- The group of teams that conduct their pre-season spring training exhibition games in Arizona where the cactus grows in abundance. See also Grapefruit League.
- A caddy's sole function is to come in as a substitute in the late innings of a lopsided game to act as a defensive replacement for an aging power hitter or to pinch run.
- A Major League team may call up or promote a player from the minor leagues during the season to take a spot on its roster, often to replace a player who has been sent down to the minor leagues or else placed on the disabled list. Players who have been in the major leagues previously (and were sent down) may be said to be recalled rather than called up. After August 31, several minor leaguers may be called up to take a spot on the expanded roster.
- A strong arm. Also, a gun.
- To throw strongly. Announcer following a play in which the shortstop fields a ground ball and throws hard to first: "Guillen cannons and gets him."
can of corn
- A high, easy-to-catch, fly ball hit to the outfield. The phrase is said to have originated in the nineteenth-century and relates to an old-time grocer's method of getting canned goods down from a high shelf. Using a stick with a hook on the end, a grocer could tip a can so it would fall for an easy catch into his apron. One theory for use of corn as the canned good in the phrase is that a can of corn was considered the easiest "catch" as corn was the best selling vegetable in the store and so was heavily stocked on the lowest shelves. Another theory is that the corn refers to the practice in the very early days of baseball of calling the outfield the "corn field", especially in early amateur baseball where the outfield may have been a farm field. Frequently used by Red Barber, a variation, 'A #8 CAN OF GOLDEN BANTAM' was favored by Bob Prince, Pittsburgh Pirates' announcer. The phrase was also used by Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto and Red Sox and then White Sox broadcaster Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson. Also, a phrase used to refer to something that is not challenging. Informally, can of corn may be used as a phrase to describe mild excitement, personal acknowledgement or recognition of significance.
- A manager who often takes a pitcher out of the game at the first sign of trouble. Sparky Anderson was perhaps the best example of a "Captain Hook" at the major league level. See hook.
- When a pitcher quickly dispatches a batter with three or four pitches that the batter only whiffs at, the pitcher may be said to have "carved up the batter" – like a chef carving up a turkey. Headline: "How Buehrle carved up Tampa Bay with just one 90-m.p.h. pitch."
- To knock in a runner who is already on base. "Lauren Rorebeck then cashed both runners in with a home run over the left field fence to tie the game at 7–7 with two innings to play."
- A desirable or auspicious situation. Popularized by Red Barber, longtime broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers. James Thurber wrote in his short story of the same title: "[S]itting in the catbird seat" means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. The catbird is said to seek out the highest point in a tree to sing his song, so someone in the catbird seat is high up.
catch up to a fastball
- As if a batter were running a footrace with a fastball, he's said to "catch up" to a fastball if his reaction time and bat speed are quick enough to hit a fastball by a power pitcher. "Our scouting reports indicate he can still hit and still catch up to a fastball. As long as he can catch up to a fastball, he's going to get the money."
- It is catcher's interference when the catcher physically hinders the batter's opportunity to swing at a pitch. In professional baseball, play continues and after continuous playing action ceases, the umpire calls time. The penalty is that the batter is awarded first base; any runner attempting to steal is awarded that base and all other runners advance only if forced. The manager of the offensive team has the option of keeping the result of the play. He will not be given the option by the umpires and must explicitly declare it before the play continues after awarding bases. The catcher is charged with an error. This is one of many types of interference call.
- From Open-site.org: A term used when the third strike is called on a batter without the batter attempting to swing at the pitch.
- A baserunner who is tagged out because he wasn't paying attention to what the defensive players were doing is "caught napping". Often this involves a pickoff play in which the infielder sneaks up behind the runner and takes a throw from the pitcher or, less often, the catcher.
- Last place, bottom of the standings. A team that spends too much time in last place, especially over a stretch of years, tends to acquire the unflattering title of cellar dweller. SYNONYM: basement.
