Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Oct 26 15:18:43 UTC 2012

On Oct 26, 2012, at 9:47 AM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:

> To me, there is no problem saying Mo has a "wicked cutter". Adjectival use
> is well documented.
> DanG

One difference is that "wicked fastball" strikes me as a more likely collocation than "filthy fastball", precisely because of the sneakiness factor Jon mentions. Sliders, in bending away from the hitter, have this property, and Rivera's cutter/cut fastball, which also evaded rather than simply overpowering the hitters, certainly did, and hence is not infrequently described as a "filthy cutter".  Cf. also the Mets' R. A. Dickey and his "filthy knuckler".

I had surmised earlier that the references to the "filthy slider" of Brad Lidge dated to his successful days with the Astros, i.e. 2005 or 2006, but on closer examination they refer to his second life with the Phillies in 2008:

I found a blog from May 2006 referring to his "wicked bender".  But googling "filthy slider" + "2006" does pull up various exx., e.g.

110. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: March 14, 2006 at 05:09 AM (#1897746)
I don't know how Julio ever gets hit. He looked fantastic today. 96+ mph heat, and a filthy filthy slider.

talksox blog from 11-01-06, re some pitcher named Cox:
High 90's fastball with a filthy slider. Gets guys to swing and miss and gets ground ball outs. One of the steals of the 2006 draft.

and equal time for a Yankees blog, 4 days later, re Joba Chamberlain:
Word out of HBL is that Chamberlain is throwing 98-99 with a filthy slider (and his numbers have been great; he throws hard with good control).

So the positive "filthy [slider]" was well established by 2006.   Let's go back in time a bit…

Player Perspective: Zane Carlson
By John Manuel
March 2, 2004

Zane Carlson, rhp, Baylor
Class: Senior. Ht: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Age: 23.
Major: Health/Fitness.

RHP Zane Carlson appeared in his 92nd career game Saturday against Arizona, breaking Matthew Marcom's school record. Carlson already owns the Big 12 record in this category. Carlson was a first-team All-Freshman selection in 2000, when Baylor coach Steve Smith referred to him as a junior version of David Cone because of his filthy slider.

Does this count as documented?  How about this one, from a 2000 Houston Chronicle article re Randy Johnson:
Astros face intimidating Johnson
THU 06/29/2000 Houston Chronicle, Section Sports, Page 1, 2 STAR Edition

PHOENIX - Purely by luck of the draw, the Astros missed Randy Johnson each of the nine times they played the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999.
It's a good thing. Johnson was 17-9 with a 2.48 ERA en route to his second Cy Young Award last season.

"He's a challenge," Astros center fielder Richard Hidalgo said. "He's aggressive all the time, and he's got so much confidence. When you see him, you get the feeling that he knows he's very good."

Other than his mid-90s fastball, his filthy slider and his sniper-like accuracy, Johnson's aura might be the best thing he has going for him.

> On Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 9:35 AM, Alice Faber <faber at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Alice Faber <faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
>> Organization: Haskins Laboratories
>> Subject:      Re: filthy
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Is there an adjectival positive "wicked"? I'm only familiar with the
>> adverbial, in which case one might say that Mo Rivera has a "wicked
>> filthy cutter".
>> On 10/26/12 8:57 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>> I suspect, in these parts, it might be translated as "wicked".
>>>     VS-)
>>> On 10/26/2012 8:45 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>>> Isn't a slider "filthy" because it's specifically sneaky or tricky
>> rather
>>>> than broadly "cool" or "sweet"?
>>>> JL
>>>> On Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 2:16 AM, Victor Steinbok
>>>> <aardvark66 at>wrote:
>>>> I've heard it too, but 1) not in baseball (I don't follow baseball,
>>>> generally, and only watched the last inning today); 2) it's not
>>>> documented. I'm not claiming primacy in any way, but the usage should be
>>>> on the record. As for (1), think of the emotionally positive use of
>>>> "filthy rich".
>>>>      VS-)
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society -
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
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