Appendix:Glossary of baseball jargon (B)

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The following is a glossary of baseball jargon (phrases, idioms and slang):


Appendix: Glossary of Baseball
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B[edit]

backdoor breaking ball[edit]
A breaking pitch, usually a slider or cut fastball that, due to its lateral motion, passes through a small part of the strike zone away from the hitter after appearing it would miss the plate entirely.
backstop[edit]
  • The fence behind homeplate, designed to protect spectators from wild pitches or foul tips.
  • "Backstop" is also a slang word for catcher.
bad-ball hitter[edit]
A batter who excels at hitting pitches that are outside the strike zone. Notable bad-ball hitters include Yogi Berra and Vladimir Guerrero.
bad hop[edit]
A ball that bounces in front of an infielder in an unexpected way, often as a result of imperfections in the field or the spin on the ball.
bag[edit]
A base.
bail[edit]
  • A batter who sees a pitch coming toward his head may "bail out" (hit the dirt).
  • When two fielders are converging on a fly ball, one of them may "bail out" to avoid running into the other.
  • A relief pitcher may come into the game with men on base and bail the previous pitcher out of a jam.
While the first two examples are analogues to bailing out of a plane via parachute, the last one is akin to bailing out a boat that's on the verge of being swamped, or perhaps bailing somebody who is in trouble out of jail.
balk[edit]
A ruling made by an umpire against a pitching motion that violates rules intended to prevent the pitcher from unfairly deceiving a baserunner. When a balk is called, each runner can freely advance one base. The rules specify which pitching movements are illegal. The spirit of a balk is that certain movements mean that the pitcher has begun the pitch, so the runner cannot then be picked off. Some balks result from errant or unsuccessful motions, such as when the ball slips out of the pitcher's hand. Far more rare is a catcher's balk, when the catcher moves from behind the area of the plate before the pitcher starts his delivery.
ballpark, in the ballpark, ballpark figure, out of the ballpark[edit]
Ballpark has been used to mean a broad area of approximation or similarity, or a range within which comparison is possible; this usage OED dates to 1960. Another meaning, "sphere of activity or influence", is cited in 1963. "In the (right) ballpark", meaning "within reasonable bounds" dates to 1968. A "ballpark figure" or "ballpark estimate", one that is reasonably accurate, dates to 1967.[1]
"'They said Itanium would never be their fastest 32-bit processor, but it would be in the ballpark. The original x86 hardware execution mechanism wasn't in the ballpark. It was barely in the parking lot around the ballpark,' Brookwood said.' — Stephen Shankland, "Intel plans Itanium course correction", The New York Times, 23 April 2003
"Patrick Wiles, a vice president of First Pioneer Farm Credit in Riverhead, said the 'ballpark figure' for prime vineyard land on the North Fork is $50,000 to $60,000 an acre, 'assuming the development rights have been sold.'" — Howard G. Goldberg, "Long Island Vines; Macari Price: $9.5 Million", The New York Times, 18 July 2004
ball in play[edit]
In sabermetrics, "ball in play" and "batting average on balls in play" (BABIP) have specific technical definitions that are used to determine pitchers' ability independently of the fielding defense of a team. In this definition, a home run is not a ball in play. See Defense Independent Pitching Statistics. Also see in play.
Baltimore chop[edit]
A short downward swing intended to make the ball rebound off home plate or the packed dirt immediately in front of the plate. The goal is to produce a bounce high enough so that, even if the ball can be fielded by an infielder the batter will reach first for a base hit. This was a tactic of the Baltimore Orioles of the National League in the 1890s. John McGraw is supposed to have had the earth in front of home plate compacted for this purpose. When it happens in the modern game, it is more often simply a result of poor contact that just happens to aid the batter-runner.
bandbox[edit]
A ballpark with small dimensions that encourages offense, especially home runs. A crackerbox.
bang[edit]
  • A baseball player's term for cancelling a game because of bad weather: "I thought we were gonna get banged but we got in 5 innings."
  • To hit the ball hard, especially to hit a homer. "Utley banged the game-tying home run."
  • Players who are banged up are injured, though may continue to play. Example: "Banged up Braves ready for playoff rematch with Astros."
  • A bang-up game is an exciting or close game. Example from a sports headline: "A Real Bang-Up Finish."
