Friday, August 30, 2013

Dempster's Purpose Pitch Beyond 'Bush'

How many things could "bootleg" possibly mean?

According to, it is primarily, to make, sell or transport liquor illegally--the phrase coming from a bottle of hootch hidden in a lower pant leg.

It is, secondly, doing the same with compact discs or tapes. (Hey, all those people on the train with the white buds in their ears? They're not listening to CDs or tapes!)

It is, thirdly, essentially doing the same with satellite television.

Finally, it is a sports term:

To fake a hand-off, conceal the ball on the hip, and roll out in order to pass or especially to rush around the end.

Yet bootleg is popping up in baseball too--and as an adjective, no less.

If the Yankees somehow make it into October this year, the pundits will pin it on Ryan Dempster plunking Alex Rodriguez August 18. (Coincidentally, Dempster returns to the hill tonight following his suspension for the incident.)

According to

CC Sabathia referred to Dempster’s behavior as “bootleg.”

Sabathia has used bootleg as a synonym for "bush"--short for, of course, bush league.

I don't see a single usage of it in this manner on Google, but I am checking in with the language of baseball expert, Paul Dickson, author of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, to see if he has.


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