Glossary of inside jokes.

When we start in with inside jokes on Twitter or in chats, I’m often asked by newer readers what some of the hashtags and terms mean, but it’s hard to stop everything else to explain myself – especially in 140 characters. So with that in mind, here’s a far-from-complete list of those various jokes

#andrelted: When Andrelton Simmons does something amazing in the field, which is pretty much every night. See also #belted.

#arbitraryendpoints: Also known as cherry-picking, this means choosing one or both endpoints on a series of games to try to analyze a player. I’ve argued that it’s not arbitrary if the endpoint is tied to something specific, like a change in mechanics, an injury, or a recall from the minors, but even so, it’s always dangerous to throw out any data when you want to draw a conclusion.

#belted: When Brandon Belt homers. Actually originated with #poseyed the year before, but Posey hit too many homers and it got old fast. Even the #belted thing is probably nearing the end of its useful life.

#bowlofjello: That would be Clint Hurdle, who is probably the worst thing going for the Pirates right now, and whom I referred to by this moniker in a July 2012 tweet.

#classy (with or without the #): Refers to Michael Young, and the seeming blindness of some local writers in Dallas to the erosion of his on-field value, after which they would defend him by referring to him as “classy.” Classy is great but it doesn’t turn all those outs into hits. I should point out that use of the term isn’t actually a shot at Young, but how members of the media treat him.

#GUY: From my April 2013 podcast with Chris Sprow, where he brought up the difference between calling a player a “guy” (as in, “he’s just a guy”) and calling him a “GUY” (e.g., Byron Buxton). It turns out that football and baseball people both use the word in the same way.

#heathbellexperience: Possibly invented by Steve Berthiaume, now used to describe Heath Bell doing Heath Bell things, mostly giving up massive home runs. Antecedent of the less-common #jimjohnsonexperience.

#holtzmansfolly: The save rule, which has done more damage to the game on the field and to roster construction than any other statistic in the history of the game. Of course, the BBWAA gave the nitwit who invented this stat the Spink Award, because if that organization is good at one thing, it’s self-congratulation.

#idito: From an angry and not very bright Cardinals fan in 2009 who was mad that I didn’t include Chris Carpenter on my NL Cy Young ballot that year. Related to the now obsolete term #obsurd, from another equally angry and equally not very bright Cardinals fan that same day.

#meow: Every time a reader accuses me of bias, God kills a kitten. From the defunct Baseball Today podcast. RIP Bias Cat.

Moran: If you’re going to insult someone, especially by calling them stupid, you probably should look in the mirror first. Not my joke.

More-singles defense: The no-doubles defense.

#preeminent: I appeared on ESPN’s Philadelphia affiliate right after Ryan Howard signed his five-year extension, only to be ambushed by the host of the show in question, who kept referring to Howard as the “preeminent” power hitter in the game. So, whenever it pays to point out that the contract is as awful today as it appeared to be when the Phillies gave it to him, we trot out this tag.

#robotumpsnow: Creation obscure – seemed like a bunch of us started using it around the same time so I won’t take any credit. Refers mostly to awful ball/strike calls by home plate umps, and the fact that replacing that with currently available technology would be an immediate improvement.

SHANF: I think Crashburn Alley started this one – at least, that’s how I first saw it – which originally referred to Shane Victorino doing something a little dim on the field. Given his 2013 season, and how much I ragged on that contract last offseason, if I drop a “SHANF” now, I’m making fun of myself and my very wrong analysis about him.

#smrtbaseball: A little bit of The Simpsons applied to baseball, this refers to tactical moves that are anything but smart, especially ill-advised bunts or intentional walks, as well as batting a low-OBP guy in the two hole. It appears to have started here:

#shrimp/#shrimpalert: Refers to a walk-off walk (walking in the winning run because the bases were loaded). Not mine – originated on the walkoffwalk blog here.

should of: That’s all Fan Since 09, a brilliant parody of a Phillies fan who hopped on the bandwagon right after they won the World Series.

#SSS: Small Sample Size. In other words, I’m saying the performance in question is more a function of the randomness inherent in small samples of plate appearances or innings pitched than a change in skill or outlook. Fangraphs has a few pieces on when samples aren’t small any more. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that if we look at 100 players who’ve reached that threshold, we’re still likely to see one or two players whose stats haven’t stabilized or regressed – it would be more surprising if we didn’t see any outliers at all.

#tehfear: As in, The Fear, the thing that Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy said Jim Rice provoked in opposing pitchers, and that thus made Rice worthy of Hall of Fame induction. It’s just the kind of unverifiable, unfalsifiable nonsense that people use when defeated by rational arguments.

