Perhaps the sport of baseball needs to follow the example of a luxury retail brand, who just announced that its name needed a facelift. According to the November 24 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the company will do business under its new name beginning this month.
While changing the very name of baseball would be much too drastic, there are some stale phrases which seem to reinforce the sport as outdated or inaccurate. Take for instance its anachronistic nickname as America’s pastime, of which the very first syllable equates to something that has long gone by.
Another term, which has grown alarmingly in usage the past few seasons, is the disabled list. The adjective in that phrase clearly comes from an entire different generation, given its association with the present society.
Disabled has for the past few decades applied to serious physical and mental problems that are rarely ever thoroughly overcome, unlike its purpose in terms of baseball. An injured player spent an average of just thirteen and half days on the D.L. last year, a clear indication that these guys are not what the average American would label as disabled. Why not, like all of the other major sports leagues, call it the injured reserve list?
Another phrase has been much less mentioned than the disabled list, but must also have been psychologically more painful for some players. It is the concept inaccurately referred to as the Mendoza Line, an imaginary designation for a batting average o .200.
The term for some reason has been inappropriately named for former player Mario Mendoza, whose batting average was actually fifteen points higher than .200. For the entire month of September fans had to listen to announcers debating whether Toronto All-Star outfielder Jose Bautista and Texas infielder Roughned Odor would finish above the Mendoza Line. (Bautista ended the season with a .203 batting average, Odor at .204).
Those averages are nearly identical to those of the two players that resulted in the original mark being called the Mason-Dixon Line, a catchier and more accurate phrase. Leo Dixon, who played from 1925-1929, had a career average of .206. Jim Mason fared even worse, finishing with a lifetime .203 mark after a career that lasted from 1971-1979. The duo batted a combined .204, or eleven points lower than Mario Mendoza.
Most people are already familiar with the geographical reference in the term, a demarcation unique to the United States of America. This fact, combined with the accuracy of the statistics, is just one more reason for broadcasters and other representatives to scrap the term Mendoza Line.
And while they are at it, they could bury one other annoying inaccuracy. When referring to the pitcher’s mound, call it by its original nickname of the Bump. Considering the paltry height of the thing, it is much closer to being a bump rather than a hill.