 2-run shot gives him 39 home runs for the year."

the Show

The major leagues. Particularly "in the Show." Or in "the Bigs" (big leagues, major leagues).

shutout

According to the Dickson dictionary, the term derives from horseracing, in which a bettor arrives at the window too late to place a bet, due to the race already having started, so the bettor is said to be "shut out" (this specific usage was referenced in the film The Sting).
  • A team shuts out its opponent when it prevents them from scoring any runs in a given game.
  • "Santana shut out the Royals with a 3-hitter" means that the Royals went scoreless as Santana pitched a complete-game shutout. The pitcher or pitchers on the winning team thus get statistical credit for an individual shutout or a combined-to-pitch-shutout, respectively.
shuts the door
Term used to describe when a pitcher, generally the closer, finishes the ballgame with a save or makes the last out (or fails to do so): "No one from the Brandeis bullpen was able to shut the door in the top of the ninth in Tuesday’s game." Also used more generally to describe a victory: "Thomas, Halladay slam door shut on Dodgers."

side retired

When the third out of an inning is called, the "side is retired" and the other team takes its turn at bat. A pitcher or a defensive team can be said to have "retired the side." The goal of any pitcher is to face just three batters and make three outs: to "retire the side in order," have a "one-two-three inning," or have "three up, three down."

sidearmer

A pitcher who throws with a sidearm motion, i.e., not a standard overhanded delivery.

sign

  • A catcher is said to call the game by sending signs to the pitcher calling for a particular pitch. After he moves into his crouch, the catcher gives the sign by placing his non-glove hand between his legs and using his fist, fingers, wags, or taps against his inner thigh to tell the pitcher what type of pitch to throw (fastball, curve, etc.) as well as the location. A pitcher may wave off (shake his head "no" to) the initial sign or nod in agreement when he receives the sign that he wants before going into his windup. If there is a runner on second base, a catcher may change the location of his glove (from his knee to the ground, for example) to signal the pitcher that he is using an alternate set of signs so that the runner won't be able to steal the sign.
  • A coach sends signs to players on the field, typically using a sequence of hand movements. He may send signs to offensive players, including batters and runners, about what to do on the next pitch — for example, to sacrifice bunt, to take or to swing away at the next pitch; to steal a base; or to execute a hit-and-run. He may send signs to the catcher to call for a pitchout or to intentionally walk the batter.

single

A one-base hit.

sinker

A pitch, typically a fastball, that breaks sharply downward as it crosses the plate. Also see drop ball.

sitting on a pitch

A batter who is waiting for a particular type of pitch before swinging at it. He may be sitting in waiting for, say, a curveball or a change-up, or a pitch thrown in a certain location, and he won't swing at anything else even if it's down the middle of the plate. Sometimes hitters who know a pitcher's pattern of pitches, or what type of pitch he likes to throw in a given count, sit on that particular pitch. This approach stems from the advice Rogers Hornsby gave to Ted Williams, telling him that the secret to hitting was simply to "wait for a good pitch to hit".

situational hitting

When a batter changes his strategy depending on the game situation: the inning, number of outs, number of men on base, or the score. He may not swing for the fences or even try to get a base hit, but instead make a sacrifice bunt or try to get a sacrifice fly or make contact with the ball in some other way.

skids

A team that is on the skids is having a losing streak, perhaps a severe one that threatens to ruin their chances at the playoffs or to drop them into the cellar. Headline: "Yankees Remain on the Skids". Also used in the singular, skid, for a losing streak or hitless streak: "Peralta's single in the fourth ended an 0-for-26 skid."

skipper or skip

A manager. Taken from the boating term skipper, the captain or commanding officer of a ship.

sky

Used as a verb: to hit a fly ball. "Sizemore skies one. . . .Caught by the right fielder."

skyscraper

A very high fly ball. Sometimes referred to as a "rainmaker" because it is so high it may touch the clouds.

slant

A pitch. This is now a rare usage. Headline in New York Times: "Pfeffer's Slants Bewilder Quakers – Brooklyn Moundsman Shows Form That Made Him Famous and Phillies Lose, 5 to 0". "Brooklyn garnered only seven safeties off the slants of Johnny Antonelli and two relievers."

slap hitter

A hitter who sacrifices power for batting average, trying to make contact with the ball and "hit it where they ain't". Prime examples: Willie Keeler, Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Rod Carew, and Ichiro Suzuki.

slice foul

When a fly ball or line drive starts out over fair territory, then curves into foul territory due to aerodynamic force caused by spinning of the ball, imparted by the bat. A slice curves away from the batter (ie: it curves to the right for a right-handed batter and to the left for a left-handed batter).