- A baseball pitched with the intent to break out of the strike zone that fails to break and ends up hanging in the strike zone; an unintentional slow fastball with side spin resembling a fixed-axis spinning cement mixer, which does not translate.
- Specifically regarding a batter: A seat on the bench, as opposed to reaching base or remaining in the batter's box. As in, "throw him the chair". The expression is an encouragement to the pitcher to strike out the batter, sending him back to the dugout, thus "throwing him the chair" — forcing him to sit down.
challenge the hitter
- When a pitcher is aggressive and throws strikes, perhaps his best fastball, he may be said to "challenge the hitter". Akin to pounding the strike zone or attacking the strike zone. "Jared has outstanding stuff", Mee said. "The one thing I would like to see him do is throw more strikes and challenge the hitters. He has a lot of ability and when he is ahead in the count he's a very difficult guy to hit off of."
change the eye level
- A pitcher "changes the eye level" of a hitter by throwing pitches at different heights in the strike zone. This is intended to keep the hitter off-balance or uncomfortable. "Changing the eye-level of a hitter is important because as you advance, it'll become more difficult for you to get a hitter to move his feet in the batters box – even by pitching inside – so the next option is to move the hitter's eyes."
- A changeup or a change is a pitch meant to look like a fastball - but with less velocity - short for change of pace. A variety of this pitch is the circle change, where a circle is formed using the thumb and index finger on the last third of a ball. This causes the ball to break inside and down to right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher, frequently resulting in ground balls. Also, a straight change - made famous by Pedro Martínez - can be utilized. The grip requires all fingers to be used in holding the ball, resulting in more friction, thus slowing the ball down tremendously.
- When an infielder runs towards a ground ball rather than wait for it to come to him.
- Runs are said to be "charged" to the pitcher who initially allowed the scoring runner to get on base.
charging the mound
- Charging the mound refers to a batter assaulting the pitcher after being hit by a pitch or in some cases after narrowly avoiding being hit. The first incident of a professional charging the mound has not been identified but the practice certainly dates back to the game's early days. Charging the mound is often the precipitating cause of a bench-clearing brawl and will most likely result in the batter's ejection.
- To chase (or chase after) is to swing at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.
- A pitcher who is removed from the game by the manager because he gave up too many runs is said to have been "chased from the game" or "chased from the mound" by the opposing batters. "Pettitte was chased from the game in the seventh inning following an RBI single by Willy Taveras and a two-RBI triple by Kazuo Matsui."
- A player or coach who is ejected from the game by an umpire can be said to be chased. "Martin was tossed by umpire Lee Weyer in the fourth game of the 1976 Series, seven years after Weaver was chased by Shag Crawford in the fourth game in 1969."
- To verbally challenge or taunt to distract the opposing batter. Fans and players alike participate in chatter. "Heybattabattabatta" is an example of common baseball chatter.
- Nickname for Dodger Stadium. The ballpark was built in the late 1950s in a former residential neighborhood named Chavez Ravine.
- A run that comes about from luck or with little effort by the offensive team. Headline: "A Cheap Run for the Rays." Story: "Carl Crawford got lucky with that blooper down the line; wasn't a bad pitch from Jamie Moyer."
check the runner
- When the pitcher or an infielder who fields a ball, looks in the direction of a runner on base and thereby causes him to not take as large of a lead as he would otherwise have taken.
- A batter checks a swing by stopping it before the bat crosses the front of home plate. If he fails to stop it in time, the umpire will call a strike because he swung at the pitch. Often the umpire's view of the swing is obstructed. If the umpire calls the pitch a ball, a defensive player such as the catcher or pitcher can ask the home plate umpire to ask another umpire whether the batter swung at the pitch. In such a case, the home plate umpire always accepts the judgment of the other umpire. "Basically, the Tigers tied the Sox in knots the entire game — or else they wouldn't have had as many checked swings as they did. Or as many strikes that they tried to sell to the umpires as balls."
- See cheese.
