Friday night, after the third, I drive to pick up a cake for a niece's birthday--and, not insignificantly, to treat myself to the dulcet tones of Miller and Phillips in the car.
Run in, grab the cake, run back. Miss, say, five minutes of the game. Game on the radio, but no score announced. Call Astro-Girl. Astro-Girl, half-following the game, says, "Still zero-zero. And, oh, the announcer just said the Twins pitcher has a perfect game."
"A perfect game."
"Can't be," I says. "Matsui walked the last inning."
"I don't know," she says. "That's just what he said. 'Six up, six down.'"
"He said that."
Five seconds of Is it me or has the world gone crazy? later: "Wait, what inning is it?"
Pause. "Oh, the fourth. Wait, that doesn't make sense."
So consider: Astro-Girl, bless her heart, attended her first baseball game in her thirties. I was there at the time. Let me go out on a limb here and wildly guess that Skip Caray--grandson of announcer Harry Caray, son of announcer Chip Caray--first got out to Wrigley or Fulton County a shade younger than 30. And yet my wife understands that, dating back to before Mel Allen and Red Barber were on the scene, "X up, X down" in baseball terminology applies only to a pitcher's performance since the start of the game. If a pitcher has an impressive run in the middle of the game, it is correct to state that he has retired "X batters in a row," "or "X of the previous Y batters," or else say,"No batters have reached first since the Z inning." Whichever applies.
Substituting "six up, six down" for "six batters retired in a row" is like describing a mighty impressive two-run homer as a "grand slam."
And my wife, supine on the sofa, allowing the Yankees to compete with James Patterson, knows all this, without the two of us ever having discussed it. And Skip Caray, after a lifetime versed in baseball and baseball broadcasting, does not.
And if not for the dearth of Yankee baseball looming before me the next few days, I still wouldn't point it out, but it's always nice to see that Phil Mushnick agrees with me.
And I wish I knew how to let my thing link again.