TOOTBLAN: Thrown Out On the Bases Like a Nincompoop. Invented by Cubs blogger Tony Jewell for Ryan Theriot. I’m blocked from the original site due to Google saying it’s infected with malware, but you can see the relevant part of the initial post here.

#umpshow: Any time an umpire decides that he wants to make himself the center of attention, especially by attempting to provoke a conflict with a player or coach, it’s an umpshow. Fans don’t watch games to see the umpires ump. We watch to see the players. It would be great if the minority of umpires who think all eyes should be on them could understand that. Not to be confused with basic incompetence, where #robotumpsnow or #thehumanelement might be more accurate.

#veteranpresents: Started in this chat, regarding Garret Anderson, when the Dodgers signed him to provide veteran presence in their lineup. I decided it was more likely he was a veteran who handed out presents to other players and coaches in the locker room, since that seemed like the only way he’d provide any value. It is a mortal lock that any time I drop this hashtag, at least three people will claim I misspelled “presence,” because they were both without a sense of humor.

#weirdbaseball: Refers to any game that goes past midnight local time (that is, where the game is being played), at which point, everyone is supposed to eat ice cream. Invented by my former colleague Kevin Goldstein (RIP).

#YCPB: You Can’t Predict Baseball, so you should follow this Twitter account.

#your: I don’t play grammar police very often, but it is amazing how often people who send me insults on Twitter can’t get “your” and “you’re” straight. I believe it was @ceeangi who first pointed out this phenomenon.

Omissions? Corrections? Fire ’em in the comments. This list really isn’t mine, but ours as a community, so I’ll update accordingly.

Write More Good and Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big.

So The Bureau Chiefs, the geniuses behind the Twitter account @FakeAPStylebook (and now @FakePewResearch), sent me a copy of their first book, Write More Good, earlier this year. It’s almost all fresh material rather than a compendium of tweets, combining a fake writing stylebook with a fake self-help book for would-be journalists. And it is hilarious, especially since I do write for a living.

Each chapter covers a different area of journalism, some on specific sections of a newspaper, others on fundamentals like grammar or not getting yourself sued into oblivion. (To wit, the glossary entry on Scientology is simply “Our legal department informs us that Scientology is just swell.” Although the entry on Clear Channel – “see: Skynet” – might ruffle some feathers.) Freed from the constraints of 140 characters per joke, the writers stretch out to entire paragraphs before returning to 140-character jokes in the form of bullet points and glossary entries, although the book is surprisingly short on footnotes.

If you’ve read the @FakeAPStylebook feed, you know the writers (there are many, or just one with many personalities) can veer from crude humor to subtle satire from one tweet to the next. That style worked better for me on the printed page, which surprised me, but the constant careening between styles of humor kept me off balance the way an episode of Parks and Recreation does. The section on how to write about global warming, for example, includes bullet points about how your editor is going to put a picture of a sad polar bear next to the article, how you are obligated to mention in an article on a climate-change conference that it is currently cold somewhere in the world, how you should quote pundits who criticize celebrity activists who drive SUVs, and “We’re not saying not to mention cow farts when talking about climate change, but, dude: cow farts. That’s hysterical.” (Followed by a table of suggested “storms of the century names” that reminded me of this e-card.)

The sports chapter was, of course, a particular favorite, including thoughts on dealing with angry fans on the Internet, followed by references to Mario Mendoza, Darko Mlicic (RIP), Gerry Cooney, and, for no apparent reason, jai alai. The book is loaded with references to films, literature, and historical figures and events that more than once sent me to the computer to figure out what I’d missed. And the unconventional format means that if you didn’t like (or get) one joke, just keep reading, because there are ten more on the same page. It’s less a labor of love than the fruits of frustration for journalists who have seen journalism from the inside and are still undergoing intensive therapy to try to forget it.

If, however, you’re looking for something you can share with your little one(s), I just bought another of Berkeley Breathed’s children’s books, since Mars Needs Moms! was such a hit with my daughter. (Too bad the movie got such awful reviews.) This one, Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big, isn’t as sentimental as that book, with more outrageous humor and hints of the snark that made Bloom County such a big part of my 1980s memories.

Told by Edwurd’s little sister, Fannie Fudwupper, Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big is the story of a little liar who spins some pretty tall tales until, one day, he breaks a ceramic pig dear to his mother and, rather than taking responsibility, comes up with an elaborate fib so big that the Army and Air Force get involved, as well as some sort of space monster whose head is as big as the Earth and who has an eye on the end of his nose. These unforeseen consequences (piled on an earlier, funnier fib) lead to a surprisingly sweet resolution as well as a lesson on lying – I think. The meter and wordplay seem like a cross between an homage to and parody of Dr. Seuss, while the exaggerated drawings call to mind the best Bloom County Sunday strips.