- A fastball, particularly one that is difficult to hit. A fastball high in the strike zone is also called high cheese, and one low in the zone can be called cheese at the knees. 'Easy Cheese' refers to the seemingly effortless motion of a pitcher as he throws a fastball at very high velocity.
- A high and tight, up and in pitch meant to knock a batter back from home plate to avoid being hit on the chin. Also known as a brush-back or purpose pitch.
Chinese home run
- An older term for a home run, often a high fly ball, that barely clears the fence at that part of the outfield closest to the plate. It was frequently used in reference to such hits at the Polo Grounds, former home of the New York Giants, which had notoriously short foul lines. Its use has declined since that stadium was demolished, and even further as it has been perceived as ethnically offensive.
- A secondary sense is that of a long fly ball, usually one that travels backward from home plate. This usage appears to be restricted to sandlot ball games in New England, where it may have evolved from a supposed "Chaney's home run", a backward foul by a player of that name who eventually won a game for the hitting team when the ball, the last one available, could not be found. The umpire then ruled that the other team failed to provide an adequate number of balls and had thus forfeited the game.
- A chopper refers to a batted ball that immediately strikes the hardened area of dirt directly in front of home plate, causing it to bounce high into the infield. Batters who are fast runners can convert such choppers into base hits. Also a batted ball that bounces several times before either being fielded by an infielder or reaching the outfield. Former Braves broadcaster Skip Caray often whimsically called bouncers to third base when Atlanta was on defense as "a chopper to Chipper" in reference to long-time Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
- A batter "chokes up" by sliding his hands up from the knob end of the bat to give him more control over his bat. It reduces the power and increases the control. Prior to driving in the Series-winning hit with a bloop single in the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez choked up on the bat. Thus he came through, and did not "choke" in the clutch.
- Throw. A pitcher is sometimes referred to as a chucker or someone who can really chuck the ball. In San Francisco, sometimes the fans are referred to as battery chuckers, referring to several incidents where many fans threw batteries onto the field. These incidents date back at least to the early aughts in San Francisco, although there was at least one earlier incident involving Phillies fans.
- The on-deck circle, officially known as the next batter's box.
- An outstanding catch, usually when a fielder has to leave his feet or go through contortions to make, resembling a circus acrobat in the process.
- When a batter hits a ball through the infield without its being touched by a fielder, he may be said to have a "clean hit". Similarly, if a batter hits a ball over an outfielder's head, he may have a "clean hit". "Tris truly loved to hit and would always get a thrill when getting a 'clean' hit that travelled over an outfielder's head."
- When a team pitches and plays defense without mental or physical errors or allowing the other team to score runs or advance runners easily. "I want to see clean innings", Cooper said. "This is a time when we should be seeing them – crisp, clean innings. Yet we're hitting guys [who] are trying to bunt, walking guys on four pitches ... This is not young kids doing this stuff. This is ridiculous. I don't care who it is. It shouldn't be happening. We've got to clean it up. I'd like to see some clean innings sooner or later. We should be throwing strike one, strike two, make some pitches. We're all over the place. We're not even close to the strike zone."
- The fourth batter in the lineup, usually a power hitter. The strategy is to get some runners on base for the cleanup hitter to drive home. In theory, if the first three batters of the game were to load the bases, the No. 4 hitter would ideally "clean up" the bases with a grand slam.
clear the bases
- A batter who drives home all the runners on base without scoring himself is said to "clear the bases". "Dikito's base-clearing triple sent the pro-Falcon crowd into a frenzy."
climbing the ladder
- A tactic where a pitcher delivers a succession of pitches out of the strike zone, each higher than the last, in an attempt to get the batter to swing at a pitch "in his eyes".
- When a fielder makes an unusually high jump to catch a high line drive, as though he climbed an invisible ladder to make the catch
- A dominant performance by one person or team. "David Price really put on a clinic out there, striking out the side."
