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View From a Cop: If You Don't Know Baseball 'You're Out!'

Baseball is a favorite pastime of Sandy Springs Police Capt. Steve Rose.

 

In my world, summer means a lot of things including grilling out, taking the boat out at the lake, the bills for the boat, the drunks at the lake, the choppy waves at the lake, and guys who can’t back a boat trailer down the ramp at the lake.  

Then there’s the guys who ride wave runners who think I’m going to yield to them at the lake. And the drunks at Sunset Cove who travel in packs, look like the last-place finishers for a Chippendale’s dance-off contest at the J.W. Whitlock Mobile Home Park on Highway 431 just south of Eufaula, Alabama. [They apparently didn’t take the advice of their elders whose dying words were, “Son, it’d be best if you was to wear a shirt.”]

In all fairness, however, Sunset Cove is a fine place for some good entertainment and who cares if the fat drunks go walking around in packs? With proper mindset, it’s all part of the entertainment.

Still, if you head north enough, you can find a small cove and smooth water and it’s perfect for dropping the anchor, putting the rafts out, and just hanging out with a good cigar and some music.  Sunset on the lake is tranquil and makes one forget the problems of the day such as the current supposedly “fair market value” of our homes or other tragedies like “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Summer also means our national pastime is well underway. I’m not talking about mud-surfing behind a pickup truck. I’m talking about baseball. My family is and has always been a big baseball family. I have a photo of my grandfather and his ball team posing in front of their Model-T cars after a game. My father coached my brother and I coached all of my four children. I hope they will coach theirs.

My wife, admittedly, did not have such an interest in baseball until we met well into our adult lives. She is smart in many ways; among them is that fact that she has become a well-versed baseball authority on the Braves. She loves the Braves and can sit and carry on a conversation about them in any audience.

I call it foreplay.

Now, the following should be considered the Cliff Notes version of being able to impress your mate, business group, clients or whoever that person is, who is a solid baseball fan. It doesn’t matter who the team is, there are certain absolutes that will surely impress your intended audience, business or casual. 

Baseball is deeply set in tradition so don’t screw around with tradition. Anyone can Google baseball history, so don’t be concerned with that. Locally, remember that the Braves were in last place in 1990 and in first place in 1991. That was called “Worst to First.” Unless you’re playing trivia, don’t dwell on it.

The real talent for you to learn is the terminology of the game. Baseball is packed full of slang terms, some with double meanings. Picture yourself at a game or watching a game with a group of those who are reasonably knowledgeable in that setting.

Things that you need to know can be broken down as follows:

The game centers on the pitcher. A pitcher has good “stuff.” This means his pitches are working today. Tomorrow maybe not so good but It is always “stuff.”

“Stuff” can be further defined as “Cheese.” The pitcher on that day has good “cheese,” which normally refers to his fastball. Cheese however, has different levels. Among them are “good cheese” and even more so, “serious cheese.”

Depending on where you are in the country, “cheese” can also refer to other pitches such as the breaking ball. Cheese, by default however, always refers to the fastball.

The fastball is also broken down into the types of fastballs. Two seam and four seam fastballs are popular. Without a detailed explanation, remember that the two seam cuts back over the plate. Four seam fastballs appear to rise but they don’t.   Other pitches are curve balls, cutters, sliders, changeup, circle change, three-finger change, palm ball, and the elusive knuckleball.  

Another pitch, meant to deliver messages to the hitters to not get too comfortable is the brush back pitch—an uncomfortably inside pitch to the hitter.

The extreme version of that is called “chin music.” That one is a knock-down pitch and at times leads to other things like a mid-field brawl by both teams. Don’t worry however because baseball players can’t fight very well. They don’t want to hurt the million-dollar arm.

In baseball, they score runs, not points.  There are nine players on the field and in the lineup. They wear uniforms, not “outfits.”  There are two kinds of “cups” in a baseball game. One is on the bench next to the water cooler, used for drinking. The other is a protective “cup” which protects the man’s groin area, preventing brain damage in case he is hit there.

A “can of corn” is an easy catch, usually a pop fly. It’s a term taken from years ago when a stick was used to pull canned goods off top store shelves sitting well above the store clerk’s reach. The cans would fall from the shelf and the clerk would catch it.

A “frozen rope” is a line drive. If you took a rope, froze it and held it out, it would have a slight arc similar to the trajectory of a line drive.

It goes on and on. Baseball is so heavy in slang that it would take a good long while to completely cover it. It is also a work in progress so as you watch the game on TV, listen to the announcers who are very versed in the proper slang of the game. Enjoy a game this summer. 

For those of you wanting more on mud-surfing behind a pickup truck, you might want to check out the Redneck Games held in Dublin, Ga. The bad news is that it was this past weekend.

Remember, all summer long, you’re welcomed at the Sunset Cove on Lake Lanier where at any given time you’ll be witness to fun, food, adult beverages, good scenery, and occasionally, some of those guys from the trailer park.

mike johnston June 01, 2012 at 07:41 PM
You started off this column in rare form, Detective! Well done and much appreciated.
mike johnston June 01, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Check that... I somehow missed the "Captain" on your byline.

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