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STYLE & CULTURE

Watching the Series with the boss? Hit a dinger

Here are some tips to help even a baseball know-nothing sound game-savvy.

October 18, 2002|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

So the Series is about to start, and the boss has invited you over to watch the first game. Trouble is, your knowledge of baseball consists of a few games played in fifth-grade PE. Here, then, is a primer that should help you bluff your way through the game and keep you in line for that big raise. And remember to bring beer.

First, a couple of don'ts. Under no circumstance do you ask how many points have been scored. It's runs and runs only. Second, about foul balls: Don't ask how they can be strikes some of the time but not others. Until the batter has two strikes, fouls are bad things. After that, they are referred to as "battling" the pitcher, a good thing. That's baseball.

Now let's move on. Here are some phrases, sayings, pieces of trivia and observations that you can use in the course of the game. And remember to compliment the boss on the bean dip.

"Can-uh-corn": Actually it's "can of corn," but saying it that way is a dead giveaway of your rookieness. Mutter this several times during the game on easy fly balls to the outfield.

"I bet Kennedy never even hit three homers in a Little League game": a nonchalant reference to the fact that Adam Kennedy hit three home runs -- tying a major league record -- in the game that put the Angels in the World Series. Follow it up with the fact that the Baseball Hall of Fame has asked for the bat.

"Salmon is the real winner in all of this": An allusion to Angel veteran Tim Salmon, who's never played for any other club and who signed a five-year contract in 2001 rather than test the free agency market. Mention, too, that he was the 1993 rookie of the year, the only Angel ever to win that title.

"That's why they call it the hot corner": Say this once when a ball is hit hard to the third baseman.

"My favorite columnist is Rick Reilly": Subtly tells the boss you subscribe to "Sports Illustrated."

"I remember when the Angels played in Dodger Stadium": for older employees only. The Angels played in Dodger Stadium from 1962-65. Follow up with the fact that the Angels played their first year in Wrigley Field ... the one that was in L.A., not Chicago.

"This pitcher's got some cheese": Cheese means speed. "Heat" can also be used. Breaking pitches like curves and sliders are also called "junk." When a pitcher throws a particularly good breaking ball, use this phrase admiringly: "Man, that pitch was dirty."

"Talk about a frozen rope": a hard-hit line drive.

"We'll take a Texas Leaguer any day": a bloop single that just clears the infield.

"That ball had eyes": a ground ball that somehow gets through the infield for a hit.

"Dinger": another name for a home run. Other terms include "homer," "four bagger," "round tripper" and "tater." Dingers are often hit on a "meatball" pitch, which means one right over the plate. As in: "My grandmother could have hit that meatball out of there."

"Painting the black": when a pitcher is throwing with such precision that the ball is going over the outer edge of the plate, which is outlined in black.

"59": the professed age of the immortal Satchel Paige when he threw his last pitch in pro baseball. He may actually have been older. This is between-innings filler while munching on the nachos.

"I wish Gene could be here": a l nod to Gene Autry, the now-deceased cowboy film star who owned the Angels for many years. Another phrase to drop, "I wonder if the bums at Disney are going to sell them now."

"That guy always gets on": For Barry Bonds, the Giant superstar who gets on base on average more than once out of every two at bats, a phenomenal statistic. "I've never seen him smile so much": more Bonds, who's actually been seen grinning. Normally he looks as if he's had vinegar for breakfast.

"Tools of ignorance": another name for catcher's gear.

If all this is too much to remember, just agree with everything the boss says. And don't forget the beer.

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