slide

  • A slide is when a player drops to the ground when running toward a base, to avoid a tag and (in the case of second or third base) as a means of stopping, so as not to overrun the base and risk being put out. Players also sometimes slide head-first into first base. If former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean had seen something like that, he'd probably have said the player never should have "slud into first".
  • A team having a losing streak is in a slide or on the skids.

slider

A relatively fast pitch with a slight curve in the opposite direction of the throwing arm.

slug

To hit with great power.

slugfest

An exceptionally high scoring game, typically one in which both teams score a lot of runs. The opposite of a slugfest is a pitcher's duel.

slugger

Any person who commonly hits with great power. A batter with a high slugging percentage.

slugging average

A measure of the power of a hitter, calculated as total bases divided by at bats. Often abbreviated as SLG or SA. Just as a "perfect" batting average would be 1.000 (read "one thousand") a "perfect" slugging average would be 4.000 (read "four thousand"). Also referred to as "slugging percentage".

slump

An extended period when player or team is not performing well or up to expectations. A dry spell or drought. What the Chicago Cubs have been experiencing for the past century.

slurve

A pitch that's a cross between a slider and a curve.

small ball

A strategy by which teams attempt to score runs using station-to-station, bunting and sacrifice plays; usually used in a situation where one run will either tie or win the game; manufacturing runs; close kin to inside baseball.

smoke

  • A pitcher who throws smoke throws the ball so hard that the batter is likely only to see the ball's (imaginary) smoke trail.
  • To smoke the hitter inside is to throw an inside fastball that batter is unable to hit.
  • When a play-by-play reporter exclaims That ball was smoked! he implies that it was hit so hard that all you could see of the ball is its (imaginary) smoke trail.

snicker

A type of foul ball in which the batter grazes ("snicks") the ball with the bat. The ball continues toward the catcher, with a slightly modified trajectory, making it a difficult catch.

snow cone

Descriptive of a catch made with the ball barely caught in the tip of a glove's webbing. Variant on "ice cream cone".

soft hands

A fielder's ability to cradle the ball well in his glove. Contrast hard hands. "I was teaching the players to field the ball out front and 'give in' with the ball and bring it up to a throwing position. The analogy I used was to pretend the ball is an egg and give in with it. I consider this to be 'soft' hands."

soft toss

When a coach or teammate from a position adjacent the hitter throws a ball under-hand to allow the hitter to practice hitting into a net or fence.

soft tosser

A pitcher who doesn't have a really fast fastball. "Jones, a soft tosser when compared to the Tigers’ other hard throwers, struck out Posada, retired Cano on a soft fly, and got Damon to fly out."

solo home run

A home run hit when there are no runners on base, so the batter circles the bases solo. It is the only thing that can take away a perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout with one swing of the bat.

sophomore jinx

The tendency for players to follow a good rookie season with a less-spectacular one. (This term is used outside the realm of baseball as well.) Two of the most notorious examples are Joe Charboneau and Mark Fidrych. The statistical term for the sophomore jinx is "regression to the mean".

southpaw

Left-hander, especially a pitcher. Most baseball stadiums are built so that home plate is in the west and the outfield is in the east, so that when the sun sets it is not in the batter's eye. Because of this, a left-handed pitcher's arm is always facing south when he faces the plate. Thus he has a "southpaw."

spank

  • To hit the ball, typically a line drive to the opposite field.
  • To win a game handily or decisively. Headline: "Tigers Spank KC 13-1. Did the Royals Wave the White Flag?"

sparkplug

A fireplug. A player known for his aggressive, never-say-die attitude (though perhaps modest ability) who may help to spark his team into a rally or a win. "Versalles was the sparkplug that led the 1965 Twins to their first World Series."

speed merchant

A fast player, often collecting stolen bases, bunt singles and/or infield hits.

speedster

A fast runner.

spike

A runner can "spike" an infielder by sliding into him and causing an injury with the spikes of his shoes.

spitter

A spitball pitch in which the ball has been altered by the application of spit, petroleum jelly, or some other foreign substance.

split-finger

A fastball that breaks sharply toward the ground just before reaching the plate due to the pitcher's grip; his first two fingers are spread apart to put a downward spin on the ball. Also called a forkball, splitter or Mr. Splitee.

splits

A player's splits are his performance statistics broken down or split into categories such as batting average against right-handed vs. left-handed pitchers, in home games vs. away games, or in day games vs. night games. When statistics are split in such a way they may reveal patterns that allow a manager to use (perhaps to platoon) a player strategically where he can be most effective. Sabermetricians may use such splits to investigate patterns that explain overall performance, including topics such as whether a pitcher may have doctored the ball during home games.

spot starter

A pitcher who starts an occasional game (perhaps only one game) who is not a regular starter in the rotation. This is a pitcher who is already on a team's roster and usually works as a relief pitcher. In contrast to a spot starter, who is already on the roster, an emergency starter is typically a player who is brought up from the minor leagues on very short notice because a regular starter is injured. Sometimes, however, even a player who is already on the roster may be referred to as an emergency starter if his starting role arises because the regularly scheduled starter has been injured.

spray hitter

A batter who hits line drives to all fields. Not a pull hitter.