- A relief pitcher who is consistently used to "close" or finish a game by getting the final outs. Closers are often among the most overpowering pitchers, and sometimes even the most erratic. Alternatively, they might specialize in a pitch that is difficult to hit, such as the splitter or the cut fastball.
close the book
- One can "close the book" on a pitcher who has been replaced when his statistics for the game become final. If a relief pitcher enters the game with one or more inherited runners, and those runners eventually score, they still affect the statistics of the pitcher who allowed them on base (e.g., earned run average). Once all runners charged to a particular pitcher score or get put out, or the third out is made in the inning, then his statistics can no longer change (except his status as pitcher of record) and his "book" is "closed".
- See "throw a clothesline".
- A team's locker room, which may also include eating, entertainment, and workout facilities, especially at the highest professional level. The term "clubhouse" is also frequently used in the sports of golf and thoroughbred horse racing.
- Good performance under pressure when good performance really matters. May refer to such a situation (being in the clutch) or to a player (a good clutch hitter, or one who "can hit in the clutch"); or to specific hits ("that was a clutch hit"). Most baseball fans believe that clutch hitting exists, but there is significant disagreement among statheads whether clutch hitting is a specific skill or instead just something good hitters in general do. An old synonym for clutch is pinch, as in Christy Mathewson's book, Pitching in a Pinch.
- A belt-high, very hittable fastball, usually down the middle of the plate. As used by Bob McClure, former Red Sox Pitching Coach: "When you throw a cock-shot fastball just above the belt, right down the middle, you're hoping they don't swing. A lot of times, that gets hit out of the ballpark."
- Symbol of going hitless in a game, suggested by its resemblance to a zero, along with the implication of "choking"; to wear the collar: "If Wright doesn't get a hit here, he'll be wearing an 0 for 5 collar on the day." Also, to take the collar: "Cameron Maybin took the collar in his major league debut, striking out twice."
- A line drive or ground ball batted directly back to the pitcher.
- The advanced skill of a pitcher's ability to throw a pitch where he intends to. Contrast with control, which is just the ability to throw strikes; command is the ability to hit particular spots in or out of the strike zone. Also see location.
- A complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game himself, without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A complete game can be either a win or a loss. A complete game can be awarded to a pitcher even if he pitches less than (or more than) nine-innings, as long as he pitches the entire game.
complete game shut out
- A complete game shut out (CGSO) occurs when a pitcher throws a complete game and does not allow the other team to score.
- A hitter who does not strike out often. Thus, he's usually able to make contact with the ball and put it in play. This doesn't mean he's necessarily a pitty-patty slap hitter. He may hit for power, but typically with more doubles/triples instead of home runs. Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, and Wade Boggs are all excellent examples of contact hitters.
- See pitch to contact.
- When a runner at third base is instructed by a coach to attempt to score as soon as he hears the bat make contact with a pitch, not waiting to learn what kind of contact has been made (fair ball or foul ball, fly ball or ground ball). In such a case, the runner is told to "run on contact". This play would typically occur when the game is close or the bases are loaded. More generally, "Baserunners 'run on contact' when there are two outs, since there is nothing to lose if the ball is caught or the batter is thrown out."
- A pitcher who gives up very few bases on balls or has excellent command of his pitches. Also known as a control pitcher.
- A pitch that is easy to hit. Conversely, in the case where the first pitch is a strike and the second pitch is a ball, the second may be the result of a pitcher's missing his spot; the pitcher responds by throwing a cookie to regain control.
- A metonym for the Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, New York. A player or manager "on his way to Cooperstown" is one thought destined for induction into the Hall of Fame.
- A bat in which cork (or possibly rubber or some other elastic material) has been inserted into the core of the wooden barrel. Although modifying a bat in this way may help to increase bat speed or control by making the bat lighter, contrary to popular belief it does not impart more energy to the batted ball. A batter could achieve a similar effect by choking up on the bat or using a shorter bat. A player who is caught altering his bat illegally is subject to suspension or other penalties. The last such case in Major League Baseball involved the slugger Sammy Sosa.
