Monday, July 28, 2008

Softball Chatter

Piggy-backing on my wildly successful "Court Chatter" post, I'm here once again to write about my inexplicable need to talk while playing sports.

I'm not exactly sure why I choose to chatter. Do my teammates really benefit from the encouragement? Are our opponents rattled by my taunts? Does the sound of my voice offer comfort during troubled times? I doubt it. But I'll keep doing it. I'll keep chirping my little one-liners, if for no other reason than I have a mental defect that urges me to let my voice ring out on the court, field, pool, rink or pitch at all times.

Today's subject is Softball.

Chatter is not a new concept to fans of this particular sport. Anyone who has ever seen a college women's softball game, for instance, knows that those girls' pie holes are moving up and down with the speed and ferocity of industrial strength wood chippers.

Chatter is as much a part of women's softball as batting helmets with cages and legs the size of cannon barrels.

What I've done is I've taken that concept and brought it over to the men's recreational leagues. Here, for your consideration, are some of my favorite phrases to yell during softball games.

1. "!"
As in, "Here we go, now!" or "two down, now!", the word "now" can be added to pretty much any phrase of encouragement in softball. As versatile as this word is, though, it's important to note that the voice inflection should always end on an up-swing; it's almost as if you're asking a question. Practice out loud: "All right guys, let's have a big inning now?"

2. "Find some grass"
I just learned this phrase this year from Jay Hughes in Shipping/Receiving. This phrase is used when your team is hitting, and you would like the batter to get on base. In softball, if a batter hits and the ball does indeed hit the grass, it's likely he or she will get on base (unless the hitter happens to be morbidly obese or has a plastic hip--both of which I have seen this year).

3. "Wait for your pitch"/"Make it be there"
Use this phrase when the game may or may not be on the line and that "iffy" batter gets up to the plate. This phrase is designed to plant the seed in the batter's mind to refrain from swinging. You want to let him or her know that it's okay to walk if it means getting on base.

4. "1-2-3"
As a first baseman, I feel it's my duty to offer encouragement to my teammates while on defense. I use the phrase "1-2-3" to encourage them to get three straight outs so we can get back up to bat as soon as possible. It may not be much, but I'd like to think by saying this I am inspiring my fellow infielders to say to themselves "Yeah. 1-2-3. I like the sound of that," and then go do it.

5. "Nice cut"
This is a holdover from little league days. In those days we little tykes were just learning how to swing, so a ripping cut at an oncoming pitch, even if you missed the ball completely, was an accomplishment. The coaches would often yell "nice cut!" to let you know they were still behind you 100%. In softball, however, the same phrase becomes a pretty pathetic attempt to make someone feel better after they whiff a slow-moving large object. It's usually used as a crude filler for the awkward silence that follows the batter's complete miss. In fact, sometimes this attempt to encourage can have the opposite effect--destroying the batter's sense of self-worth.

6. "Any bag"
Again, first basemen are in charge of encouraging the infielders when things get grim. For instance, when the other team has runners on first and second, the other infielders need to be reminded where to go to get the out. The phrase "any bag" reminds them that they can either touch first, second or third base to get an out. It's important to use the word bag in this particular situation, though, because the phrase "any base" means something entirely different.

7. "Any base"
The main difference between this phrase and "any bag" is this phrase's inclusion of home plate as a potential location for a forced out. See, in the olden days baseball players used old gunny sacks filled with human hair for first, second and third bases, and a plate glass window for home base. Hence the terms "bag" and "plate." Don't make the mistake of saying "any bag" when you mean "any base," or you could be responsible for giving the other team a costly run.

8. "Play the line"/"Everyone shift left"
This phrase is interesting because I only hear it when I'm batting. Apparently other teams have discovered that I am incapable of putting the ball anywhere but left field. I'm serious--even if every single player but the first baseman on the opposing team played left of second base I'd still get out eight out of 10 times.

9. "Everybody hits"/"Everybody's a hitter"
This phrase is usually called out when the speaker's team gets up to bat and he or she was the last one to get out during the previous at bats. He or she really wants to hit again, thus he or she encourages everyone to "be a hitter." The unfortunate thing, however, is that even if he or she gets up again that inning they'll usually just get out again.

That's all I can think of now. What did I miss? Anyone else have any good softball chatter?


Justin said...

That's a pretty good list to start with if you are new to the washed out baseball players softball league. You did miss however one of the most common lines. "Turn two" or "let's roll one up" might be used with 0 or 1 outs and a man on first. It means to turn a double play. Russ likes to say "Ham and eggs, now!"

I also hear a lot "Don't try to do too much" when I come up to bat. I can hit the occasional dinger but hardly ever when I am trying for the fence. My teammates know that if I am in a home run situation and try to hit one deep I will probably hit a really high pop fly to center field. It has the humbling effect on me.

Rock said...

How about, "when does football season start?"

I don't mean to demean your article, Adam. It was actually an enjoyable read--and that comes from a guy who hates baseball and therefore despises softball.

Russ Nelson said...

I am all about the chatter on the baseball field. I don't get into the lame girls softball menstruation cries, but I do love throwing in a little jab here and there to spice things up. I especially go nuts when someone strikes out in slow pitch softball.
How about everyone comes out on Friday Aug 1st at 6:00 pm to our intermural tournament softball game and enjoys the sights and sounds of the game. You won't be disappointed!

Travis said...

Like the comment below, I like "hit smart now" for the humbling effect. Too often we had hitters who thought themselves capable of homeruns, when 75-85% of the time and popup or flyout was the result. "Hit smart" is an ego-destroying reminder to the hitter to not screw up again, just go for the single over short.

Andrew said...

One of the greatest sports chatter phrases comes from Dick Nelson - "You're pointing." I've heard it used in all kinds of sporting events from baseball to basketball, and maybe even at the Nelson dinner table. No one knows what it means, but I suspect it means, "stop sucking out there." Maybe Russ knows...

Anonymous said...

I do believe in chattering on the field, however, I do not think the umpire should allow heckling. It just so happens we experienced this at our game last night. To top it all off, we're a church league. While chattering is helpful for the team doing it, heckling can cause more than just some mild upset. I thought we were going to end up in a fist fight and Satan was going to show up to witness it. Actually, I think he was already there (the opposing team). Oh, and FYI Russ Nelson, I highly doubt our chattering can be compared to menstruation cries. While chattering we never say the word, "man". ;)