Take Me Out, Loser
April 10, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

[Fiction filter] A bunch of guys are sitting around a bar, watching their major league baseball team lose a game on TV. They're moaning and groaning about it. So...what are they saying?

Basically I don't have any idea how baseball fans talk in this situation. Got any ideas for me?
posted by BlahLaLa to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why am I a mets fan and not a yankees fan?
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:58 AM on April 10, 2012

My husband says they'd be bemoaning "what a piece of shit a specific player or coach is. Fuckin' FIRSTNAME LASTNAME fuckin' piece of shit I swear to god every time!"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:01 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Potentially unlimited help:

Go here, roll over any of the divisions in the top menu and choose a team. That will take you to that team's blog. Find a thread called "Gameday thread" or "first pitch thread" or somesuch.

This is the online equivalent of baseball fans, mostly men, sitting around watching their team (because most of them are sitting around watching their team). Sometimes it's a little vitriolic and over the top, but usually it isn't too far out of the range of what you might hear at a bar.
posted by brentajones at 12:03 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

They are being very vituperative about the owner, and how he's mismanaged the team. Go to latimes.com and read any of the comment section after stories about the McCourts.
posted by Danf at 12:03 PM on April 10, 2012





[I find the caps lock to be relevant to this.]
posted by fizzix at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Baseball Think Factory Game Chatters is another place you can go online to watch baseball fans talk during a game. (And read back for previous ones.) The crowd here runs to the more statistics-minded, so their discussion will be a little different from how other populations of fans might talk.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2012

Are these smart baseball fans or stupid drunken ones?

Red Sox fans? Yankees fans? Cubs fans?

Beginning of the season or playoffs?

Figure this stuff out -- it will matter.

Online fan forums are good, as mentioned above. Tim McCarver's book (while he can be kind of unbearable) is also useful for figuring out "smart talk" about the game.
posted by pantarei70 at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Common topics:
- whether a manager is leaving a pitcher/player in too long
- which player he's bringing in to replace someone,
- how the pitcher should be pitching to a particular batter (what pitches)
- how the fielders should be placed in the field (some hitters are more likely to hit long vs short distances, and farther to right or left field, and managers will adjust the placement of fielders accordingly)
- whether a manager orders a bunt or a stolen base in a certain situation
- when a play was executed well or poorly (eg a good catch, a good slide)
- a given player's performance this season or in recent games
- a given player's injuries
- a given player's off-field dramas (drug tests, having a sleazy agent or a big contract, having left their former team in an ignominious fashion)

Players will be described by conventional wisdom as:
- scrappy
- having hustle
- playing small ball
- being a stand up guy
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, whether the pitcher has good control during this game.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:13 PM on April 10, 2012

Many fans I know would choose to Say It With ThrowingTM
posted by mikepop at 12:13 PM on April 10, 2012

And the umpires making bad calls - ball/strike calls, safe/out on base calls.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:14 PM on April 10, 2012

(OWNER'S Name), what an embrassment to the team. (previous owner or star player who used to play for the team) is rolling in his grave...

Go to any local newspaper's sports section in the comments (the CLE-TOR opener, longest opening in history, probably could provide some gems )would be great for you and pretty authentic, except these guys are drinking at home.
posted by fizzix at 12:14 PM on April 10, 2012

[Coach] always leaves [pitcher] in too long!

ex: Why the fuck does Yost leave Wise Turnbow in there until his arm is limper than a noodle.
posted by drezdn at 12:14 PM on April 10, 2012

On the minuscule chance that your people would be Brewers fans. Very few Brewers fans complain about the current owner, as most remember the dark days before Antanasio bought the team.
posted by drezdn at 12:15 PM on April 10, 2012

I came here to suggest SBnation, as well. If you look at the game chat on the Twinkie Town site, you'll see plenty of moaning and groaning.

Some ideas, expand upon these to relate to your specific team and situation

- complain about whoever's pitching. He takes too long, he's not focusing on the game, he's shaking off the catcher, he's been to the buffet far too many times, etc.

- Who's the new guy on the field? Complain about whoever left. Works especially well if the old guy was traded away for a new guy that isn't really working out (**cough cough Hardy Capps cough cough**)

- Who's in a slump? It's their fault the team sucks.