Spring training

In Major League Baseball, spring training consists of work-outs and exhibition games that precede the regular season. It serves the purpose of both auditioning players for final roster spots and giving players practice prior to competitive play. The managers and coaches use spring training to set their opening-day 25-man roster.

squad

Team.

squeeze play

A tactic used to attempt to score a runner from third on a bunt. There are two types of squeeze plays: suicide squeeze and safety squeeze. In a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off towards home plate as soon as the pitcher begins his throw toward home plate. In a safety squeeze, the runner waits until the batter makes contact with the ball before committing himself to try to reach home.

squibber

A nubber.

stanza

An inning. "In that stanza, however, the Tigers . . . clawed their way back into the ballgame."

staff

The "pitching staff," the pitchers on the team's roster, who nowadays typically number 11 or 12 of the 25 men on the active roster.

stand-up

Usually used in conjunction with the word "double" or "triple", as in "a stand-up double"; this refers to an extra-base hit in which the runner reaches base easily without needing to slide (hence, he remains standing up as he touches the bag).

starting pitcher

The starting pitcher (or "starter") is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A starter is expected to pitch at least five innings, in contrast with relievers who often pitch just three, two or one or even fractional innings. In fact, by the scoring rules, a starter must complete five innings in order to qualify as the winning pitcher in the game, though he need face only a single batter to become the losing pitcher if his team immediately falls behind and stays behind for the remainder of the game.

station

A player's assigned defensive position.

station-to-station

Oddly enough, this term can mean completely different things. It can be referred to as a close relative of inside baseball, where hit-and-runs and base-stealing are frequent. It can also mean its exact opposite, where a team takes fewer chances of getting thrown out on the bases by cutting down on steal attempts and taking the extra base on a hit; therefore, the team will maximize the number of runs scored on a homer.

stathead

Statheads use statistical methods to analyze baseball game strategy as well as player and team performance. They use the tools of sabermetrics to analyze baseball.

stats

Short for "statistics", the numbers generated by the game: runs, hits, errors, strikeouts, batting average, earned run average, fielding average, etc. Most of the numbers used by players and fans are not true mathematical statistics, but the term is in common usage.

stayed alive

When a batter who already has two strikes swings at but fouls off a pitch, perhaps just a foul tip, he may be said to have "stayed alive." He (or his at bat) will live to see another pitch. Similarly, when a team that's facing elimination from the playoffs wins a game, it may be said to have "stayed alive" to play another game. "Milwaukee stays alive in the playoffs with a 4-1 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of their National League Division Series from Miller Park."

steady diet

When a batter shows that it's easier to get him out with a certain type of pitch, he may receive a "steady diet" of that type of pitch thrown. Headline: "Phillies' Howard Gets a Steady Diet of Curveballs".

steaks

RBIs. Derived from the pronunciation of RBIs as Ribeye.

steal, stealing

See stolen base

stealing signs

When a team that is at bat tries to see the sign the catcher is giving to the pitcher (indicating what type of pitch to throw), the team is said to be stealing signs. This may be done by a runner who is on base (typically second base) watching the catcher's signs to the pitcher and giving a signal of some kind to the batter. (To prevent this, the pitcher and catcher may change their signs when there is a runner on second base.) Sometimes a first-base or third-base coach might see a catcher's signs if the catcher isn't careful. In unusual cases, the signs may be read through binoculars by somebody sitting in the stands, perhaps in center field, and sending a signal to the hitter in some way.
When a hitter is suspected of peeking to see how a catcher is setting up behind the plate as a clue to what pitch might be coming or what the intended location is, then the pitcher will usually send the hitter a message: stick it in his ear.

stepping in the bucket

A phrase for an "open" batting stance, in which the hitter's leading foot is aligned away from the plate (toward left field for a right-handed batter). The stance reduces power in the swing and slows the hitter's exit toward first base, however, many players believe it allows them to see the pitch better, and more naturally drive the ball to the opposite field. Babe Ruth criticized a young ballplayer in the 1931 short "Slide, Babe, Slide," for "stepping in the bucket."

