Ah, baseball. That wholesome, all-American pastime on par with hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet…
…And a whole lot of stuff.
Ask any major-league pitcher about his most recent performance, and he’s bound to use the term “stuff” to describe it.
Like it or not, stuff is the universal idiom in the MLB pitcher lexicon. It’s as if they have a contractual obligation to weave the term into every media interview.
These multi-million-dollar athletes, who devote nearly every waking moment to fine-tuning their technique, get away with explaining their performance with a breezy, “I just didn’t have great stuff today.”
Wish I, who earn a tiny fraction of their take, could get away with similar breeziness. But something tells me the following response just won’t fly:
“Gee, sorry (boss/client/CEO), but I missed the mark on that (article/plan/project) because I just didn’t have my best stuff yesterday.”
I think it irritates me most because baseball – like any sport – provides such an extremely personal and emotional experience for fans. When a pitcher struggles, I want him to own up to it, express some passion, have a more substantial explanation.
I’m not looking for a pitch-by-pitch diatribe, just something along the lines of: “You know, I was really disappointed that the velocity of my sinker was lacking, but my change-up was as good as it’s been all season. I know what I need to work on.”
Apparently, that’s too much to expect.
I have a similar disdain for the shenanigans of professional weathermen, whose absolute lack of accountability permits them to consistently bungle forecasts and escape scot-free. It makes me wonder why, if meteorology is indeed a science, it’s still such a crapshoot.
But I digress.
And apparently, the term is reserved exclusively for pitchers. I challenge you to find a batter, fielder, coach or umpire who uses “stuff” to describe his performance.
If I were a sportscaster, I wouldn’t allow major-league hurlers to get off so easy. I’d demand they explain what they really mean.
Don’t think I’d last long on that job.
So I’ll turn the tables and ask everyone else: How’s YOUR stuff?