  • A bang bang play is one in which the runner is barely thrown out, a very close call, typically at first base. Perhaps reflecting the "bang" of the ball in the first-baseman's glove followed immediately by the "bang" of the baserunner's foot hitting the bag.
banjo hitter[edit]
A batter who lacks power. A banjo hitter usually hits bloop singles, often just past the infield dirt, and would have a low slugging percentage. The name is said to come from the twanging sound of the bat at contact, like that of a banjo.
base hit[edit]
See hit.
base knock[edit]
A single. Also see knocks.
bases loaded[edit]
Runners on first, second, and third base. Also known as "bases full," "bases packed," or "bases jammed."
basement[edit]
Last place, bottom of the standings. Also cellar.
baserunner[edit]
A baserunner (shortened as "runner") is a player on the offensive team (i.e., the team at bat) who has safely reached base.
basket catch[edit]
Catching a fly to the outfield with open glove near the belt level. The signature catch of Willie Mays.
bat[edit]
  • A baseball bat is a smooth contoured round wooden or metal rod used to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher. A bat's diameter is larger at one end (the barrel-end) than at the other (the handle). The bottom end of the handle is the knob. A batter generally tries to strike the ball in the sweet spot near the middle of the barrel-end of the bat, sometimes referred to as the fat part of the bat or the meat end of the bat.
  • The player who uses it to strike the ball — a batter, hitter, or batsman — can be said to bat the ball.
bat around[edit]
A team is said to have "batted around" after each of the nine players in the lineup makes a plate appearance and the hitter who led off the inning returns for a second at-bat in that inning.
bat the ball[edit]
To hit the ball with the bat -- whether into fair territory or foul.
batter[edit]
The player who is at bat and tries to hit the ball with the bat. Also referred to as the "hitter" or "batsman."
batter's eye[edit]
A solid-colored, usually dark area beyond the center field wall that is the visual backdrop for the batter looking out at the pitcher. It allows the batter to see the pitched ball against a dark and uncluttered background, as much for the batter's safety as anything. The use of a batter's background has been standard in baseball (as well as cricket) since at least the late 1800s.
One example of a batter's background is the black area in center field of Yankee Stadium. At one time, there were seats where the black area is now, but because of distractions the seats were removed and the area painted black.
batter's box[edit]
A rectangle on either side of home plate in which the batter must be standing for fair play to resume. Only a foot and a hand out of the box are required to stop fair play.
battery[edit]
  • The pitcher and catcher considered as a single unit. Henry Chadwick coined the term, drawing from the military sense of the term artillery battery. It also suggests a play on words, as its activities center on the batter.
  • A battery chucker is a fan who throws small batteries or other objects at the players from the stands.
batterymates[edit]
A pitcher and catcher from the same team.
batting 1000, batting a thousand[edit]
Getting everything in a series of items right. In baseball, someone with a batting average of one thousand (written as 1.000) has had a hit for every at bat in the relevant time period (e.g. in a game). AHDI dates its non-baseball usage to the 1920s.[2] May also be used ironically when someone is getting everything wrong.
"But Boston Scientific also needs to hope that a rare event does not become magnified, he said. 'It has to be pretty much batting a thousand for a time,' he said." =====Reed Abelson, [3]
batting average[edit]
Batting average (BA) is the average number of hits per at-bat (BA=H/AB). A perfect batting average would be 1.000 (read: "one thousand"). A batting average of .300 ("three hundred") is considered to be excellent, which means that the best hitters fail to get a hit in 70% of their at-bats. Even the level of .400, which is outstanding and rare (last achieved at the major league level in 1941), suggests "failure" 60% of the time. This is part of the reason OBP is now regarded by "figger filberts" as a truer measure of a hitter's worth at the plate. In 1887, there was an experiment with including bases-on-balls as hits (and at-bats) in computing the batting average. It was effectively an early attempt at an OBP, but it was regarded as a "marketing gimmick" and was dropped after the one year. It eventually put Adrian Anson in limbo regarding his career hits status; dropping the bases on balls from his 1887 stats, as some encyclopedias do, put his career number of hits below the benchmark 3,000 total.
batting practice[edit]
The period, often before a game, when players warm up or practice their hitting technique. Sometimes the term is used to describe a period within a game when one team's hitters have so totally dominated a given pitcher that the game resembles a batting practice session. Referred to colloquially as well as abbreviated as BP.
bazooka[edit]
A strong throwing arm. A gun, a cannon, a rifle.
beanball[edit]
A pitch intentionally thrown to hit the batter if he does not move out of the way, especially when directed at the head (or the "bean" in old-fashioned slang).
beat out[edit]
When a runner gets to first base before the throw, he beats the throw or beats it out. Akin to leg out. "Using his great speed, Baldelli beat it out."
behind in the count[edit]
Opposite of ahead in the count. If the pitcher is ahead in the count, the batter is behind, and vice versa.
belt[edit]
To hit a ball hard to the outfield or out of the park, fair or foul. "Pujols belted that one . . . just foul."
bench[edit]
  • "The bench" is where the players sit in the dugout when they are not at bat, in the on-deck circle, or in the field.
