Pinch-Hit Grand Slam

bobbleheadEvery once in a while, circumstances come together (occur, happen at the same time) in a sporting game that provide drama, excitement, and even a bit of poetry.  Last night was such a night here in Los Angeles, when my beloved (an old or poetic way of saying “much loved”) Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and the city of Los Angeles witnessed a special moment.

In baseball, the object (goal, aim) is for the batter (the person holding a long stick called a bat) to hit a ball thrown by a member of the other team called the pitcher.  After hitting the ball successfully, the batter (now called a runner since he begins to run) must then run 90 feet to a small white area called 1st base.  He can continue running to 2nd and 3rd base and all the way back to where he started, to home plate (home “base”) to score a point (in baseball, a run), as long as he is not stopped by the other team (I’m simplifying the rules here, of course).  If he hits the ball outside of the playing field in front of him – such as to the seats where the fans are sitting, he and all the other runners on base (standing on either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base) get to score a run by touching home plate.  This is called a home run.  If, however, there are already three men on base, then this home run is given a special name, a grand slam (to slam something is to hit it very hard).

The game last night against the Cincinnati Reds was tied 2-2.  (Cincinnati is a city in Ohio, in the eastern part of the US.) It was in the middle of the game, the Dodgers were batting, and the bases were loaded (there was a man on all three bases).  The best player for the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, wasn’t playing in the game because he had hurt his hand in Tuesday night’s game.  But since he is the best hitter on the team, the manager (the main coach) asked him to enter the game and try to hit.  Ramirez had had 20 grand slams in his 17 year career (time playing baseball), but was considered a very poor pinch hitter.  (A pinch hitter is a player who enters in the middle of the game to take the place of another hitter.)  He had never hit a pinch-hit home run in his life.

It was a special night for Ramirez another reason.  It was Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night, a special game where all of the fans received a toy doll called a bobblehead of Ramirez (see photo).   Every year, professional baseball teams create these special dolls or figures for the most popular players.

Ramirez walks up to the plate (home plate).  The crowd (the fans, people watching the game) goes wild.  The stadium (where the game is played) is sold out (no seats are remaining or unfilled.)  Everyone is on their feet (standing), cheering and yelling.  The pitcher throws his first pitch (ball) to Ramirez.  Ramirez swings (moves the bat quickly) and hits the ball.  It goes high into the air, deep into the night sky.  Going.  Going.  Gone.  A grand slam.

You could hear the Dodger fans yelling all the way back in Cincinnati, it was so loud.

And where did Ramirez hit his grand slam ball?  Well, there’s a special section out near the place where Ramirez stands when the Dodgers play defense (when they pitch against the other team) in the stands (seats in a stadium) called “Mannywood.”  Manny is so popular that they named a special part of the baseball stadium Mannywood (a play on the word “Hollywood”).  Of course, the ball was hit right into Mannywood.

You can’t write a Hollywood movie with an ending better than that.

Yes, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of man walking on the moon this week.  Yes, the world just experienced the longest solar eclipse (when the moon blocks out the sun) in the 21st century.  But for a brief moment last night, the most important event here in LA was when a man named Manny hit a ball to a placed called Mannywood.


PS  You can learn more about America’s most popular sport in English Cafe #50.

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25 Responses to Pinch-Hit Grand Slam

  1. Ming Tang says:

    How amazing!Were you on the scence?

  2. tetsuji says:

    manny is manny!
    good job?

    i love baseball!!!

  3. emiliano says:

    Reading your story I would like to be there, despite I don´t understand anything about the play and despite I tried to listening the English Cafe 50
    several times.
    Yes, I would like to enjoy it like you Jeff, but my heart is not very strong and it´s sure I would have a heart attack if I watch a sport or a play like
    this one.
    If I ever should be in your country I´ll try to see a baseball play that´s for sure, and previously I have to know the rules and everything about the
    match, may be I´ll feel that emotions you transmit us so well.
    Congratulations, sincerely I envy you about these feelings.

