Tag: baseball

Gary Laney died without warning Friday, two days before Christmas. He was 47. The news was crushing. The shock hasn’t worn off, and I am flailing about in search of words.

His funeral is happening now in Baton Rouge. I wish he were here to talk about it with me. Gary’s presence here two years ago, the day before the funeral of our first editor in the daily newspaper business, was a gift to me from the cosmos. Now, he’s gone, and we are not having lunch together, not having beers, not telling Lake Charles stories, laughing and crying.

In a year of so much loss, Gary’s death is one of the hardest losses to bear.

We first met in the mid-1980s, when my journalism career was just getting started and he was a high school student with an interest in sports writing and newspaper work. He came up one day to the makeshift press box at Legion Field in Lake Charles where I was covering American Legion games, and on some level, he never left. Gary was like a friendly puppy, tagging along as I did my job. He was likable, smart, curious, full of questions, and eager to discuss sports, music, writing and many other subjects.

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Six years removed from reporting, writing, blogging and in other ways committing journalism about college baseball, I enjoy being reminded of how fun and exciting it can be, especially when a game ends on a play at home plate. In this case, more than a game ended — so did an impressive streak.

For the first time since 1995, Rice University failed to win either its conference’s regular-season championship or tournament championship. That includes parts of Rice’s time in the Southwest Conference, the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA.

The runner representing what would have been the tying run was thrown out at the plate in a final putout from center fielder to shortstop to first baseman to catcher, or as written in the scorebook, 8-6-3-2. The University of Southern Mississippi celebrated its Conference USA tournament championship after the game-ending play.

It should not surprise anyone who’s followed Rice baseball for more than a few games that the Owls took the risk of trying to score the tying run on the play. That’s how Wayne Graham has always done it — whether at practice or in the coaches box at third base, waving home the runner. “Make the defense make a play,” he’s said numerous times, knowing that in college baseball, solid defense is a luxury, not standard equipment for most teams. “Make them make the throws.”

He said that during the 2005 super regional at Tulane University in New Orleans after seeing the gamble fail, and he said it before and after that, after seeing it pay off. The play Sunday required three throws — the first two to cutoff men, and the third to the catcher — in a “double cut” executed to perfection by Southern Miss. Otherwise, Rice’s streak would have survived another year.

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shutterstock_200177687Photo by Eternalfeelings

• “So, Cruz will score …” (said 10 seconds after Cruz scores)

• “He’s 2 for 3 on the day.” (what is he under the day, or above the day, or next to it?)

• “They are now 26 and 17 on the year.” (same thing, location-wise)

• “Something something something something-wise.” (reminds me of a coach who once used “athletically wise” in an evaluation of another team, comparison-wise)

• “He’s on pace to …” (I’m with the late Leonard Koppett on this; there is no “on pace”)

• “We’re scoreless through five” is not grounds for termination of the announcer, of course, but I always want to point out that 0-0 is, in fact, a score. You: “What’s the score?” Me: “Oh, nothing-nothing.” There is a score, even when nobody has scored, and that score is 0-0.

(Scoreless somehow reminds me of Payless Shoe Source, which apparently is the convergence of a series of transactions without pay — as opposed to paying less, which I think is probably their point.)

Announcerspeak and coachspeak appear to flourish and spread without formal instruction. They are languages passed on, from broadcast booth to broadcast booth, from venue to venue, from generation to generation, simply through listening often enough to someone speaking them. I don’t think announcers are even aware that they are saying something “will” happen after it has already happened. I don’t think they consciously choose to say “on the day” after a statistic, or “on the year” after a won-lost record, especially when context renders those qualifiers unnecessary. He’s 2 for 3. Got it. They’re 24-16. Got it.

If context isn’t enough, “he’s 2 for 3 today” is shorter and less linguistically puzzling, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard an announcer say it. “He’s 2 for 3 on the day” is a construction I consider Pavlovian. They just can’t help themselves, word-wise. Turn on the microphone and it just comes tumbling out.

A lexicographer could probably shed some light on the origins of some of these, but that kind of thing is above my pay grade. Mostly, I shake my head, on the day, when I hear them.

Even in my most curmudgeonly of copyediting moods, I don’t think the phrasings above rise to the level of being word crimes. They are odd add-ons, quirks and curiosities, but they are mostly the kinds of things that are said when you put someone in front of a mic in a press box and they start to fill the silences.

* This list is subject to the occasional update as needed.