stick it in his ear

"Stick it in his ear!" is a cry that that may come from fans in the stands, appealing to the home team pitcher to be aggressive (throw the ball at the opposing batter). The line is attributed originally, however, to Leo Durocher.

stolen base

In baseball, a stolen base (or "steal") occurs when a baserunner successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is delivering the ball to home plate. In baseball statistics, stolen bases are denoted by SB. If the catcher thwarts the stolen base by throwing the runner out, the event is recorded as caught stealing (CS). Also see uncontested steal.

stolen first

The successful advancement of a batter to first base following an uncaught third strike. While the base has been "stolen" in practical terms, statistics do not actually register the incident as a "stolen base".

stone fingers

A player who misplays easy ground balls. Also see hard hands. Pittsburgh Pirates first-baseman Dick Stuart was given the label "Stone Fingers" (a reference to the James Bond movie Goldfinger) as well as the nickname "Dr. Strangeglove" (a reference to the movie Dr. Strangelove).

stopper

This term originally referred to a team's best starting pitcher, who would be called upon to stop a losing streak. Now it generally refers to the team's top relief pitcher.

strand the runner

To leave a runner on base, especially in scoring position, is to "strand the runner." This phrase is often used when a runner reaches base with no outs or one out but the rest of the offense fails to get him home. A lead-off hitter who hits a triple but does not score is one of most disappointing examples of stranding a runner. The odds favor his scoring in this situation. On average when a team has a runner on third with no outs, it scores 1.5 runs, and the team scores at least 1 run 86% of the time.

streak

  • A series of consecutive wins (a winning streak) or losses (a losing streak). Also, a string, especially if referring to a series of wins.
  • A series of games in which a batter gets a hit (hitting streak) or fails to get a hit (hitless streak), or accomplishes some other feat of interest (e.g, gets a stolen base or hits a home run).

stretch

  • To pitch from a stretch is to begin the pitching motion by facing sideways relative to home plate, raising one's arms at the elbow and bringing the glove hand and pitching hand together in a full stop, then hurling the ball toward the plate. This is the usual pitching motion when there are men on base, so that the pitcher can check on the runners before throwing home. Sometimes, however, pitchers use a stretch even when the bases are empty.
  • To stretch a hit is to take an additional base on a hit, typically by aggressive running. "Damon stretched that single to a double with his hustle." "Glaus got caught trying to stretch a double to a triple."
  • Also see seventh-inning stretch.

strike

  • When a batter swings at a pitch, but fails to hit it, when a batter does not swing at a pitch that is thrown within the strike zone, when the ball is hit foul and the strike count is less than 2 (a batter cannot strike out on a foul ball, however he can fly out), when a ball is bunted foul, regardless of the strike count, when the ball touches the batter as he swings at it, when the ball touches the batter in the strike zone, or when the ball is a foul tip.
  • A particularly hard, accurate throw by a fielder attempting to put out a baserunner (or a particularly hard, accurate pickoff attempt by the pitcher) is sometimes referred to as throwing a strike. This is an unofficial usage, employed primarily by broadcasters and writers. "Racing to his left on the crack of the bat, Ichiro [Suzuki] reached Albert Pujols' line drive in the corner, wheeled and fired a strike to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to cut down the Cardinal at second."

strike em out/throw em out

A double play in which a batter strikes out and the catcher then immediately throws out a baserunner trying to steal.

strike out the side

A pitcher is said to "strike out the side" when he retires all three batters in a half inning by striking them out.

strike zone

An imaginary box used to call strikes. The Rules Book definition is that the strike zone "is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The strike zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball." When, in the plate umpire's judgment, the ball passes through the strike zone and the batter does not swing, one strike is called (a called strike as opposed to a swinging strike).
The formal definition of the upper limit of the strike zone is sometimes reduced to "the letters", i.e., the area of the uniform shirt where the team's name usually appears; or, as some plain-speaking types say, "the nipple line". (Taking the anatomical comparisons further, the ever-earthy Ted Williams used to describe certain good pitches to hit as being "at cock level").
Despite the formal rules, umpires differ in the strike zones that they recognize. Major League Baseball has experimented in recent years with the QuesTec system, which uses laser light technology to standardize the zone and to measure umpires' personal strike zones. But balls and strikes are still called by umpires, not machines. Whether a pitch is a ball or a strike is typically the focal point of arguments during a game. The rules prohibit managers from leaving the dugout to protest ball-and-strike calls, the penalty for which is ejection.

string

A series of consecutive wins. A winning streak.