- When runners are "at the corners", they are at first base and third base on the baseball diamond, with no runner on second base.
- The "corners of the plate" are the inside and outside edges of home plate. Some pitchers live on the corners or just nibble on them. Others are skilled at "painting the corners".
- A corner infielder, or an infielder who plays third or first base.
- The number of balls and strikes a batsman has in his current at bat. Usually announced as a pair of numbers, for instance "3–0" (pronounced "three and oh"), with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. A 3–2 count – one with the maximum number of balls and strikes in a given at bat – is referred to as a full count. A count of 1–1 or 2–2 is called even, although the pitcher is considered to have the advantage on a 2–2 pitch because he can still throw another ball without consequence, whereas another strike means the batter is out. A batter is said to be ahead in the count (and a pitcher behind in the count) if the count is 1–0, 2–0, 2–1, 3–0, or 3–1. A batter is said to be behind in the count (and a pitcher ahead in the count) if the count is 0–1, 0–2, or 1–2.
- A pitcher who is easy for a particular batter to hit.
covering a base
- Part of the infielders' job is to cover bases. That is, stand next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball from another fielder, then make a play on a baserunner who is approaching that base. On a force play or an appeal play, the fielder covering a base stands with one foot on that base when he catches the ball.
- When a fielder goes to make a play at a base that is not his position (usually because the fielder for that base is unavailable to catch the ball at that base because he is busy fielding the batted ball). A common example is when the first baseman fields a batted ground ball, but is too far from the base to put the runner out. The pitcher runs over to "cover" first base to take the throw from the first baseman (play would be scored as "3-1", meaning first baseman to pitcher).
crack of the bat
- The sound of the bat hitting the ball. The term is used in baseball to mean "immediately, without hesitation". For example, a baserunner may start running "on the crack of the bat", as opposed to waiting to see where the ball goes.
- Outfielders often use the sound of bat-meeting-ball as a clue to how far a ball has been hit. As physicist Robert Adair has written, "When a baseball is hit straight at an outfielder he cannot quickly judge the angle of ascent and the distance the ball will travel. If he waits until the trajectory is well defined, he has waited too long and will not be able to reach otherwise catchable balls. If he starts quickly, but misjudges the ball such that his first step is wrong (in for a long fly or back for a short fly), the turn-around time sharply reduces his range and he will again miss catchable balls. To help his judgment, the experienced outfielder listens to the sound of the wooden bat hitting the ball. If he hears a 'crack' he runs out, if he hears a 'clunk' he runs in."
- Similarly, with metal bats, the outfielders have to learn to distinguish a "ping" from a "plunk".
- A small baseball field considered to be friendly to power hitters and unfriendly to pitchers. A bandbox. (see: Baker Bowl)
- A player or team with power and exceptional skill.
- To hit a ball for extra bases, typically a home run. "Jeter cranked a homer to left to make it 6–5." Also, a turn of the century (19th century) euphemism for baseball spectators, referring to the cranking of the turnstiles as they pass into the ballpark.
- A method of defending against a bunt in which the first and third basemen charge towards the batter to field the ball, the second baseman covers first base, and the shortstop covers second or third, depending on where the lead runner is going. May also refer more generally to the action of any infielder charging towards the batter on a bunt.
- A number other than a zero or a one, referring to the appearance of the actual number. A team which is able to score two or more runs in an inning is said to "hang a crooked number" on the scoreboard or on the pitcher.
- A home run that is clearly going out as soon as it is hit. It is referred to in this manner because it is disturbing to the pitcher like some type of creature.
- When a catcher calls for the pitcher to throw one type of pitch (e.g., a fastball) but the pitcher throws another (e.g., a curveball), the catcher has been crossed up. This may lead to a passed ball, allowing a runner on base to advance. "Barrett's passed ball allowed the last of three runs to score in the fifth as the Reds increased their lead to 7–2. Williams' pitch crossed him up. 'I was looking for a sinker and it cut away from me', Barrett said. 'I had a play at the plate, but my shin guard stuck in the grass. It was a frustrating day.'"
