Baseball lingo

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jun 3 14:47:13 UTC 2008

At 9:04 AM -0400 6/3/08, Charles Doyle wrote:
>In last night's TV broadcast (Cox SportSouth network) of the
>regional championship baseball game between the Univeristy of
>Georgia and Georgia Tech, the commentator consistently used the term
>"R.B.I." to refer to figures greater than 1--for instance, one
>player had "posted ten R.B.I. in the tournament."  I don't recall
>having heard that construction before.  I wonder whether the
>commentator regards "R.B.I." as a mass noun or interpretes the
>initialism to represent "runs batted in" as well as "run batted in."

I know I've heard that, although it is rarer than RBIs.  (Maybe even
rarer than "ribbies".)  I interpret it in the the latter sense, as an
initialism for 'run(s) batted in' rather than as a mass term.  I
wonder if there are other examples of this when there's a standard
initialism or acronym for a nominal phrase with internal plural
("runs batted in" as opposed to "run batted ins" in this case).  For
example, if (counterfactually) a potato au gratin was familiarly
known in the restaurant trade as a "PAG", might an order of two such
potatoes be referred to as either "two PAGs" or "two PAG"?  Or
"BOT"/"BOTs" for 'books on tape' in library lingo?  Real live
examples welcome.  (Of course only regular plurals need apply; the
unmarked-plural form of "MIB" for 'Men In Black" doesn't count.)

>The same commentator remarked on one occasion that Georgia kept
>"putting up crooked numbers"--meaning, presumably, numbers of runs
>higher than 1 (Georgia won the game 18-6). I had never heard that
>before either--though the phrase "crooked numbers" gets 9,670 raw
>Google hits and "crooked number" 8,380--many of them in reference to

This one has been around for ages, often in the goal for pitchers of
preventing the other team from putting up crooked numbers, hence the
permissibility of allowing solo home runs but bearing down with men
on base, snuffing out rallies early, etc.


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