Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Rook, Just Don't 'Big League' It

Here's a bit of advice for the September call-ups making their first appearance in The Big Show this week: don't be big leaguin' it now that you've made the big leagues.

It's a weird irony: You've made the big leagues, but don't by any means act like it.

What exactly is big leaguin' it? In the unpublished book of unwritten baseball rules, it means acting like a hotshot--every bit the no-no for rookies. (Speaking of the unwritten rules of baseball, the Marlins were not pleased that Washington's Nyjer Morgan stole two bases with his team down by 11. Trying to come back for a win? Here's a fastball in the back, pal. If you click on the link, count how many homerisms you hear from the FS Florida announcers.)

"Big leaguin'" does not appear in Wikipedia's Glossary of Baseball; nor do many links pop up in Google. Here's one from

Typically done when a person uses slightly relevant knowledge to demonstrate their superiority over someone. Usually intended to belittle a person and make them feel insignificant or "show them up"

Google also reveals the country singer Toby Keith updating the classic "Mockingbird" in his own inimitable way:

Yeah right, quit big leaguin' me, I said now, everybody have you heard...

This seems like one of the terms that one hears in MLB clubhouses, but hasn't made its way into the media or the modern vernacular. It was in the clubhouse that former Mets farm star Lastings Milledge, currently toiling on the Pirates, was charged with big leaguin' it by the Mets vets--or Billy Wagner, at least--after being brought up at 21 in 2006.

David Lennon listed Milledge's transgressions in a 2008 story in Newsday.

Milledge notoriously showed up only an hour before the game's first pitch during a series in Philadelphia, drawing harsh criticism from Wright at the time. Milledge also celebrated a bit too much when he high-fived fans along the rightfield line after a tying home run at Shea Stadium.

Such behavior may have annoyed the Mets, but Billy Wagner said that none of the players held a grudge against him. It was Wagner who hung a sign in Milledge's locker during a series in DC that read, "Know your place, Rook!" And he insists that was nothing more than the type of rookie hazing that everyone endures.

Here's a weird Milledge-related trade schematic for ya: Apparently tired of his big leaguin' ways and lack of big-leaguin' hitting, the Mets shipped Milledge to Washington for Ryan Church, who was later traded for Jeff Francoeur, who was just this week traded for some guy named Arias and a bag of balls from the Rangers.

In 2008, Milledge told he was happy to be out of Gotham:

"I can't go through anything worse than I went through in New York. It only gets better from here," Milledge said. "A lot of veterans didn't like the way I play the game. They thought I didn't respect it."

Milledge is now hitting a middling .268 with the Pirates. A more mature 25, he is free to haze the new arrivals to the Pirates clubhouse who he thinks are failing to respect the game.
[image: SI]

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