umpire "mechanic(s)"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 13 17:07:57 UTC 2005

>  >From the transcript of the press conference with the umpiring crew after
>last night's controversial Game 2 of baseball's American League
>Championship Series...
>Q: Doug, the replay seemed to clearly show you called swing and then out.
>What was your interpretation?
>Doug Eddings: My interpretation is that's my strike 3 mechanic, when it's
>a swinging strike. If you watch, that's what I do the whole entire game.
>If you watch the replay, you do watch me -- as I'm making the mechanic,
>I'm watching Josh Paul, so I'm seeing what he's going to do.
>This would seem to fall under OED3's def. B6 of "mechanic" ("a device,
>method, means"). But in umpiring lingo, "mechanic" has a more specific
>sense of "a physical and/or verbal signal when making a call".
I'd guess that this is a back-formation from the already well
established plural "mechanics", as in "He (player, umpire, whoever)
needs to work on his mechanics" or "I feel confident that I've
learned the mechanics."  (Note AHD sense 3:  (used with a plural
verb) ' The functional and technical aspects of an activity:  The
mechanics of football are learned with practice."

The mechanics for the umpiring activity would include, as you note,
physical and verbal signals for transmitting the call.  Watching
Eddings live and on tape last night, I'd say he needs to work on his
a bit.


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