It’s October, and to baseball fans and the Boys of Summer (i.e., baseball players) this month is synonymous with the baseball postseason – and this year, that’s especially true in Toronto. The playoffs and the World Series are the culmination of a hard-fought, six-month campaign – or, what often seems to non-enthusiasts like a painfully long, 162-game season.
In honour of the Toronto Blue Jays — and the other teams unlucky enough to face them in the playoffs – let’s look, once again, at some of the oddball terminology used in baseball, with thanks to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary:
- Boys in Blue – The umpires. The term was borrowed from the nickname given both to Union soldiers during the American Civil War and to modern police forces, based on their blue uniforms.
- Ducks on the Pond – Runners on base. The term was introduced to baseball in 1939 by a broadcaster, Arch McDonald, himself colourfully called the Barnum of the Bushes.
- Four Bagger – A home run. The term derives from the necessity for the hitter to circle the bases and touch all four bases – which are referred to as bags — before he scores the run.
- Money Player – A player who performs at his best when there is a lot on the line.
- Moon Shot – A home run. This slang term merged perfectly with baseball’s penchant for statistics in 1986 when statisticians determined that former Philadelphia Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt did his best hitting when the moon was full.
- Speed Merchant – A particularly fast runner who is likely to steal bases. The term can be traced back to Baseball magazine in 1910.
- The Mendoza Line – Pity poor Mario Mendoza. The shortstop, who played eight years total for three teams in the major leagues and had a career batting average of .215, low by professional standards. The term is actually used to refer to any major leaguer whose batting average is below .200, embarrassing for any pro.
And, last but not least, for Blue Jays fans:
- The Mistake on the Lake – Cleveland, referring to a city that was generally, until this year’s NBA basketball championship, unlucky in sports. Canadians can only hope the bad luck continues!
Let’s go, Blue Jays!