struck out looking

A batter called out on strikes without swinging on the third strike is said to have "struck out lookin'." Labeled with a backwards "K" by some scorecard keepers. Sports commentators have also been known to use the slang term "just browsing" when showing a batter that's "struck out looking" on Sportscenter or other related shows.

struck out swinging

A batter called out on strikes when swinging at the third strike is said to have "struck out swinging." Usually labeled with the traditional forward "K" on scorecards.

stuff

Suppose a pitcher has three excellent pitches (fastball, slider, and change-up), a high-90 mph fastball, great command, excellent location, a rubber arm. Bound for stardom, right (assuming no injury)? Only if he has excellent stuff. A pitcher's "stuff" is an overall evaluation of how effective his pitches are; it is "good stuff" when the pitches are difficult to hit, and usually just "stuff" or sometimes even "lousy stuff" when the pitches are poor. Many factors, including location, velocity, movement, delivery, and intangibles like weather and rest, influence the quality of a pitcher's stuff on any given day.

submariner

A pitcher who throws with such a severe sidearm motion that the pitch comes from below his waist, sometimes near the ground. (A submariner does not throw underhanded, as in fastpitch softball.) See submarine.

subway series

When two teams from the same city or metropolitan area play a series of games, they are presumed to be so near to one another that they could take the subway to play at their opponent's stadium. Mets vs. Yankees would be (and is) called a subway series; a Cubs vs. White Sox series would be an "L" series; and a series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants would be (and was) the "BART" series. However, a series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would not be a subway series, because there is no subway or other rail service between Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium of Anaheim (not even the fabled but fanciful line between "Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc...amonga"). Instead such a series is referred to as a freeway series.

Sunday Funday

After winning a weekend series in college baseball, the team will party Sunday night. This is because college teams play 5 nights a week and have no free time to party except on Sundays, because they can rest on their required Monday off day.

suicide squeeze

A squeeze play in which the runner on third breaks for home on the pitch, so that, if the batter does not lay down a bunt, then the runner is an easy out (unless he steals home). Contrast this with the safety squeeze.

Summer Classic

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the Mid-Summer Classic. These annual games pit the all-stars of the National League against the all-stars of the American League. A game designed only to acknowledge and showcase the achievements of the best players in each league. Since 2003 it has been a bit more important than an exhibition game, however, because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

sweep

To win all the games in a series between two teams, whether during the regular 162-game season or during the league championships or World Series. During the regular season, pairs of teams typically square off in several 3- or 4-game series at the home parks of each team. It is also thus possible for one team to sweep a 3- or 4-game series, the "home series" (all the games a team plays at its home field against another given team), the "road series," or the "season series" between two teams. ("Sweep" was also used to mean winning both games of a doubleheader. Sweeps are also used for a college baseball team who wins all three games of a weekend series.)

swing for the downs

To swing mightily trying to hit a home run – an all-or-nothing swing. See swing for the fences. Swing for the hills.

swing for the fences

Try to hit a home run. Sometimes batters who swing for the fences rather than just trying to get a base hit only end up whiffing on the ball. "And Ruth was able to hit more homers than some teams because he played the game differently – he swung for the fences every at bat. Most players played 'fundamental' baseball – choke up on the bat, move the runner over, bunt, make contact, etc."

swing from the heels

To swing very hard at a pitch in an effort to get an extra base hit. "They swing from the heels at all times, and . . . simply refuse to go with a pitch and be satisfied with a groundball through the infield for a base hit."

switch hitter

A player who can hit from both sides of the plate, i.e., he bats both left-handed and right-handed. The reason many natural right-handers learn to either bat left-handed exclusively or to switch-hit is to give them an advantage at the plate, due to (1) the fact that most pitchers (like most humans) are naturally right-handed and (2) it can boost their ability to hit for power. A right-handed pitcher's natural throwing motion tends to bring the ball "in" toward a left-hand batter, and "away" from a right-hand batter. Thus, a player who hits well in general, and about equally well either way, is considered an asset because he is not subject to platooning of left-hand vs. right-hand pitchers. Most, if not all, switch-hitters are natural right-handers. (Notice also that a left-handed batter is closer to 1st base than a right-handed batter would be.)
One of the best-known "singles-hitting" switch hitters was Pete Rose, although later in his career the naturally right-handed Rose became exclusively a left-hand batter. Probably the most famous switch-hitting slugger was the natural right-hander Mickey Mantle, whose power at the plate was especially notable batting opposite (left) handed. In contrast, there is the old joke told by Joe Garagiola, about a nameless switch-hitter who could bat "three ways: right-handed, left-handed... and seldom!"

 


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Published - February 2011







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