Ducks on a Pond

May 1, 2009

Mike Adamick, blogging for the Los Angeles Times, says his three-year-old daughter has become fascinated with the jargon of baseball. For instance, she loves the term “dying quail,” which refers to a fly ball that suddenly loses steam and drops to the ground. “Where are the quails?” the little one asks whenever a ball is hit into the air. She also likes “worm burner,” a hot ground ball that skids across the grass. “Poor worms!” she says after every hard grounder.

I recently gave a short talk about this subject as part of a job application process. I asked the group I was speaking to if any of them were baseball fans, and several hands went up, but none of them could decipher the terms “can of corn” (an easily caught fly ball), “cup of coffee” (a player’s short stay in the major leagues before returning to the minors), or “cutting the pie” (deliberately rounding first or third base without touching the bag). They were befuddled by the hypothetical statement: “Jeter tried to shoot the cripple with ducks on the pond, but he started a Lawrence Welk,” which means that, with the bases loaded, Jeter tried to get a hit off an ineffective pitcher but grounded into a double play from the pitcher to the catcher to the first baseman – a play that is scored one-two-three (a-one and a-two and a-three).

My audience was able, however, to distinguish between the hot dog who shows off making one-handed grabs and the hot dog that costs six bucks at the concession stand.