On Language (Jerry Manuel edition)

Baseball has a language of its own, constantly evolving. The name of my occasional baseball blog is meant to pay homage to baseball and its unique lexicon, the oldest of which Steve Rushin once bemoaned was as dead as Latin. One of the reasons my father tapes Yankee manager post-game press conferences is just so he can get his anger up listening to Joe Girardi alibi for his pitchers by talking about, as The Old Man puts it, their “arm slots” being off. Not arm angle, but arm slot. My father’s point is that why can’t Girardi just say they didn’t pitch so good (like any good ol’ manager), instead of trying to sound smarter (Girardi has an engineering degree from Northwestern, don’t you know) and otherwise cover up for his players’ poor performances? But as much as it grates him to hear Girardi say it, arm slot is just another part of baseball’s ever-developing way of words.

(A personal favorite, which I tried to explain to my somewhat confused 3½-year-old, is Twi-night, for the type of doubleheader you rarely, if ever, see anymore).

So, when I heard Jerry Manuel talk about Mike Pelfrey and his “pitchability”after his win Tuesday night, I loved it. I’m sure the word has been around the coaching circles for a while, but I still loved the word, and love it even more coming from Manuel. Makes me wish William Safire was still around so he could investigate the etymology of “pitchability.”

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Originally published June 12, 2010, 1:49 a.m. at my sometime baseball blog, Clutch Bingles.

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