  4. Peter says:

    Hi pals,

    What’s shaking?

    Good stuff Jeff

    I have always wanted to know. The rules governing a baseball game.You know, too lazy to check by myself. I have seen baseball games here in Toronto once or twice, but I couldn’t make head nor tail of it ,totally cloudless.Thanks for the run-through.Could you give us a run-through about Hokey rules as well.

  5. ivan says:

    I think that´s nigth was so wonderfull for all dogers fans, I´m baseball fan and Manny is my favorite baseball player and he´s Dominican like me.

    I love this game

  6. rodrigo arellano says:

    Congratu;ations for Dodgers fans, I don’t share it, I m a Red’s fan, but of course as baseball fan I enjoy all baseball games, special the good ones


  7. Loreto says:

    ¡Congratulations Jeff!

    It’s obvious, reading your article that you live with a lot of emotion this baseball game. I can understand you very well. Being a fan, means enjoying “whaterver you love” with passion at all times.
    I also have the same feelings but not with baseball, I’m sorry, but with basketball.
    The night of 14th of June, also here in LA, when Laker’s won the NBA championship, I felt that (¡Go Gasol!)

  8. elcomandant says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I read your story carefully, and I think that this moment had to be very exciting. I can imagine you yelling when Manny hit the ball, in spite of the fact that I don’t know the rules this game, because in Spain it don’t play this sport.

    In reallity I don’t like much the sports in general. However sometimes I had felt something seemed what you told us in your story.
    If you and the rest of bloggers allow me, I’ll put three exemples.

    I felt a very strong emotion when a big Spanish cyclist in addition to be a very good person, called Indurain, won five times consecutive “The Tour de France” in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995.
    Besides, among many other championships, he won also “La vuelta ciclista a España” in 1992 (this year he won double prize).

    Most of people must know the best tennis player in the world nowadays (with Roger Federer’s permission), the Balear, Rafa Nadal. I enjoyed very much seeing four exiting final matches where Rafa won consecutively in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I enjoyed even more, because French people didn’t want Rafa Nadal won, just because he is Spaniard. In fact they always have a bad behavior with him.

    But, the most exciting match I have lived in my life so far was at December, 26th 1983. The Spanish Football Selection had to win a match against Malta Selection, but had to be for eleven goals of difference. To people who know a little the football game, will know that this is practically impossible. The final score was Spain 12 – Malta 1. I think this match I saw by TV, could be even more exciting than baseball match you lived, don’t you think?.
    Anyway, if somebody want enjoy with those 12 goals Spain scored 26 years ago, you can see it in a short youtube video of 3 minutes and 29 seconds clicking this link ( I recommend it you. This went down in history.


  9. Yuriy says:

    I don’t want to spend my life (or my time) watching sports. Better at English language with eslpod :)…

  10. emiliano says:

    More or less about sports I think and feel like elcomandant, and I have seen all Indurain´s tours, Nadal´s Roland Garros and last year Wimbledom, also the Davis Coup several times.
    My feelings goes to individual sports, is natural being as I am, but if we talk about teams I prefer always basketball as the best.
    Now I remember the Olimpic final USA – Spain……that I was seing and hoping a miracle that I didn´t could see, spaniards defeating the americans team nearly imposible despite we had Gasol, and others great players.

    Tomorrow another spaniard will be in Paris as the winner of the Tour, Alberto Contador, and beside he is born in Madrid……yes I would be happy of seing him in Paris again. He has won his second Tour, and what is even more amazing:
    For the last four years a spaniard has won The Tour and our flag is again in The Champs Elyses…….
    Alberto Contador has won despite his equip “Astana” wanted that Lance Amstrong wins again the Tour…….but, they haven´t the agreement of this big sportman.
    Bravo Alberto, you are a champion and he has done fair player winning what he may win, another Tour.

  11. Jorge Ramírez says:

    Thanks Jeff for writing such an interesting article.

