Thursday, June 26, 2008

Toward a more digital nomenclature

Do kids playing baseball run the bases and slide into home plate? Not any more. Give me a few secs to explain. I was shooting baskets in the park this evening, and in a nearby field was a squad of eleven- and twelve-year-olds shagging flies and taking grounders. The kids were coached by a leather-lunged guy who had trained them to call out the bases to where the ball was to be thrown. When I was a kid in Texas, we used to yell to the outfielder, “Third base, third!” or “Throw home!” Well, these kids are taught to shout a number – “Three!” – and the outfielder grabs the ball and throws it to third base. The weirdest thing is to hear the call to home: “Four, four!” They’re throwing to “four” – not home plate. So baseball nomenclature is becoming completely digital. I guess you could imagine a day when your glove is a five and a chipped tooth is one of your thirty-twos. To me, all coaches seem like big zeros. This guy’s assistant was a half-wit. It got dark and they all piled into their SUVs and drove four.



Anonymous said...

That is such a lame coaching approach. No sense of history. Thinks Babe Ruth is a candy bar. Only.

brandsinger said...

Good point. Sense of history should prevail in baseball, of all games.

Jason said...

As a baseball enthusiast, I appreciate your instincts to defend the historical elements of the game. However, I must let you know that calling home, "four," has absolutely nothing to do with the digital age. I remember using this term throughout my high school baseball experience (1991-1995), for what it's worth. It's more of an insider's baseball term... perhaps comparable to calling the umpire "blue," as in "hey blue, you missed that call."

I think calling home, "four" has a functional purpose, in that players need to be able to shout it out across the field to, for example, a teammate with his back turned. Shouting a word that begins with a the soft sound of "h" is less effective than one with the harder sound of "f." Plus, logically, since four is the natural extension to one, two, and three, I'd be willing to be that it has a cognitive benefit as well (albeit surely a minor one).