- the umpires are ALWAYS fair game. The strike zone is too small, too inconsistent, too large. That was NOT an out, the runner clearly beat the ball to the plate. Okay, it was a tie...but the tie always goes to the runner.

- fielder miss catching a catchable ball? [former player] would have made that catch.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:16 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

$10 FOR A FUCKING BEER [at the game]....... PULL HIM ALREADY, DAMN IT (the fan, exhorting the manager to remove the pitcher for a new one).


WHAT A HAS-BEEN, WHAT A BUNCH OF HAS-BEENS (a player or players who are no longer in their prime years, and no longer have the same athleticism that they once had due to age and/or f their injuries)...

SEND HIM BACK TO THE TIGERS (or whatever the player's previous team was).

[this is more fun that I imagine]
posted by fizzix at 12:25 PM on April 10, 2012

fielder miss catching a catchable ball? [former player] would have made that catch.

My father, about many of the third basemen the Phillies have had since Mike Schmidt: "he's a good third baseman, but he's no Mike Schmidt."
posted by madcaptenor at 12:25 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Grumbling about someone's big contract; "he's making $x million a year but can't get a single" etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:26 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

It really depends on a few factors. Is it April, October or somewhere in between? Is the team on a winning streak and this is an unusual result, or have they sucked all year? Have they sucked for a couple of years?

Baseball teams lose all the time. Even good sides will lose 60-70 times a year. The timing and context of the loss will be important to the conversation. late in the year, if the team's in contention the conversation will be more animated, louder. There'll be urgency at every at bat. If the team's out of it by then, they'll be resigned to another crappy loss in a crappy season.

Similarly a lone loss in April or May in an otherwise hot start isn't a big deal, but a season that's already sliding out of view will before summer will see some serious griping about management.

If the team has sucked for a couple of years and shows no sign of getting better, then they're probably saying 'fucking Astros'.
posted by IanMorr at 12:29 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am madly in love with all of you. This is super, duper helpful.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:40 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

And remember, no one uses the actual full name of the player or coach. It is the nickname of the player or coach (at least in MN). Example: MN Twins coach Ron Gardenhire: "Gardy". Pitcher Francisco Liriano: "Franky".
posted by jillithd at 12:42 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's something Aaron Sorkin & Eli Attie wrote, although it takes place the next morning after the game:

Just throw strikes. I don't understand why that can't happen.
You have a three-run lead, just throw strikes. I mean, my God!



You want to see the wires?

I'll tell you something else. In a situation with a runner on first
who's a threat to score and a batter at the plate who's going
to be intentionally passed, why not pitch out four times?

Makes me nutsy.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:43 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Pitcher actually strikes out a player after being shelled for a while) "YEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!"
posted by Melismata at 12:45 PM on April 10, 2012

Ian Morr makes a great point too. If this isn't a throwaway scene or if you want to be super-accurate, the context of the season can swing the mood quite far in one direction or the other. It's always in a negative context, but whether that's directed at your team, their team, the umps, another non-playing division rival, your manager, your ownership, your players, your former players or humanity in general is affected by the overall tenor of the season, playoff chances, current streaks, et al.

The resigned disappointment of a Cubs fan watching his team lose toward the end of another ultimately meaningless season usually manifests itself quite differently from that of a fan watching his team be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after a questionable pinch-hitting decision from the manager or a bad baserunning decision by an already-marginal player. A loss in the last week of the season by a 100-win team who's clinched their playoff spot and played bench players for the final three innings is different from the third loss in a row to open the season. And so on.
posted by brentajones at 1:28 PM on April 10, 2012

I think it depends who your audience is. For a serious baseball fan, the way these characters talk will show a lot about who they are - there's the old school fan who doesn't like the way teams are built today (i.e. Moneyball), and the new school fan who thinks those people are nuts. This probably won't come off at all unless you're obsessive about baseball, but the way they relate to certain players (or certain types of players) could be very revealing of their character.

Bunting is one example where the stats show that it's almost always stupid to sacrifice bunt, but the sacrifice bunt is a particular skill that some players possess that might result in what looks like a helpful play to their team. An "old school" fan would be delighted to see some scrappy player (who usually sucks at most things baseball) lay down a perfect bunt to move a runner along. A stats-oriented fan would be downtrodden by that player even being on the team, let alone the manager (and general manager) allowing him to waste outs.

