Sunday Frivolities

Let’s work together folks.

In honor of the Latin American ballplayers in Major League Baseball, we look at some baseball terminology in Spanish. One of the aspects that we often miss about Latin American ballplayers is the language barrier. Sure, we know it, and it’s common sense. But we rarely really put it into perspective. After they’ve been in the country for a while, people just expect them to be able to speak English perfectly.

There are a couple problems with this. One, English is really, really hard. I took a Spanish phonetics course last year, and when we looked at what sounds make vowels, Spanish has five (one for each letter) and about 20 for English with no real rule system. Two, they don’t really teach them baseball in the academy. Read Sugarball, and you’ll learn all the problems associated with their “teaching” of the English language and the American culture. Three, if they can’t speak it very well, it’s hard to practice. They often stay with other Latin American players because they understand each other. Then, reporters are really the only ones they talk to in English (along with coaches), and reporters and the media have a reputation for dissecting speech. With that fear, they don’t want to speak English. You can blame Sosa for not speaking Spanish in that Congressional hearing, but I sure as hell don’t.

Anyway, I’ve always felt that we should go halfway. I’m a Spanish major, and I certainly realize how hard it is to speak another language. It’s my job to learn, and I still find it difficult. I can’t imagine how hard English is for non-native speakers. As part of a mission to help, I thought we could all learn some baseball terms in Spanish. I’ll give you some below. Next time you meet someone who primarily speaks Spanish, remember some of these as you two talk baseball.

ace – ase (ah-say)
away team – equipo visitante
barehand – fildear con la mano limpia
barrell of the bat – parte gruesa del bate
base-on-balls – base por bolas
Baseball Writers Association of America – idiotas
batting average – promedio de bateo
Big Red Machine – Gran Maquinaria Roja
Braves – Bravos
disabled list – lista de incapacitados
ERA – efectividad
error – error
fair ball – bola en territorio bueno
foul ball – bola en territorio malo
game – partido
hit – batazo
pitcher – lanzador
player – beisbolero
season – campaña
spitball – bola ensalivada
steroids – esteroides
strike – estraíc
umpire – árbitro
World Series – Serie Mundial; Clásico de Otoño

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