  • "The bench" may also refer to the players who are not in the line-up but are still eligible to enter the game (i.e., they aren't currently in the lineup or removed from it during this game). "LaRussa's bench is depleted because of all the pinch hitting and pinch running duties it's been called on to perform tonight."
bench jockey[edit]
A player, coach or manager with the talent of annoying and distracting opposition players and umpires from his team's dugout with verbal repartee. Especially useful against those with rabbit ears.
big bender[edit]
A curveball.
big fly[edit]
A long home run.
big inning[edit]
The opposite mentality of small ball, if a team is thinking "big inning" they are focusing on scoring runs strictly through base hits and home runs, as opposed to bunts or other sacrifices. More generically, a "big inning" is an inning in which the offense scores a large number of runs, usually four or more.
big leagues[edit]
Used as a noun ("You're in the big leagues now") or an adjective ("big-league lawyer"). Literally, Major League Baseball, first use dating back to 1899. The non-baseball idiomatic usage appears in 1947.[4] Contrast bush league, below.
"For a listener who last heard the New Haven Symphony in the mid-60's, in a game but scrappy performance of Britten's 'War Requiem,' its concert on Friday evening was a happy surprise. Under its music director, Michael Palmer, it sounded for the most part like a big-league band, at home in a big-league setting." --James Oestreich, [5]
bigs[edit]
The big leagues, major leagues, "the Show." If you're in the bigs you're a big leaguer, a major leaguer.
bleacher seats[edit]
Bleacher seats (in short, bleachers) are uncovered seats that are typically tiered benches or other inexpensive seats located in the outfield or in any area past the main grandstand. The term comes from the assumption that the benches are sun-bleached. "Bleachers" is short for the term originally used, "bleaching boards". Fans in the bleacher seats are sometimes called bleacher bums.
block the plate[edit]
A catcher who puts a foot, leg, or whole body between home plate and a runner attempting to score, is said to "block the plate." Blocking the plate is a dangerous tactic, and may be considered obstruction (Official Rules of Baseball, Rule 2.00 (Obstruction)).
blooper[edit]
A blooper or bloop is a weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder.
blow[edit]
  • To blow a game is to lose it after having the lead. "We had the game in hand and we blew it."
  • To blow a save is to lose a lead or the game after coming into the game in a "save situation." This has a technical meaning in baseball statistics.
  • A hit, typically a home run: "Ortiz's Blow Seals Win."
  • A blow-out is a game in which one team wins by many runs. Headline: "Penny Shines as Dodgers Blow Out Giants."
blown save[edit]
A blown save (BS) is charged to a pitcher who enters a game in a save situation but allows the tying run (and perhaps the go-ahead run) to score. If the pitcher's team does not come back to win the game, the pitcher will be charged with both a loss and a blown save. The blown save is not an officially recognized statistic by Major League Baseball. But analysts and sportscasters count blown saves to characterize the "record" of closers in a way that's analogous to won-loss records of starters. "Jones has made 31 out of 34 saves" or "Jones has 31 saves and 3 blown saves."
blowser[edit]
Rhymes with "closer". A closer who seems to get more blown saves than saves.
Blue[edit]
A term commonly used by players to address an umpire, referring to the typical dark blue color of the umpire's uniform. A derogatory term in professional baseball. Usually when complaining about a call: "Oh, come on, Blue!"
bomb[edit]
A home run.
bonehead play[edit]
A bonehead play or "boner" is a mental mistake that changes the course of a game dramatically. See "Merkle's boner".
bonus baby[edit]
A young player who received a signing bonus.
bonus baseball[edit]
Extra innings. Also called "bonus cantos" by Yankees announcer Michael Kay.
bottom (of an inning)[edit]
The second half or "last half" of an inning, during which the home team bats, derived from its position in the line score.
box[edit]
The vicinity of the pitcher's mound. Baseball announcers will sometimes refer to a batted ball going back through the pitcher's mound area as having gone through the box, or a pitcher being removed from the game will be said to have been knocked out of the box. In the early days of the game, there was no mound; the pitcher was required to release the ball while inside a box drawn on the ground. Even though the mound has replaced the box, this terminology still exists.
box score[edit]
The statistical summary of a game. The line score is an abbreviated version of the box score, duplicated from the field scoreboard. Invention of the box score is credited to Henry Chadwick.
