Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for June 19th, 2010

Incorporating Soccer Terms into Baseball’s Lexicon

Posted by verywellthen on June 19, 2010

[NOTE:  I swear I already had this written, with just some clean up to do earlier in the week.  The subject matter meant it needed to be posted sometime during the World Cup, but the Cup was continuing for another 3 weeks – no hurry.  But then that Posnanski guy, in the middle of a post about the US-Slovenia tie game, drops this line:

Michael Bradley …would …deflect the ball into net for what soccer fans like to call “the equalizer.” I tend to think we should try to fit “the equalizer” into our baseball lexicon as well — it’s just better than “tying run.”

…which is just about the opening segment of this post.  Oh well, I’m going to go with what I had written.  Poz beat me to print and he’s got the influence that just might make ‘equalizer’ a baseball term.  So listen to that Posnanski guy — henceforth, it’s not a tying run, its an equalizer.]

It all began the first time I learned of the phrase “equalizer.”  Though, I’m sure it was spelled “equaliser.”

That’s what started this thought that baseball could stand to import some of the lexicon of soccer.

Baseball calls the run that ties a game the “tying run.”  Soccer (in English speaking soccer circles) calls the goal that ties a game the “equaliser.”  I’m no monarchist, but the Brit soccer term is so much better than the American term.  It has as much chance as the U.S. converting to metric, but I’d like baseball to pick up a few terms from soccer.

About the only thing I know about soccer is from my frayed memory reading Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch”a decade back.  But since I learned the word equalizer, I’d been on the look out for other words that baseball could adopt.   My list was pretty short – 2 of the terms below, “clean sheet” and “in aggregate” had been stashed in a notebook somewhere over recent years.  But with the World Cup coming around, I dug through a hand full of web-sites that tutor newbies in the lingo of soccer to see if there are other terms suitable for use on the baseball field.

And no, I won’t call the baseball field a “pitch.”   Baseball already has a meaning for that.

My proposal for terms from the language of soccer to be added to the lexicon of baseball:

Equalizer is a tying run (only appropriate to use the Americanized spelling for baseball). As in “Carl Crawford represents the equalizer out there at second base.”

A Clean Sheet in soccer when a goal keeper keeps the other team from scoring.  It’s analogous to baseball’s very suitable term “shutout.”    The term “shutout” can still be reserved for the individual pitching accomplishment. To make room for soccer’s cool term, I propose baseball to adopt the term “Clean Sheet” for a team shutout.   A Clean Sheet is attributed to a team – the starter, the relievers and the defense.  All shutouts are clean sheets, but not all clean sheets are shutouts.

In determining the winner of a series of soccer matches (i.e. a home and away series), it can often come down to who scores the most “In Aggregate” (i.e. total goals) in the series.  Even though baseball resolves all of its games into wins and losses, making the term meaningless, I’d like to see in aggregate results for a series – just for bragging rights.

In the World Cup, when one tournament pairing of a group of four is stocked with good teams such that some otherwise deserving team is going to be held back from advancing (only 2 teams emerge from each group), it is called a Group of Death.  The group of Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, and North Korea has been pegged as the Group of Death for the 2010 World Cup.   From now on, in baseball, the AL East will be known as the Group of Death.

Conversely, the least interesting grouping of teams is called the Group of Sleep.  In MLB, it varies from year to year, but I nominate both Central divisions for MLB’s Group of Sleep.

In soccer, a game against a cross-town rival is called a Derby.   That’s a way-better term than baseball’s “natural rival” arrangement used in interleague play.  From now on, the annual interleague match-ups between (typically) regional teams shall be known as “Derbies,”  as in “The A’s and the Giants are playing their derby this weekend.”

In soccer a Golden goal is an overtime goal that ends a match.   I’m still fond of the recent (if overused) development in baseball as referring to game-ending events as “walkoff” events (i.e. walkoff homer, walkoff walk, walkoff balk).  Still, I’ll go with this and say that a “walkoff hit” and a “golden hit” can be used interchangeably.

I’m lifting this definition straight from the “” website.  The site defines  “Handbagging” as “when players are fighting on the field but just throwing soft punches or slaps, like old ladys throwing their handbags.”  I can’t wait for a baseball announcer to broadcast that there has been a bench-clearing handbagging.

Wikipedia defines “Lost the Dressing Room” as a soccer term used to describe “the situation where a manager of a club is seemingly very near to being sacked. The team will invariably be struggling on the pitch, the manager will be under a lot of pressure and the signs may be that he has lost the faith and respect of his players.”  Chang the word “sacked” to “fired” and the term is instantly transportable to baseball, describing two or three managers even at this moment.

If you have other terms you’d like to export across the pond or across the soccer/baseball divide, suggest away.

The following are websites I used to learn about soccer terms.


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