Sports View: Understanding sports terminology … maybe

Sports View: Understanding sports terminology … maybe

By Chuck Martin

Overlapping sports seasons can confuse and distract even the most ardent sports fans. Major League baseball is in full swing. The NBA playoffs are winding

down. Pre-season NFL games wil be here before you know it.

Equally difficult is making sense of the terminology applicable to football, basketball and baseball. As a public service, The Rock River Times, offers the following clarification, free of charge.

Ready? In football, the field is the gridiron, the ball is a pigskin and the line of scrimmage is called the trenches. The end zone is referred to as pay dirt. The goal posts are uprights.

A running back can receive a hard hit, referred to as a pancake, clothesline or bell ringer. Coaches can use special “trick” plays labeled misdirection, flea flickers and “Hail Mary” passes. If you are somewhat confused, fear not, you are not alone. If you follow professional football, the only thing you really need to know is that the NFL is contemplating a name change to the National Felon’s League.

For basketball fans, the ball is the rock. A shot can be an air ball, brick or slam. It can draw iron ( hit the rim ), tickle the twine ( swish ), or hit nothing but net. A poor shooter is called a bricklayer or Shaquille O’Neal. A player with hops, air or hang time can really jump. A stuff is a dunk; a rebound a board. A banger is one who plays in a physical manner. The free throw area is paint. A free throw is a charity toss.

Basketball coaches can employ defenses, such as zone, man-to-man ( except in the Women’s’ National Basketball Association, where the politically correct term appears to be person- to- person), full court and half court presses, a box and one or a triangle and two. Some coaches use offenses that feature the pick and roll, give and go and the return pass, which is still the best pass in the game. Tragically, the game of basketball has changed from a finesse game to a power game where the original rules are no longer enforced. Just watch an NBA game. All of these basketball terms can be confusing, too. Just remember that the NBA stands for Not Basketball Anymore, and you will be fine. Can you say traveling?

Now for baseball, America’s National Pastime. Hold on tightly, here we go! A left-handed pitcher is a southpaw. He can throw heat ( fast balls), Uncle Charlies (curve balls), dipsy doo (drop ball), a slurve (curve/slider hybrid), or a foo-foo (knuckleball). If the pitcher thinks the hitter is crowding the plate, he may throw a brushback, chin music or a widow-maker pitch (high and inside location). If a high and inside pitch hits the batter in the head, he has had his “melon smoked.”

Baseball equipment references are equally colorful. The ball is horsehide or the pill. Bats are lumber, wood or sticks. Gloves are mitts or leather. Coaches implore their batters to pull the trigger ( swing the bat), their runners to use their wheels ( speed), and their pitchers to give the hitter a drink (strike him out). A batted ball can be a frozen rope ( line drive), a dying quail ( a bloop hit) or a can of corn ( an easy fly ball). A solid hit is called good wood. A smash through an infielder is T.H.T.H. or Too Hot to Handle. The hot corner is third base. A second sacker is a second baseman. The catcher is the backstop.

When ducks are on the pond, the bases are loaded. When two men are in the mud, there are two outs in the inning. If you have heard enough, just remember that MLB (Major League Baseball) also means Mostly Lazy Ballplayers. Can you say hustle? You’re welcome!

Chuck Martin is a Byron resident who has coached baseball and who has interest in sports.

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