Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
For non-Miami Marlins fans, Tommy Hutton sounded too much like a homer. For the Marlins’ thin skinned administration, Hutton wasn’t homer enough. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
But if it makes Hutton feel any better, now that he’s been pinked by the Marlins, even Hall of Fame broadcasters have been fired for calling or reporting games and their atmospheres honestly. Hutton has only to look at Tim McCarver and, well before him, Red Barber. He’s joining some pretty elite company.
There are times—in cyberspace or otherwise—when stumbling upon something you missed when it first arrived can sting rather than charm. Especially if it’s a fine essay on baseball jargon, and you discover you’re just as guilty as everyone else of making mincemeat out of it.
The essay in question is Allen Barra’s, from The Atlantic, in June. He took a good, long look at what’s become of baseball’s language and was not amused. More saddened than infuriated, Barra decided, with apologies to Yogi Berra (whom Barra admires for his syntax as much as his baseball virtuosity), that he wished baseball people really hadn’t said half the things they’ve said since, oh, around 1980.