The split between new and old school fans is really about different ways of viewing the world: old school fans are, of course, more traditional; they like seeing baseball played a certain way; they trust their eyes. New school fans believe that numbers can describe patterns that might not be discernible by the naked eye; they'd prefer to believe experts than what they're seeing on the T.V.. Often, they'll be more satisfied by a manager choosing the right strategy (that happened to fail this time) than a manager choosing the wrong strategy (that happened to work). There is a little bit of religion vs. science, conservative vs. liberal, and left-brain vs. right-brain at play here, and knowing where your characters stand in that divide would make your writing not just "realistic" but also helpful for your characterization and plot development.
posted by one_bean at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2012

I don't see fantasy baseball talked about here, but if your characters are at all young, tech or stat-minded people, it's definitely a possibility. A lot of the time that I watch baseball with friends, it involves theoretical scenarios of our fantasy baseball teams like:
"I need my pitcher to strike out this batter, but for him to advance to first anyway, then steal two bases, and score on an error."

We also discuss hypothetical scenarios for us as to what we'd do as manager. The west wing conversation is a little bit like this. "So let's say we do manage to get X and Y on base, should we pinch-hit for Z? Or is other manager just going to bring in A and get him to ground out?"
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2012

If it's a really bad loss, it's entirely likely that they don't say a thing. But mostly staring -- into space, at their beer, at some unfixed point in the middle distance. The buddy who's too smart by ten-fold quotes Giamatti ("It breaks your heart. It's designed to break your heart.) just a little too soon for everyone else. The id of the group tosses a wadded up napkin at him and breathes out a single word: "Fuck."

Eventually there's some talk about whether the other team won the game or whether, in all actuality, your team lost it. The distinction between these two outcomes is fine-grained, of course, but desperately important. One's pride as a fan, and one's willingness to support the manager and players, hands in the balance.
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:19 PM on April 10, 2012

My impression is that a lot of this talk is rather rose-tinted nostalgic; lamenting that the team, or the game in general, has gone downhill since the days of a particular player / manager / famous group of players / old stadium / etc.
posted by Jabberwocky at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2012

Is this a one-time scene, or a recurring one? Also, you may want to avoid anything that might date your story (if the rest of your story won't). This would include recent history of teams (good: Rangers, bad: Astros) or players. Best to go with something more generic but true to life. There's also timeless cliches like "We just gotta get some momentum," and They're not using the entire field!"
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:28 PM on April 10, 2012

Here's a real life example for you. I'm a Rangers fan, and have been since the days of Pete Incaviglia. I was at a bar with several friends watching game 6 of the World Series last year.

Early on in the game, when the Cardinals did something good or the Rangers did something bad, we'd grumble, moan, & say something like "That's a bunch of bullshit, the runner was safe" or "C'mon ump, Stevie Wonder could have seen the guy was out."

Later on in the game, when the Rangers coughed up the lead in the 9th, 10th, & 11th innings, we were viscerally saddened, and by the end mostly too depressed to say anything other than "Fuck me" and stumble out to our cars.

Honestly? That loss burns badly enough that I don't know if I'll be able to watch any games at all this year, even if they go back to the World Series.

Moral of the story: if it's an agonizing loss in a very important game, your characters are going to feel it.
posted by AMSBoethius at 6:13 PM on April 10, 2012

A few starter collections of sports/baseball cliches, which you just gotta take one at a time: 1 2 3.

And remember, if no one thinks you can write that book, you just gotta BELIEVE!
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:33 AM on April 11, 2012

Seconding the idea of talking about a new guy, and the guy he's replacing. I'd say these comments tangent their way into other things: New shortstop makes an error, first guy in bar facepalms and says 'Oh my God,' second guy says 'And it's Game 3! We have 159 more games of this!' Third guy says 'Let's not forget the hitting. Hit .213 last year. That oughta replace (ex-shortstop) just awesome.' This would then spiral into a conversation about how good the ex-shortstop was, and whether he might have been the best shortstop the franchise ever had, which might then turn into the compiling of the all-time franchise team, if the current one were losing badly enough.
posted by troywestfield at 5:58 AM on April 11, 2012

I’m going to side with those who say you really need to know specifically who your characters are. If you don’t you may end up with the punk rock episode of CHiPS.
posted by bongo_x at 3:01 AM on April 12, 2012

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