    I´m a big fan of baseball, at the end of this comment you´ll realize why.

    This article couldn´t have been better, but I still think that you forgot to mention to things.

    1. He (Manny) is now two grand slam away (21) for the all-time record of MLB which belongs to Lou Gehrig (23).

    2.And the last but not least you should have mentioned his nationality which is the same as the person who´s writting you.

    Jorge Ramírez

    From ´´ República Dominicana´´

  12. emiliano says:

    Usually I don´t see any sport play on the tv., but as I said before there are some sports that we usually see; The Tour (from more than 20 years I think), El Giro de Italia, and La Vuelta a España, may be because we can see the land, the country, the cities of the three countries.
    Watching The Tour, you may see France, and it is so beautiful that is a pleasure to travel with the ciclists through that marvellous lands. Also with The Giro you may see Italy, incredible, and of course Spain if you watch La Vuelta.
    The best to me is The Tour, as The France is really a country to see. There are so many castles, old cities, incredible mountains, and the people who make the tv. transmitions are high quality cameras and you may see the cities from the air and with detail.
    France is really an incredible beautiful country and the people are very concerned with the care of their monuments, lands and cities. I like France very very much indeed.
    If you add that a lot of spaniards have won the best ciclist´t caree for so many years that is really nice to Cuca and me to watch The Tour. We have to say that every Tour that was won by Lance Amstron was also incredible. This man is like out of earth. Very very great, even more after he won the war against his cancer.
    We watch also tenis, Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledom, from many may years, and the Olimpic Games too.
    My heart isn´t strong to see to much basketball, so I have seen some matches from time to time.
    That´s my sport story. Very few and poor as you may see. Sorry.

  13. Peter says:

    My Dear Prof,

    Seems like your latest posting has been a tad contentious. Bet ,you did not see it coming. I don’t know the reason ,but sport talk always stirs up emotion.Some people get offended ,and some people get defensive. Barely, see some impartiality in between.Luckily, you haven’t posted something about soccer otherwise you would have quite few people on your tail( joking).As you well know ,soccer is the world most popular and controversial sport.

    Good job ,though. You broke down the main rules. You know what,to enjoy a game ,it is pivotal to know the rule of engagement.


  14. Peter says:

    Jeff,I am With you my friend,

    Dodgers rules all

  15. Peter says:

    Jeff ,

    do you know,at the end of the day, who really enjoyed the ball game most ;all the pizza houses across the city.LOL

  16. elcomandant says:

    Hi Emiliano.

    Firstly, I want congratulate you, and myself, too, because it is sure that the Alberto Contador, born in Madrid, will achieve in Paris the yellow maillot for twice in “The Tour of France”. I’m glad very much for that.

    I don’t believe you when you say that you has a poor sport story, because you tell us that you see, basketball, cycling, tennis, olimpic games. I think that is posible that there will be some sports more that you see.

    Is really strange that you coming from Madrid don’t mention football. In addition, existing “Real Madrid” what is the best football team in the world. At least for me. Don’t you think?. Anyway, I have to tell you that I don’t spend any time watching sports.

    Take care.

  17. emiliano says:

    Thank you elcomandant, and we (Cuca and me) joint to you in the celebration, yes, what Alberto Contador has done is enormous because he was
    alone. I think he doesn´t have the support of his team and being as clear and sincere a person in his situation can be, he has told everything without
    saing anything against nobody.
    He looks happy, very happy, twice happy as he said because hi has won “The Tour of France” in and outside the hotel…..running and inside.

    What about the Tour´s organization playing onother national athem meanwhile the flag of Spain and Contador was on the podium?.
    I can´t belive what my ears were listening to……the national athem wasn´t the Spain´s, it was so odd, and Alberto has to ask about the matter.

