“Innings-eater”. A long-suffering starter most likely
found on poor teams. Every see the Yankees looking to sign innings-eaters? I saw this term being attributed to
Morris in one of the San
Francisco stories after his signing as if
it was a compliment. Look out!
“Workhorse”. As in “Brett Tomko is a…” Similar to innings-eater. The former
Cardinal has often received credit for pitching a lot of innings, but that
doesn’t mean he was very good when doing so. As an aside, Tomko left the Giants
rotation just before Morris entered.
“Gritty”. As in, “Bo Hart is a gritty
player.” Plays hard, but not
“Gamer”. Always plays whether injured or not
feeling well or whatever. Again,
not always necessarily great results come from the gamer, but he always looks
good in doing so. Jim Edmonds has been called a gamer by
“Knows how to
win”. Another backhanded compliment. Average
pitcher on a good team who is fortunate to rack up a lot of wins. There are
those who lump Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis in this category, as
if ability has nothing to do with it.
“Plays the game
right”. Unspectacular player who performs
without showing off, but again, the results may or may not consistently be
there. So Taguchi and any other “fundamentally solid” player come to mind.
Japanese imports always receive the benefit of the doubt here, at least until
the honeymoon is over. See Kaz Matsui.
“Throwback”. A reference to a player who plays like
they did in the “good old days”, as if players always did before, but never do
today. Often also “plays the game
right” and is a “gritty” player. Regularly “gets his uniform dirty”, making this
type of player universally disliked by clubhouse attendants throughout the
“Makes the difficult plays look
easy”. Well, maybe those plays WERE easy? Also, sometimes these same players make
the easy plays look hard.
Edmonds is accused by some of fitting
defense”. Either the player has a Gold Glove or he
doesn’t. In this case, doesn’t. This term usually sprouts up when teams are
lobbying in the court of public opinion for their favorite player. Mark
Grudzielanek had a nice 2005 season, but hadn’t earned a Gold Glove in any of
his ten previous seasons, either.
“Clutch hitter”. Often based on reputation, not fact.
Here is a classic example. Who could ever forget renowned clutch hitter Tino Martinez’ .210 average with runners in scoring position for the 2003 Cardinals?
That would have to be more accurately characterized as a slipping
hitter”. Commonly heard during the first half of
the season when a hitter is performing terribly. Wouldn’t it be great if these
guys would receive second-half salaries only?
“Playing for a contract” or in a
“salary drive”. When a player is in the final year of
his current deal, it is implied that he will try harder than usual and achieve
better numbers as a result. Statistics don’t support this, though it is commonly
assumed. Just ask Morris and Julian Tavarez about their second halves of
“In a zone at the
plate”. Used when a hitter is on a hot streak.
Apparently, they are in a different zone (ozone, perhaps?) the rest of the time.
Or, as in the case of Einar Diaz, at least a different area
“Fireballer”. A hurler who throws very hard, but not
necessarily accurately. Reference as “Exhibit A” the pitcher formerly known as
“Future Ace”. A young pitcher, usually a fireballer,
who has not yet proven over a period of time whether or not he can stay healthy
long enough to consistently get hitters out. Anthony Reyes has clearly been
anointed as the Cardinals’ Future Ace.
“Closer of the
future”. Used for the guy who may have formerly
been the Future Ace, but had to be converted to relief. Unfortunately, for
whatever reason (injury, trade, ineffectiveness or a combination thereof), the
closer of the future usually never becomes the all-important “Closer of the
Present”. With his departure, Jim Journell has formally vacated his long-held
title to Mark Worrell, perhaps.
Brian Walton can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
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