Sarris: Learning the language of the clubhouse

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Hardball Times on March 13, 2014:


Darwin Barney was yelling at me. All eyes in the clubhouse were now fixed on me, wondering who let the nerd in. Just a few weeks before, I’d been in a similar situation and had felt terrible and small. This time, though, I was prepared.

“Hey man, I was just telling you you had trade value,” I said back to him with an exaggerated shrug, loud enough so he could hear. He was laughing. This was fine.

Minutes earlier, I had been waiting for Anthony Rizzo to talk. With veteran players, the fact that nobody recognized me was sometimes a bonus. A.J. Burnett gave me a great interview last year, supposedly because he thought I was a national guy, said one of the regular Pirates beat writers. But Anthony Rizzo didn’t recognize me and I’d bothered him before I saw his earphones in. Whoops. He wasn’t going to take them off for me, so there I was thumbing through on my phone, looking for someone interesting, someone with an interesting stat under the name, at least until Jeff Samardzija was ready was ready to talk again.

Darwin Barney was bouncing around the clubhouse in front of me, but I wasn’t sure I had an angle. It was close to the trade deadline, and like many other Cubs, he was speculating on possible trades. Involving himself. But he couldn’t see any trade value in his skill set.

“Hey,” I offered, “by some defensive metrics you’re the best defensive second baseman in the league.” Barney smiled at me, maybe incredulously. The Cubs beat writer next to me was sharp: “Best in the league the league or in the National League?,” he asked. I had to admit Dustin Pedroia had a better UZR. I tried not to say the word UZR, because I’d learned, the hard way. After a quick conversation about which contending teams might want a defensive second baseman (“Marco Scutaro is a very fine player,” Barney said with a glint in his eye), Barney was bounding across the room to his locker and my fate was sealed.

The episode was light-hearted, and the result was a few laughs and maybe a confused stare or two. Hopefully that was because I’d learned some important truths about language in the clubhouse over the preceding months.

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Originally published: March 13, 2014. Last Updated: March 13, 2014.