BOSTON — Well, here we are again. The Red Sox versus the Tigers. The saga continues.
What will happen this time? Who knows? Many people are still scratching their heads at the outcome of last week’s showdown in the Motor City. After all, the Sox came into town like hot soup; they left like a wet noodle.
“What happened?” asked baseball pundits, who had been ready to hand over the AL East to Boston — until the Tigers beat them four of five. “Who are those guys in Detroit? How did they do that?”
I can answer. It’s simple. We are talking a difference in interpretation. Remember the song? You say po-tay-to, I say po- tah-to? You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to? You say home-run- o? I say bunt-o?
Detroit plays a different game than Boston. It is not as well known. It does not get as much attention.
In fact, it is sort of our winning secret. But as a service to journalists who do not wish to look stupid for a second weekend in a row, I offer the following glossary of terms, showing the way they define them in Boston, and the way we define them in Detroit.
There will be a quiz when you’re finished: RALLY
(Boston): An inning in which at least six runs are scored, and the starting pitcher is driven from the game shaking his head.
(Detroit): Walk, bunt, ground out, balk. 1-0
(Boston): The score after the first inning.
(Detroit): The score after the ninth inning. BATTING AVERAGE
(Boston): Something that must be maintained at a .300 level or above, lest the player risk scorn and rejection by his teammates.
(Detroit): .247. Unless you’re Alan Trammell. STREAK
(Boston): Winning 22 games at home.
(Detroit): Scoring four runs twice in a week. TWO MINUTES
(Boston): The time it takes to score five runs.
(Detroit): A Doyle Alexander interview. ONE MINUTE
(Boston): Three Roger Clemens strikeouts.
(Detroit): A Larry Herndon interview. STARTING PITCHER
(Boston): The man who begins the game on the pitcher’s mound.
(Detroit): Eight innings’ rest for the bullpen. LEADOFF HITTER
(Boston): A batter with a high average who gets on base a lot; for example, Wade Boggs, hitting .359.
(Detroit): Whoever wins the coin toss. CLEANUP HITTER
(Boston): A power hitter who drives in runs; for example, Mike Greenwell, a league leader in RBIs.
(Detroit): Whoever loses the coin toss. MANAGER
(Boston): The man you hire to win 19 of 20.
(Detroit): The man you hire to talk about his grandchildren. DOUBLE NEGATIVE
(Boston): Losing both games of a doubleheader.
(Detroit): Any sentence spoken by the manager. THE GREEN MONSTER
(Boston): A colloquial name for the large left-field wall in Fenway Park.
(Detroit): Jim Walewander’s apartment. DELTA FORCE
(Boston): The code name for a plot by Boggs and his mistress to take compromising photos of teammates for future use in blackmail situations.
(Detroit): What? NEWS MEDIA
(Boston): The ever-present group of reporters who are constantly badgering Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Jim Rice for interviews.
(Detroit): The men to which you say: “No, that’s Dwayne Murphy. D-W-A-Y-N-E . . . NATURAL STROKE
(Boston): The way Wade Boggs swings.
(Detroit): What you can die of waiting for the second game of a doubleheader to finish. YOUNG BUCKS
(Boston): The term for rising young stars such as Clemens, Greenwell and Todd Benzinger.
(Detroit): Anyone under 34. SACRIFICE FLY
(Boston): Something a hitter settles for when he can’t hit a double, triple or home run.
(Detroit): Cause for celebration. THE AL EAST TITLE
(Boston): Something people think can be won with a lot of media attention, explosive hitting and a mid-July winning streak.