The Unabridged Eck-tionary

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A Reference Guide to the Colorful Expressions Used By Red Sox TV Analyst Dennis Eckersley

If you’ve been able to stay up late to watch the Red Sox start their season on the West Coast (and if you have given their dismal performance – good for you) you have undoubtedly noticed the presence of former Red Sox starter and Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley in the broadcast booth.  In the offseason, Eckersley signed a five year deal with NESN that will have him working 85 Sox games per year, which will take some of the load off long-time analyst and fan favorite Jerry Remy.  The pair will even team up for up to 30 games per year to create a three man team with play-by-play man Dave O’Brien.

Photo courtesy of homerundaily.com
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Eckersley is an original talent and a genuine personality.  His knowledge of pitching and his enthusiasm for the game set him apart from the stable of Remy fill-ins that have been used over the past several years (Jonny Gomes, Mike Timlin, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to name a few).  With his new deal in place, you’ll be hearing a lot more of Eck in the coming years.

Eckersley’s most distinguishing trait is the many terms and phrases he utilizes to describe different aspects of the game.  After all, it was Eck who initially coined the phrase “Walk Off” after giving up the pinch hit home run to Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.  It has now become as common a baseball term as “clean-up hitter” or “closer”.

In some cases Eck’s phrases are self-explanatory.  Others are not as clear.  As a public service to Red Sox fans, we offer the first Dennis Eckersley to English Dictionary, a.k.a the “Eck-tionary”.



General References

  • Moss – a good head of hair (not to be confused with the “hair” on a fastball – see below).
  • Pair of Shoes – occurs when a batter takes a called third strike, likely meaning he is just standing there looking in his shoes.
  • <Fill in the blank> Piece – Used to emphasize an exceptional element or performance.  Common prefaces are slide, change, hesitation, walk-off.  "He has a nice slide piece (slider) working tonight!”
  • Stay in Shape – something a player will do on occasion whether he needs to or not. “He will punch out a guy every inning just to stay in shape.”

Pitching References

  • Center Cut – a hittable pitch thrown in the middle of the strike zone.
  • Cheese – an average fastball.  Sometimes combined with “piece of cheese” or “mediocre cheese”.
  • Cookie – a pitch that is served up to a batter that is easy to hit.  “He threw him a cookie right down the middle”.
  • Do Drop In – a slow curveball that starts high and drops into the strike zone.
  • Dottage – the placement of a pitch in a specific location within the strike zone, usually in the corners at the bottom of the zone.
  • Hair – an above-average fastball which appears to accelerate as it approaches the plate.  “That pitch had some hair on it.”
  • Paint – a pitch, usually a fastball, which passes over the outer edge of the plate.
  • Salad – the type of pitches thrown by a pitcher who doesn’t have high velocity.  “He doesn’t light up the radar gun, he throws salad.”

Home Run References

  • Bridge – commonly used in the phrase “He went bridge.”
  • Johnson – commonly used with a reference to the number of runs scored – “He just hit a three run johnson”.  Possibly derived as a phallic reference for another slang term for home runs – a “dong”.
  • Leave Earth – the act a batter inflicts on the baseball when hitting, or trying to hit, a deep home run.  “With that swing he is looking to leave earth!
  • Lift and separate – a batter’s ability to elevate a pitch for a home run.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Unabridged Eck-tionary
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