Suffering from baseball confusion? Here's a quick guide to help you enjoy the game


Baseball is famous for its slang terms. Here’s a quick-reference dictionary so you don’t get left in the dugout (not a baseball slang-term):

“At-bat” = An ‘at-bat’ has occurred when a batter has struck out, put the ball in play and got out, or put the ball in play and was safe. A walk (4 balls) does not constitute an ‘at-bat’. It is registered as a non-attempt (0-0). An error by the fielding team, resulting in the batter getting on base, does not count as a hit, rather, it is registered in his statistics as 0 hits in 1 attempt (0-1)

“Sacrifice fly” = Batting team has a runner on 3rd base and less than 2 outs in the inning. The batter hits a fly ball or line drive out, but the base-runner tags up and scores anyways. This is also registered in the box score (game statistics) as a non-attempt (0-0)

“RBI” = Runners Batted In. A batter gets credit for an ‘RBI’ when a base-runner scores as a result of their at-bat. An RBI can occur on a hit, a walk, a sacrifice fly, or an out. A batter does not get an RBI as a result of a fielding team’s error

“Batting average” = This is the average number of at bats it takes for a batter to get a hit. For instance, if a batter averages 3 at bats to get 1 hit, their ‘batting average’ will be .333

“Can of corn” = Easy fly-ball out

“Tater”, “Shot”, “Bomb”, “Ding-dong”, “Blast”, “Homer”, “Moon shot”, “Jack”, “Ya-Ya”, “No-doubter”, “Lose one” = Home Run

“Balk” = When a pitcher is standing on the pitching rubber (the white strip on top of the mound), and comes set (by standing still with his hand and ball in his glove), he can do only 1 of 2 things: he can either pitch the bull to the batter, or he can step back off of the rubber and either try to pick off the runner, or just step off, in which case he can do whatever he wants. If any other movement occurs, or he drops the ball, a ‘balk’ is called, and the runner(s) gets to advance 1 base

[When referencing a player or a pitch] “Dirty”, “Filthy”, “Nasty”, “Sick” = He’s a good pitcher/It was a good pitch

[When referencing a batter] “He spit on it” = He’s seeing the ball well and did not swing at ball

A quick overview of some of the more confusing rules specific to baseball and changes this year and last year:

4 balls in an at-bat means the batter walks, 3 strikes in an at-bat means the batter is out (just in case you're a total rookie.

“Tag up” = If there is a runner on base and the batter hits a fly ball, the runner cannot advance from his base until the fielder has made the catch. If the runner has already advanced, the fielder can through to the base they were supposed to be at, and if the ball beats the runner back to the base, they are out as well

“Force out” = If there is a runner(s) on base, and they are in a situation where they must advance to the next base if the ball is hit (ie. if there is not an open base behind them, like there would be if there was only a runner on 2nd baseball – but no one on 1st ), the fielding team would only need to through the ball to the base and touch the base to get the runner out (there is always a force at first). If there is no force out, the fielding team needs to touch the runner with the ball (in a glove is fine) while they are off of a base to get him out.

“Infield fly rule” = If there are runners on base in a ‘force out’ scenario (above), and a batter hits a “pop fly” (fly ball) in the vicinity of the infield, the umpire will say “Infield-fly rule is in effect”. This means that the batter is automatically out, regardless of whether the fielding team catches the ball or not. This rule is in effect to protect the batting team from the fielding team intentionally not catching the ball, so that they could get a double-play (as base-runners have to “tag up” on a fly ball.

“Ground-rule double” = A batter hits a ball that lands in fair territory, and then bounces in to the stands or out of play. The batter must stop at second base, because the fielding team does not have a play on the ball.

There are two major “new” rules, the first was implemented last year (video review challenge) and the second is new this year (slide rule around 2nd base). Both are sure to be a topic of discussion at your local watering hole:

“Coaches video review challenge” [implemented last year] = Coaches have the ability to challenge an out or safe call on the field, by asking for a video replay review. If the coaches challenge proves successful, they team may challenge another play later in the game. If the challenge is unsuccessful, they team may not challenge another play that game. Teams cannot challenge balls and strikes.

“Bonafide Slide” = In the past, certain liberties were taken by base-runners “taking out” fielders with their slides in to second (and third base). Runners now have 3 requirements when sliding into a base, or they risk being called out because of obstruction to the fielder 1) He must make contact with the ground before the base 2) He must try to maintain contact with the base upon sliding (rather than sliding through or rolling) 3) He may not make an attempt to interfere with the fielding player

If you have any slang to add or would like a term or rule clarified, send me an email or comment on this blog post and I will do my best to break it down! Are you a Blue Jays fan (or would you like to be)? Check out the breakdown of this year's squad.

#majorleaguebaseball #baseball #baseballrules #slang

Brendan Rolfe
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