Or, Strange Things People Say at
Kids' Baseball Games
My boys have been playing baseball, America's pastime, for a few years now, and it is an educational experience. I learn another rule or two each spring. I've also learned some lingo, standard phrases for encouraging young players. Like most jargon, if you take it out of context, it sounds pretty weird. Some phrases add a rather violent undertone to a basically civilized contest. For example:
Good eye! (When a batter does not swing at an unsuitable pitch) This refers, I suppose, to the one that's kept on the ball.
Good cut! (Used to encourage the batter when he has swung and missed) Is he chopping wood? Like the term "strike," I think this is an odd way to refer to a lack of contact.
Way to get a piece of it! (For a foul ball) How many pieces does it take to accumulate a whole ball? Or is that a piece of the windshield that just shattered?
Eat it. (Used by fielding players when a runner's advancement is not worth stopping) It is a bitter pill, when my son is the catcher and has a true desire to put everyone out. But when the fielders aren't prepared, he just has to "eat it." I hope it doesn't hurt his teeth.
Watch the ball hit the bat! Of its own accord? People really say this. But it doesn't work that way.
Protect the plate. This phrase must come from baseball's cousin, cricket. The cricket batter's mission is to prevent the ball from knocking down the wicket, so an attitude of protection is appropriate. Does home plate need the same sort of care? It does not get it. Many young batters begin their turn by beating the plate with their bats. A poorly pitched ball might hit the plate, too, but a batter with a "good eye" will not stoop to stop it. If given a good pitch, the batter should keep the ball from passing over the plate by knocking it away. If he does, his next objective is to run around the bases, return to home plate and step on it. I hope I never need that sort of protection.
Being too literal-minded, I cannot bring myself to say most of these things. But I heard a new one this year that might work. Toward the end of the season, one of our coaches was able to distill his advice into one succint instruction:
Be smart. What can we say more?