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This Wikimedia Commons button is moving forward

I dislike it when self-proclaimed guardians of language become curmudgeonly and start going on about how people today should stop talking the way they do. I especially dislike it when the curmudgeon is me. Here I go.

I think people should stop pronounced ‘or’ as if it’s a long ‘o’. I can tell you when I first noticed this. It’s in a Toyota commercial now on TV. Remember, Toyota’s slogan is “Moving Forward” (Jon Stewart pointed out the irony of this slogan for cars accused of sudden acceleration). But the guy on TV says something much more like “Moving Foe-ward.”

Having become attuned to this, of course I hear it everywhere. My least favorite baseball announcer, who is paired with my most favorite baseball announcer most days, will say something like “fast ball on the outside coe-ner.” It’s part of his whole Mississippi good ol’ boy persona, and even he doesn’t do it all the time.

Please stop, everyone. Thank you.

This has been a curmudgeonly rant. We now resume our regular programming.

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Former Red Adam Dunn in strikeout mode against John Smoltz (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about living in the Cincinnati area for the past 12 years is becoming a fan of baseball, especially the always-promising-but-rarely-delivering Reds. I’ve never gotten into the standard mania for statistics that true aficions have, but I have to say that I’m intrigued by some of the discoveries of the sabermetricians in recent years. To wit:

John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer had a column this week about the bad hitting luck of right fielder Jay Bruce. He has an amazing throwing arm, and at times has shown great promise at the plate. But what sank him last year was his BABIP — last in the National League at .221 (the average in baseball is .298).

What is BABIP, you say (or not)? It’s Batting Average for Balls in Play (struck balls that are between the lines and in the ball park, i.e. not fouls or home runs). You can have a lousy batting average overall, but if more than about 20% of the ones you do put in play give you a hit, you’re better than poor Jay Bruce. You’ve heard of hittin’ ’em where they ain’t — Bruce apparently hits ’em where they is.

I like discoveries like this because they’re counterintuitive (my skeptical side) and yet explanatory (my wanting to believe side). So I’m waiting with heart pounding for Bruce’s average to get stronger (ba-bip . . . ba-BIP . . . BABIP!)

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