Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Oct 26 16:05:58 UTC 2012

On Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 11:18 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> 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.

When the baseball usage of "filthy" came up on the list five years
ago, I gave an example of "filthy changeup" from 1999 (see below).

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at>
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2007 at 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: Greasy = dirty?
To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at>

On 6/8/07, Jim Parish <jparish at> wrote:
> Alice Faber wrote:
> > > "It's a greasy job," he said, "but somebody has to do it."
> > (The speaker is a minor-league player, probably c. 20, from Western Canada.)
> >
> > More generally, in hockey, "greasy" generally means "gritty" or "tough":
> Not directly related, but recently I've begun seeing the word "filthy"
> used on baseball blogs to mean "extremely deceptive / hard to hit", as
> in "a filthy curveball". I don't recall seeing it before this season.

A quick check of baseball newsgroups on Usenet finds relevant uses
back to Feb. '99 (a post referring to a UCLA pitcher's "filthy


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list