TBG's Little Baseball Glossary
TBG Staff - Updated April 20, 2006

Welcome to the Baseball Glossary Project.

There's a classic scene in Bull Durham - actually, anything after the opening credits is pretty good - in which veteran Crash Davis gives his rookie charge a lesson on cliches. Baseball fans are familiar with cliches, but the players, with their "110%'s" and "complete team efforts," aren't the only offenders. There are also the cliches used by the media. Terms and phrases repeated ad nauseum by baseball writers and broadcasters as they cover their respective teams.

It's not entirely their fault.

Over the course of a regular season, baseball's 30 teams combine to play 2430 games. All of these games are broadcast, for radio if not television and usually for both. At roughly three hours per broadcast, that adds up to 7,290 hours. That's more than 43 weeks, and that's an awful lot of air time to fill.

So what exactly do we make of this collection of "truths" and wisdom used to guide fans through the grind of a baseball season?

Some are euphamisms, some are myths, and some are downright lies. Inspired by - ok, fine stolen outright - from Roger Ebert's Little Movie Glossary, the Toronto Baseball Guys proudly present The Little Baseball Glossary. Here, we'll attempt to shed some insight into just what these guys are talking about.

Reader submissions are both welcomed and encouraged. If you've got an addition for the glossary, send it here.

Bengie Molina Law of Broadcasting - When a player is slow afoot, a la Molina or John Olerud, the announcers will feel obligated to mention it EVERY time he bats.

Brian Williams Law of Broadcasting - The permanent replacement of a Canadian player's first name with his home town; "Maple Ridge, BC's Larry Walker," "Port Hope's Paul Quantrill," etc. Foreign born players are not immune to Canadian references, no matter how tenuous the connection. These may include: Played with the Calgary Cannons; Grandmother was Canadian; Once had lunch in Sarnia.

"Character Guy" - A player who can't hit.

"Crafty Veteran" - Pitcher without a fastball.

"Didn't have his best stuff today" - Used when a Cy Young winner/candidate or staff ace gets absolutely shelled.

"Does the little things well" - A player who generally does the big, important things - like hit - poorly.

"Gutsy" - A pitcher who no longer has the stuff of his youth and practically never works an inning without being in a jam. See Morris, Jack, circa 1994, Hentgen, Pat circa 2004, and Harris, Ed from "Major League."

"Gutsy Effort" - A pitching line of about 5IP 8H 4ER 2BB 1K, but your team has scored 7 runs and thus have given your team "a chance to win." See "Rough Outing"

"Heart and soul of the club" - A team's most media-friendly player of some tenure, generally photogenic, who is endowed with the mystical powers of leadership and clutch-hitting. As goes this player, so goes the team - at least according to the announcers. Never the team's best player. See Jeter, Derek and Damon, Johnny.

"Knows How to Win" - The mystical power possessed by such starters as Jack Morris and Bill Gullickson, who put up rather unremarkable numbers in a season in which they won a ton of games. Sadly, these greedy players never passed on the secret to guys like Dave Stieb or Ben Sheets.

"Lunch pail guy" - white utility player who slides a lot.

"Nice piece of hitting" - used only when a player hits the ball the other way. Often used on the groundout to second base that advances a runner to third base. Oddly enough, the expression is never used on a 400-foot homer, even though that's a nicer piece of hitting.

"One of the all-time good guys" - a player of such marginal talent that he can't afford to be a jerk.

"Pitching and Defense" - The cornerstone of every good team EVER. Pitching and defense in fact comprise 100% of what it takes to win in baseball. '27 Yankees? Pitching and Defense. '84 Tigers? Pitching and Defense. Big Red Machine? You get the idea.

"Player's Manager" - A manager whose team is so good, he really doesn't have to do anything except show up at the game.

"Plays the game the right way" - A player like Reed Johnson, fundamentally sound, can drop down a bunt and hits his cutoff man, as opposed to Manny Ramirez, who wears pajama pants and plays the outfield like a wildebeest with leprosy. This despite the fact that a lineup of Mannys would trounce a team of Reed Johnsons.

"Professional Hitter" - Veteran player with a decent batting average, say .280, and little else in the way of offensive skills. See Erstad, Darrin.

"Protection" - The notion that batting slugger A behind slugger B will somehow improve slugger B's performance as he will see many more fastballs and pitches to hit. Based on the logic that pitchers will suddenly decide that the best way to retire slugger B is to throw him a lot of fastballs and pitches to hit.

"Rookie Mistake" - Any mental error that takes place on a baseball field, like overthrowing a cutoff man, or taking off from first on a flyball with only one out. Oddly, the majority of rookie mistakes are made by veterans. There is, for the record, no such thing as a Veteran Mistake.

"Rough Outing" - A pitching line of about 5IP 8H 4ER 2BB 1K, but you're getting shut out by the other team's ace.

"Unselfish Player" - Your manager told you to bunt. You did.

On Youth

"Young Team" - A bad team

"Still a Young Team" - They've been bad for a while.

"A Very Young Team" - A very bad team. If the phrase "Growing pains" is used often in conjunction with "very young team," congratulations, you're on the way to a 100-loss season.

Got your own definition for the Glossary? Send it along.