    Is so bad to them that they don´t have won The Tour from so many years? more than 20 years?
    Spain five, with Indurain, USA six with Lance Amstrom, and finally Spain the last four?
    Is also the same reasons as people from Roland Garros clapped when Rafael Nadal had a bad point, the last match?…they hate him for winning four?
    Too many spaniards winning The Tour and Roland Garros, I think…….and very few french on the podium.

    But I like and love France and all her people despite all this unfair manners.

  18. emiliano says:

    Y van cuatro

    * La organización puso un himno distinto al español cuando Contador subió al podio
    * Contador, Sastre y Pereiro marcan una época única del ciclismo español en el Tour

    This new is from one of the firs newspaper of Spain, the firs page of course, and just a lot of people´s opinion is “and odd mistake” very odd indeed
    for the first time in The Tour´s history.

    elcomandant I know Real Madrid is one of the best football team and people round over the world love it, but may be my heart can´t support so
    much emotions as football matches, so usually I see very few of them…..too much emotion for me.
    But of course, I am Real Madrid fan always, and Spain´s Europe Champion for ever.

  19. Akira says:

    Hi, Jeff.

    I love baseball, too.
    It was so exciting, I think.

    Gland slam is one of the most bright things in a baseball game, isn’t it?

    By the way, I have a question.
    On paragraph 3 line2, you said ‘there was a man on all three bases…’ However, there are multiple person on bases. So why doesn’t it become “there is men…” or ‘There were men…”?

    Sorry for entry-level question.

    Could anyone please answer this question?
    Thank you.

  20. Bakhtair says:

    New and existing vocabulary, have a good time to all my online friends within them both calibre podcasters,and designer of this website, one day we will play baseball together, i contemplating this issue to much and place do not be inertia, when i call you have to answer,

  21. tania says:

    Hi ! Thank you for the explanation of the word “hurricane ” . I thought it is a name like Katrina , a big confusion in my mind . Anyway , when I think at the wind I remember a nice poem with the leitmotif “the winds , the waves ” .
    It doesn’t sound like in my language , still … I tell you it . It is not my translation .

    Of the masts by thounds leaving
    Shores which many an ocean laves ,
    O , how many will be shattered
    By the winds and by the waves .

    All the best for you all ,


  22. Peter says:

    Jeff ,

    I found it very strange,yet interesting. Seems like you have a significant number of students throughout the glob ,but nobody in US. I live close by my friend , And I am positive,like here in Canada, there are lots of Allophone ( People with native languages other than English and French) reside in US.

    I am telling you man even native-speakers can pick up a lot from EslPod. I Know ,It is nominally meant for ESL( English as a second languge) and EFL(Englisg as a foreign language) studends ,but The content is really meant for a much much wider audience.

  23. Tania says:

    Hi ! The carrot and the stick or the civil disobedience ( resistance to civil government ) ? I found out Henry David Thoreau on Google. It seems that some of our friends read his essay as they were very categorical : not carrot , not stick .
    ” Your country needs robots . The government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice … There will never be a really free until the State comes to recognize the individual as an independent power ” H.D. Thoreau said . Still , to choose the jail …
    I know few things ( especially from the American movies ) about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. an idol in America promoting the theory of nonviolent resistance , ” refusing to cooperate with an evil system ” .
    ” That noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation ” , he said .
    Who knows …

    All the best for you all ,


  24. Peter says:

    Congrate to Jeff and Lucy, my dear mentors whose endeavour came as a rude awakening to me in respect to my delusion about English Language. I was totally delusional Until I came across the comprehensive yet to-the-point podcast of yours.You hit English Cafe 200,and you are about to celebrate the forth anniversary. you guys are on fire.

    Keep up the good job.



  25. Bruce Lee says:

    Think what happened during the World Base ball league in LA & San Francisco in lasy year!

    We’re so surprised to see that Asian coutries like Korea & Japan won the championship,
    even that baseball was originated from America.

    Baseball is sometimes like our life reflecting the peak & slack.
    The loser is able to become a winner when it’s the 9th innings.

    So we have to be more humble and thank all around us.

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