- When a batter has been set up to expect a certain type of pitch but instead receives a different one, he may be crossed up, perhaps leading to a weakly hit ball or a swing and a miss.
crowd the hitter
- When a pitcher throws the ball toward the inside part of the plate, he may be trying to "crowd the hitter" by making it difficult for him to extend his arms and get a full swing at the pitch.
crowd the plate
- When a batter sets his stance extremely close to the plate, sometimes covering up part of the strike zone. This angers pitchers and, if done repeatedly, can lead to a brush-back pitch or even a beanball being thrown at the batter to clear the plate. "I am fully aware that when you crowd the plate, you're going to get a high heater."
crush the ball
- A batter who hits a ball extremely hard and far might be said to crush the ball, as if he had destroyed the baseball or at least changed its shape. Related expressions are crunched the ball or mashed the ball. Indeed, a slugger is sometimes described as a masher. Illustration: "Though the 25-year-old has impressed with two homers in five games, he's more of a pure hitter than a masher."
- Other types of baseball destruction include knocking the stuffing out of the ball and knocking the horsehide [cover] off the ball.
cue the ball
- When a ball is hit off the end of the bat, the batter may be said to have "cued the ball" (as if he hit it with a pool cue). "Kendrick took third on a broken-bat ground-out and scored on a cued grounder to first base by Ryan Shealy ..."
cup of coffee
- A short time spent by a minor league player at the major league level. The idea is that the player was there only long enough to have a cup of coffee. It can also be used to describe a very brief stay (less than a season) with a major league club.
- A pitch that curves or breaks from a straight or expected flight path toward home plate. Also called simply "a curve".
- A swing of the bat.
- To be removed from the roster or from the team.
- A cut fastball or cutter is a fastball that has lateral movement. A "cut fastball" is similar to a slider that is more notable for its speed than its lateral movement.
cut down on his swing
- When a batter reduces the amplitude of his swing, either by choking up on the bat or just by starting his swing less far behind his head, he "cuts down on his swing", thereby helping him to get his bat around faster. Also "shorten his swing". "Guerrero swung so hard during an 0-for-5 night Tuesday he looked as if he might come right out of his spikes. So, Hatcher suggested Wednesday that Guerrero widen his stance slightly, a move that forces hitters to cut down on their swing a bit."
cut the ball off
- When a ball is hit in the gap between outfielders, a fielder often has to make a choice whether to run toward the fence to catch or retrieve the ball or to run toward the ball and try to field it before it gets by him and reaches the fence. In the latter case, he's said to "cut the ball off" because he's trying to shorten the path of the ball. "When Granderson drifted towards left-center field on Carlos Peña's fifth-inning line drive, he wasn't heading that direction to make a catch. He was preparing to field it on the bounce. 'I was actually getting into position to cut the ball off', Granderson said after the Tigers' 11-7 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon. 'I didn't think I was going to have a chance to catch it.' "
- A defensive tactic where a fielder moves into a position between the outfielder who has fielded the batted ball and the base where a play can be made. This fielder is said to "cut off" the throw or to be the "cut-off man". This tactic increases accuracy over long distances and shortens the time required to get a ball to a specific place. It also gives the cut-off man the choice of putting out a trailing runner trying to advance on the throw if he thinks it impossible to make the play at home. Missing the cut-off (man) is considered a mistake by an outfielder (though not scored as an error) because it may allow a runner to advance or to score.
- A fielder who "cuts off" a long throw to an important target. Often the shortstop, second baseman, or first baseman will be the "cut-off man" for a long throw from the outfield to third base or home plate. "Hit the cut-off man" is a common admonition from a coach.
- See hit for the cycle.
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- Robert K. Adair, The Physics of Baseball (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), pp.136-139.
- At the time of the Sosa incident, a list of well-known cases of doctoring the bat was published by ESPN.com .
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