Mr. Stillman's piece offered great insight and obvious love for the language of baseball, but I think he missed a major point. Like other professions, the unique jargon of baseball is deployed by the veterans to mess with the rookies' heads and keep the journalists out of the club.
It's a game that was dominated for much of its history by illiterate rural men with hours to kill on the bench. Inventing new ways to say the same few things was an entertaining way to heckle the opposing hitters and pitchers.
But updating and controlling the lexicon is also a way to keep the youngsters off guard in a highly mental game and protect the veteran from the inevitable demise of age. As any junior varsity player knows, a veteran can intimidate a rookie into hacking away until he whiffs and thus enabling the old-timer to hang onto his spot in the rotation before being forced to hang up his cleats.
Jun 29 2009 - 2:30pm