How well do you know your baseball jargon?

SPORTS

Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

"Texas leaguer," "can of corn," "tools of ignorance" ... baseball generates slang like few other sports do. If you think you speak the lingo of the diamond, test your knowledge now with our quiz!

What is "the plate"?

This was an easy one. Incidentally, a pitcher's mound also has a plate, from which he pushes off while pitching, but you'll hear this "plate" referred to much less often.

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What is a "bag"?

The three infield bases are raised "bags," compared to home plate, which is hard and set into the dirt. This is why you'll hear runners referred to as "getting a foot on the bag."

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Who is the "skipper"?

"Skipper" is slang borrowed from sailing. It means "captain," or the guy in charge of it all.

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What is the DL?

You'll hear this often when announcers are doing their pre-game chatter. Who's on and off the DL greatly affects a team's chances of winning.

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If there are "ducks on the pond," what's going on?

If there are "ducks on the pond," a manager will make decisions differently than when the bases are empty. For example, an opposing manager might pull a struggling pitcher, to keep him from giving up runs.

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What is a "fireballer"?

"Fireballers" are always in demand. But watch out -- if a hitter really connects with a fastball, the very speed of the pitch almost guarantees that ball is gone -- it's physics!

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What is "painting the corners"?

Not all pitchers can throw in the triple digits (miles per hour). Getting the ball to the very edges of the strike zone, and thus tempting hitters into not swinging, is a skill that can make up for a lack of heat on the fastball. Don't confuse this term with "runners on the corners," though, which is having runners on first and third.

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What is a "suicide squeeze"?

In a suicide squeeze, the baserunner knows that his teammate is going to bunt, but doesn't wait to see if it's successful. He's just taking off on a wing and a prayer.

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What is a "can of corn"?

A "high pop-up" is usually a "can of corn," or an easy catch to make. This term is believed to come from the days when players worked low-paying jobs in the off-season -- like stocking shelves at grocery stores, where they tossed and caught canned foods.

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If a player is "Cadillacking," what is he doing?

This is the classic, leisurely home-run jog. We suspect more than one groundskeeper, when no players or management staff are around, has done this for fun.

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If you have an "iron glove," what do you have?

Yup, an "iron glove" is poor fielding. It's the equivalent of a lead foot on the base paths.

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Who "retires the side"?

To "retire the side" is to get three outs, ending the inning. Even better is to "retire the side in order," -- in other words, "three up, three down."

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What does the letter K represent?

Fans hang "K" signs on the stadium railings, adding one for every strikeout a pitcher earns. It's typical to turn the third "K" backward, so as not to accidentally evoke the Ku Klux Klan on national TV.

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What is a "slugger"?

"Slugging percentage" is part of a player's statistics. Sluggers often bat fourth in the order, on the hope that there will be players on base for him to get home.

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If the players are "clearing the benches," what are they getting ready to do?

The common term for a significant fight in baseball is a "bench-clearing brawl." A really big one will include the relief pitchers, who arrive late because they have to jog in from the bullpen.

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What are the Tools of Ignorance?

This doesn't mean catchers are dumb: in fact, they tend to be savvy, respected team leaders. Instead, it refers to the deliberate blind eye catchers have to turn to the danger they've put themselves in, putting their heads so close to a swinging wooden club and a 100-mph missile of a ball.

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What is a "beanball"?

This comes, of course, from the expression "getting beaned." While illegal, it's semi-tolerated among players if a pitcher does it as retribution for unsportsmanlike play; it's less acceptable if the pitcher does it because of personal dislike of a hitter or fear of his slugging abilities.

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What is the "Mendoza line"?

Player Mario Mendoza had a career batting average of 2.15. It's become a benchmark in hitting for an average performance.

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What is "scoring position"?

If a runner is on second or third, that's considered "scoring position," from which the runner can get home if the guy at the plate gets as much as a single. But even third base might not be "scoring position" if you're not fast enough (we're looking at you, catchers!)

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Which of these is NOT a slang term for the Major Leagues?

Minor-league players fantasize about getting to "the Bigs" or "the Show." The latter term was introduced to non-baseball fans by the hit 80s movie, "Bull Durham."

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Who gets "crossed up"?

Getting "crossed up" means that either the pitcher or catcher got confused about which pitch was to be thrown, which usually forces the catcher to scramble to keep the ball from getting away (or to duck to keep from getting hit). Simply put, it's a misunderstanding.

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What is a "balk"?

It takes a real baseball geek to understand all the things that constitute a balk. Not all of them involve unfair play on the part of the pitcher, either: A San Francisco Giants pitcher reportedly was charged with a balk when strong winds caused him to sway and shift position on the mound.

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What is a team's magic number?

The opposite of this is a team's "tragic number." That's the number of games it will lose before being mathematically eliminated from winning its division.

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What is a "safety squeeze"?

A bunt is a good opportunity to get a run home. This version of the squeeze has the baserunner show a bit of caution, instead of jetting from third base as soon as the pitch is thrown.

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What is "chin music"?

"Chin music" sounds like it should be heckling or arguing, but it's not. This kind of high-inside pitch will often make a batter think twice about crowding the plate.

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What is "rhubarb"?

Fans consider this part of baseball's entertainment value. It can end with a manager getting thrown out of the game -- not infrequently, in fact.

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What are the "bush leagues"?

You probably know this one, as it's spread into common use. Unprofessional or petty behavior is often called "bush league."

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What is a Texas leaguer?

We're not sure why an unimpressive hit is linked to Texas. Maybe it's because in Texas, football is king, so it's associated with lackluster performance on the diamond.

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Who/what makes a "bad hop"?

A "bad hop" is when a ball moves in an unpredictable way, causing the fielder to be delayed in getting a glove on it. This is usually due to small anomalies in the field, not the skill of the batter.

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What is the counterpart of the Cactus League?

There are two Spring Training locations: Arizona and Florida. The former is called "the Cactus League," and the other is named for Florida's wealth of citrus.

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What is a "frozen rope"?

"Frozen rope" might sound odd, but it does imply a certain solidity. In other words, it's a strong, straight-line hit that only the stiffest wind could blow off course.

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What is a "brushback"?

This is a pitcher's way of warning a hitter to stop crowding the plate. See also "chin music." Incidentally, the age of those easy lobs between pitcher and catcher are over: an intentional walk is now "stipulated," a move meant to speed up the game.

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A hitter who frequently steps out of the batter's box is called what?

Baseball is a slow game. When a player steps out a lot, to adjust his shoes or his cup or whatever, you can't blame other players and fans for being sarcastic about it.

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Who is likely to do a "tomahawk chop"?

The "tomahawk chop" breaks out, along with a war cry, during a critical pitcher's duel or when a Braves' rally seems imminent. Culturally insensitive? Sure. But it caught fire in the Atlanta Braves' "worst-to-first" season in 1992, after the Braves had been perennial losers for years, and Atlanta fans refused to give it up.

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What is a fielder's choice?

Related, but not the same thing, is the infield fly rule. That says that an infielder can't deliberately let a fly ball drop to the infield to force the more advantageous out.

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