And, of course, my wife’s Etsy shop, featuring earrings and necklaces she’s designed, remains open for business. Enter coupon code “TWELVE” to get 12% off (note: entering “FIFTY” will not have the analogous effect).

Alphabet Juice.

The 2011 organizational rankings are up on for Insiders. The two most upset fan bases are Cleveland, because I ranked them 17th; and the Yankees, because I didn’t rank the Red Sox 30th.

> special
“It’s good that they don’t make many players like Albert Pujols, because if there were more, he wouldn’t be so special, and Albert Pujols is very special.” – Murray Chass, The New York Times. See special.

Roy Blount, Jr., humorist, former sportswriter, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me… panelist, and word-lover, takes aim at etymology and bad writing alike in Alphabet Juice, a book organized like a dictionary and aiming both high and low with its targets. If you like words and get equal joy from a malapropism and an explanation of how livid (which means furious, with a connotation of red-faced) comes from the Latin word meaning “to be bluish,” this is a book for you.

In Alphabet Juice, Blount chooses words with interesting stories or for which he can offer a brief quote (like the one above) or quip or (regrettably) some light verse. The anecdote that constitutes the entry for “TV, on being on” runs from William Ginsburg to Saul Bellow to Designing Women to Kathleen Sullivan to Claude Monet, all inside of four pages. Blount sneaks in some memoir-ish material as well, such as an entry for “Wilt: A Tall Tale,” that starts out with musings on whether Wilt Chamberlain could really have slept with 20,000 women (Wilt: “Well, there was this one birthday party…”) but ends with Blount mediating between an angry Wilt and Blount’s drunken editor.

Some of the entries reveal Blount as a Lynne Truss-ian grammar stickler, a bent of which I approve:

> unique
I have to be firm on this: unique is not to be modified. Adding very or absolutely is like putting a propeller on a rabbit to make him hop better. It won’t work, and he won’t be a rabbit any more.

I’ve always been partial to the analogy that something can be “almost unique” in the way that you can be “almost pregnant.” There is a word for the idea expressed by “almost unique” – unusual. Use it. Please.

Blount’s love of words (aside from a love of language – these are two different afflictions) even brings this fun entry that should appeal to the anagrammists and Scrabblers in the audience:

> transposition game
Rearranging the letters in one word of an existing title or well-known phrase. Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception becomes The Odors of Perception. The Continental Army becomes the continental Mary. I’m told that Burt Bernstein, then a writer at The New Yorker, learned of this game and found himself to be good at it. He hastened to his brother Leonard, who had always been better at everything than Burt, but now, finally, maybe … Burt explained the game. Leonard looked up from whatever major thing he was doing and said: “Icy fingers up and down my penis.”

If there’s a flaw in Alphabet Juice, it’s that it’s a book to be perused rather than read. There’s no narrative, and the themes and jokes to which Blount returns again and again are scattered throughout the book. You could follow his suggestions to see other entries, but would risk never reading everything in the book, a risk I was unwilling to take. I could also have done without the meditations on each individual letter – Blount is supporting an argument he makes that the relation between a word (its sound, that is) and its meaning is not, as some scholars would have it, arbitrary. That’s an interesting debate, but not one Blount is going to solve in 300-word essays on each of the 26 letters of our alphabet.

At heart, though, Alphabet Juice is a vehicle for Blount’s ruminations not just on language but on culture and cultural literacy, on politics (he was apparently not a fan of the most recent President Bush), on music, on food, and so on. If you like his smart-folksy style, you’ll love the book.

P.S. Tender is the Thing.

Next up: Hilary Mantel’s Fludd, which I’m reading at the rate of roughly 15 pages a day because of all the writing.

Go Natinals!

So by now you’ve all seen the fact that the Washington franchise in the National League is saving money by only embroidering some letters on the fronts of their uniforms.

I just showed my wife the photo, and the first thing she said was, “That’s great – but who are the Chefs?”

It’s bad enough…

…to get your tongue stuck to a metal light pole.

It’s worse when the incident makes the news.

IBAF rankings.

The International Baseball Federation has released its first-ever baseball rankings, by country.

I can’t believe they put Thailand 26th – that’s an outrage – and there will be rioting in Lahore when word gets out that Pakistan ranked last.

Want to lay odds…

… on whether, the next time the Yanks come to Fenway, some Sox fan throws an umbilical cord at A-Rod?

The Onion article about me…

…okay, not really. But it could be.