Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's Nastier Than Nasty?

Several years ago, then-Mets catcher Mike Piazza acknowledged one of the great cliches in sports.

Piazza may have been useless at throwing out base-stealers, but Big Mike was no dummy: He was a media-savvy guy and a decent interview after games. (Full disclosure: I may or may not have started the rumor that Mike Piazza starred in the movie Teen Wolf under a different name.)

Speaking with a New York Magazine reporter, Piazza opined:

"I've been trying to invent a new cliché to replace stepping up," he says. "That's the most overused term in sports. I've got to invent a new one. I'll test out a few phrases and see what catches on. How cool would that be, if you could think up a term like step up and see all these guys using it in interviews? I need to start watching more of Don King's interviews. I heard him say one time, 'These are tribulations and infractications! These are hypocrisies and hypotheticals!' He's funny, man -- he's amazing. Maybe I can borrow something from him."

A decade later, here's another baseball cliche that needs to be retired: A "nasty" pitch.

I tuned into This Week in Baseball over the weekend for the first time in years. Notably, and perhaps of no surprise to anyone, there's really nothing about the current week in baseball in the show; ESPN and its myriad tentacles of course have covered all that ad nauseum. Instead, it focuses on longer-form insider topics, such as who's got the toughest pitch in the game.

That segment showed clips of several pitchers showing their signature pitches. Accompanying each pitch was the live announcing; out of maybe 20 clips, all but two had the word "nasty" in the call.

Ben Sheets' curve? Nasty!

Johan Santana's changeup? Nasty!

Tim Lincecum's entire repertoire? Nasty, nasty, nasty!

The two non-nasty descriptions, if you're scoring at home, were "devastating" and "filthy."

Nasty is so overused that it's taken, well, the nastiness out of it. We're here in New York, so we're particularly attuned to pitches being called nasty due to a certain bat-smashing closer taking the hill every couple days, though the Yankee games are so damn long that Mariano is almost taking the stage around the same time Jay and Dave are.

So let's put "nasty" to rest. Filthy, I'm fine with. But I'm open for suggestions. Any announcers around the country coming up with good substitutions for nasty? Anyone else like the sound of nastardly?


1 comment:

Alan said...

Hasn't "nasty" been largely replaced by "cheese" as used by Eck on NESN broadcasts? I particularly like the level of detail and understanding his "sneaky cheese" offers the baseball fan hungry for greater knowledge.