The latest edition of Ben’s Bookshelf appeared on MiLB.com this past Thursday. The featured book this time through is Jesse Goldberg-Strassler’s “The Baseball Thesaurus.” It looks a little something like this:
The Baseball Thesaurus is just what its name implies. To quote my own (stellar) writing, the book is “an alphabetized romp through the baseball lexicon peppered with quirky anecdotes, vintage photos and memorable quotes.”
The Baseball Thesaurus greatly enhances my ability to turn pedestrian baseball sentences into flowery works of national pastime poetry, and for this I am grateful. Using the thesaurus, one can transform a bland remark such as “The pitcher threw a curveball and the batter hit it over the fence” into “The hurlester buggywhipped a snapdragon and the swatsmith manhandled it beyond the rampart.” (Reader comprehension be damned!)
Words, let’s not mince them: I am a nerd who enjoys writing in this antiquated (and, yes, borderline pretentious) sort of way. So last Thursday afternoon I took to Twitter and asked my ragtag band of followers to submit run-of-the-mill baseball sentences so that I could then gussy them up with the Thesaurus. Some highlights:
1. “The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the middle innings and held on for a 3-2 win.” (submitted by @NatsProspects)
@NatsProspects is kind of messing with me here, by submitting a sentence that is already gussied up! The alliterative “Northfield Nine” can’t really be improved upon, nor can the use of “picket fence” to describe three one-run innings in a row. But, beyond that, I did my best to tweak it up (although the only instance in which I was able to employ The Baseball Thesaurus was with the word “inning”). My version:
“The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the centermost stanzas, and persevered for a 3-2 triumph.”
2. “The runner tags from second and is thrown out by the right fielder.” (submitted by @LivingInAJar)
In this case, The Baseball Thesaurus equipped me with the tools I needed to go on an alliterative rampage:
“The tenant tags from the second station, but is vanquished at the coffin corner by the rightfield retriever.”
3. “‘fly ball…..caught’ or anything else Harry Doyle broadcast during the amazing 1989/1990 Indians seasons” (submitted by @Spike_RRE)
For those who may have forgotten, Harry Doyle is the name of the Cleveland Indians announcer played by Bob Uecker in the Major League films. You know, this guy:
“Fly ball…caught” can be transformed into “Cloud-scraper…captured”, but why stop there? Here’s another Harry Doyle quote, transformed via the Thesaurus.
“That ball is off his glove and outta here!” becomes “That lemon is off his lobster trap and over the barricade!”
4. “Sharp two-out single up the middle. This will score two.” (submitted by @CJBoerger)
Okay, this’ll be the last one. My transformative attempt:
“Screaming Meemie to the center of the outer garden. This will send two plateward.”
And then there is the great art of photography, each example of which is worth 1000 words. This picture, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon by the fast-acting folks @IndianapolisEMS, is my favorite example in quite some time.
Unforeseen technological adversity has made it so that I can’t post this picture. So, click HERE to see a droopy-eyed bear practicing first aid on a severed torso.
As regular readers of this esteemed blog are well aware, there is nothing I like more than writing unsolicited commendations of Minor League PR innovations in exchange for little or no recognition. That’s what I was put on this Earth to do, and who am I to argue with my cosmic destiny?
Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I direct your attention to a novel and interesting contest that was staged by the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars. At the start of the 2008 campaign, 96 former Cougar players had appeared in the Major Leagues. I’ll let the press release take it from here:
This past March, the Cougars began a “100th Cougar Contest” in
conjunction with the organization potentially reaching the milestone
this season. Fans were encouraged to submit a guess from a preselected
ballot of nine former Cougars who were on the verge of becoming Major
Leaguers this season.
One of these pre-selected Cougars was right-handed reliever Jeff Gray, who played for Kane County in 2006. Gray made his Major League debut with the Oakland Athletics on September 8, and in the process became Cougar #100 to make it to the bigs.
Take it away, press release:
Cougars fan Kerry Palmiter of suburban Romeoville was the randomly
selected entry winner. Palmiter submitted the correct guess earlier
this summer and will receive an authentic Cougars home jersey with
special #100 embroidery.
This is the first time I have ever heard of such an innovation, and it is definitely a good one. Focusing on alumni success in the Major Leagues encourages the team’s fans to follow former Cougars as they climb the Minor League ladder. Perhaps more importantly, it drives home the point that fans are watching future Major Leaguers each and every time they attend a Cougars game. Perhaps this is obvious, but it is a distinction that can be lost on casual fans, due to the fact that the level of play at Class A (and lower) often seems worlds away from “The Show”.
In Other News: Congratulations to the Fresno Grizzlies for winning MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year” for 2008. The club’s Mascot Showdown netted more than half of the 9,149 total votes cast, while the Lancaster JetHawks came in second with 23% of the vote.