BP[edit]
BR[edit]
Bats right; used in describing a player's statistics, for example: John Doe (TR, BR, 6', 172 lbs.)
bread and butter[edit]
A player's greatest or most reliable skill. For example: "The curveball is this pitcher's bread and butter pitch." From the more general expression, "bread and butter", denoting any person's most basic source of nourishment and strength.
break[edit]
The Break is the "All-Star Break", the 3-day period roughly halfway through the regular season during which the all-stars of the American League play a game against the all-stars of the National League. It's also a common reference point for comparing a player's statistics: before the break vs. after the break; the first half vs. the last half of the season (even though the "last half" is shorter than the "first half" — about 45% of the games remain to be played).
breaking ball[edit]
Any pitch that markedly deviates from a "straight" or expected path due to a spin used by the pitcher to achieve the desired effect. Some examples are the curveball, the slider and the screwball.
break one off[edit]
To throw a curveball.
bring[edit]
To pitch; often used for a fastball: bring the gas, bring the heat, bring it.
brush-back[edit]
A pitch intentionally thrown close to a batter to intimidate him, i.e., to "brush him back" from the plate. Also a purpose pitch or chin music. A batter targeted by such a pitch is sometimes said to get a close shave. 1950s pitcher Sal Maglie was called "the Barber" due to his frequent use of such pitches. A sportswriting wag once stated that its "purpose" was "to separate the head from the shoulders".

Its baseball usage is cited in many dictionaries[6][7][8], but its transition to the vernacular has yet to be cited or dated.

"The Washington Times' George Archibald reports that Gerald A. Reynolds, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, has sent a long overdue brush-back letter to college and university officials concerning their odious and oppressive campus speech codes." -- David Limbaugh, 2003[9]
buck and change[edit]
A player batting between .100 and .199 is said to be batting "a buck and change" or, more specifically, the equivalent average in dollars (bucks) and cents (change). Example: A batter batting .190 is said to be batting "a buck ninety". See also Mendoza line.
bullpen[edit]
  • The area used by pitchers and catchers to warm up before taking the mound when play has already begun. This area is usually off to the side along either the left or right base line, or behind an outfield fence. It is almost never in fair territory, presumably due to the risk of interference with live action. A rare exception was at New York's Polo Grounds where the bullpens were in the deep left and right center field quarter-circles of the outfield wall.
  • A team's relief pitching corps (so named because the relievers are in the bullpen during games).
bump[edit]
A slang for the mound. 'Roll a bump' is a colloquial slang for turning a 1-6-3 double play or a 1-4-3 double play.
bunt[edit]
To deliberately bat the ball weakly to a particular spot on the infield by holding the bat nearly still and letting the ball hit it. Typically, a bunt is used to advance other runners and is then referred to as a sacrifice or a sacrifice hit or a sacrifice bunt. When done correctly, fielders have no play except, at best, to throw the batter-runner out at first base.
Speedy runners also bunt for base hits when infielders are playing back. In such a situation, left-handed hitters may use a drag bunt, in which they start stepping towards first base while completing the bunt swing. Even the great slugger Mickey Mantle would drag bunt once in a while, taking advantage of his 3.1 second speed from home to first base. Currently, Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals is notable in that he is a right-handed hitter who uses drag bunts successfully.
bush league[edit]
A slang term used to describe play that is of minor league or unprofessional quality. The "bushes" or the "sticks" are small towns where minor league teams may operate, the latter term also used in the acting profession, famously in the Variety headline of July 17, 1935, "Sticks nix hick pix", meaning small towns reject motion pictures about small towns.
OED cites its first baseball use as 1906, non-baseball in 1914.[10] Contrast big league, above.
"Kinsley, who does come off as the stereotypical Los Angeles-hating East Coast wonk, said recently that because L.A. is the second biggest city in the country, 'it's really bush league to care about where the writers are from.'" --Catherine Seipp, [11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ bibliocentre
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "After a Recall, Boston Scientific Tries to Assure Wary Investors", The New York Times, July 27, 2004
  4. ^ OED
  5. ^ James Oestreich, "New Haven Symphony Orchestra Carnegie Hall", The New York Times, 25 January 1994
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ [4]
  9. ^ David Limbaugh , "Targeting speech codes on campus", The Washington Times, August 19, 2003.
  10. ^ OED
  11. ^ Catherine Seipp, "Afflict the Comfortable: Chicks on their laptops", The National Review, March 24, 2005

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