Andy Kirkaldy: Pro sports offer alphabet soup
FYI, this column is about acronyms. I hope that’s not TMI up front; sometimes in these pieces you’re supposed to keep the larger point on the QT for a while … Oops, showing my age, on the DL.
Oops again. That’s probably confusing in a sports column — the letters DL don’t mean “down low” to baseball fans, but “disabled list.”
Of course, the NFL (the National Football League, or in many cases the No Fun League when it makes fans wait for five minutes for replays or shows commercials after touchbacks) doesn’t have a DL.
The NFL instead uses a reserve list, which doesn’t have an acronym, AFAIK (As Far As I Know.) But it does have a PUP (Physically Unable to Play) List for players who are “out with a knee,” not just simply dogging it.
The NFL, like most sports leagues, makes use of many often inscrutable acronyms. These are all ones, as are all the ones cited in this column, that I already know and recognize (Yes, it’s true, I need to get out more):
• YAC — “Yards After Catch.” Nothing to do with gossip.
• QBR — “Quarterback Rating.” Unrelated to the cheap beer that I used to drink in the wide-mouth cans.
• FGM — “Field Goals Made.” Even if it sounds like what the Brits call “a lad mag.”
• YPA — “Yards per Passing Attempt.” Either that or a back-to-work program introduced by FDR.
But MLB (Major League Baseball) is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to churning out acronyms. Truly, only fantasy baseball geeks and SABR (Society for the Advancement of Baseball Research) members could come up with TINSTAAPP.
Seriously, TINSTAAPP is real, and it’s not a treatment for ceilings in trendy urban eateries or a rash. As baseball savant Casey Stengel used to say, you can Google it (I paraphrase): “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.”
More mainstream MLB acronyms include:
• BABIP — “Batting Average on Balls In Play.” Measures how lucky or unlucky hitters are, not a new Streisand nickname.
• OPS — Shorthand for a merger of two other acronyms: “On-base Percentage (OBP) Plus Slugging Percentage (SP).” Quick way to evaluate a hitter’s overall ability. Nothing to do with OPP, although some baseball players as well as our president-elect are known for seeking the latter.
• LOOGY — “Lefty One-Out Guy.” Refers to a lefthanded pitching reliever who specializes in coming in to face lefthanded hitters because he is particularly effective in getting them out. Righthanded hitters often hammer LOOGIES like roofing nails, but LOOGIES can carve out long careers — Jesse Orosco, the ultimate LOOGY, pitched for 11 teams in a 23-year career and retired at the age of 46. Supply your own LOOGY joke.
• WHIP — “Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched.” Measures baserunners allowed, an important measure of a pitchers’ effectiveness and beloved by us fantasy baseball nerds as a key scoring category that some owners overlook. Under 1.30 is good, under 1.20 is great. Orosco’s career WHIP was around 1.26, which explains a lot. Devo wrote this acronym’s theme song.
• FIP — “Fielding Independent Pitching.” Attempts to evaluate what a pitcher’s ERA (Earned-Run Average, but if you made it this far you knew that) would be with average defensive players behind him, thus more accurately evaluating his true ability.
• WAR — “Wins Above Replacement.” Measures how many wins a player is worth compared to a theoretical replacement-level substitute. In a real-life example, the Yankees lost star second-baseman Robinson Cano in free agency after 2013, and Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew shared the job in 2014. Critics of the WAR stat have been known to say, “Huh! What is it good for?”
Other sports and professions have their moments. The latest in the NBA is PER, “Personal Efficiency Rating,” for example. My wife works with PBGRS, “Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements,” and education as a whole is a target-rich environment for acronyms.
And journalism could incorporate this one:
• PEBKAC — “Problem exists between keyboard and chair.” Refers specifically to writers seeking inspiration for columns.