It was the spring of 2001 and I was in the midst of a graduate course on the history of post-reformation Christianity. As someone who, at that point, was planning to finish my MA degree and then attempt to enroll in a prestigious PhD program, I was very serious about my work. My writing had to be very good (I knew, by then, that perfection was unattainable) and my professor, on whom I was counting for a stellar letter of recommendation, needed to know my name and be able to envision me as his protege, thereby ensuring he would do everything he possibly could to help me succeed.
I don’t remember what subject I had chosen for my 20 page research paper (probably something on Quakers), but I do remember feeling very good about my work. No matter what one is doing, when it is done really well the feelings of satisfaction cascade out in large ripples, as though a giant rock has dropped into the center of a pristine lake and every square inch of the water is reverberating in response.
I was pleased with my paper, and my entire being radiated that pleasure.
A few weeks later my paper was returned, and I had indeed scored well enough on it to continue to pursue my doctoral dream. But one comment on the paper haunts me to this day.
At one crucial point in my argument, I had wanted to emphasize a point by illustrating that not only was a source I had consulted interpreting something incorrectly (in my opinion), it was actually rewriting history in order to support a point that was, to say it plainly, absurd.
And so, at just the right moment, and in a nod to my growing academic prowess (or so I thought), I used the adverb “nay” in the sentence where I was making my larger and rather integral point.
Except I spelled it, “neigh.” Which is what a horse says.
Because it is also a word, the spellchecker tool did not catch it. And I am sure I had one or two other people proofread my paper, and they also didn’t catch it.
And so, on my paper into which I had poured my heart, soul, and brain, there was a comment that simply said, “Neigh is what a horse says. I don’t think you mean to use this word. Maybe nay?” And even though I got an A on the paper, I cannot shake that one tiny mistake. For all I know it set me on a course towards my current profession, nay, my entire existence in life…which, subsequently, I love.
Words are truly fascinating, and this is just one example of how two similar words can sound the same yet be so fundamentally different in meaning. And even those of us with the best intentions, and decent vocabularies, can make mistakes in using those words.
What two words, similar in spelling or meaning, might best describe your team’s day yesterday?
EFL Standings for 2020
|Flint Hill Tornadoes||24||21||.534||1.3||246.6||235.2|
|Old Detroit Wolverines||18||27||.393||7.6||210.8||262.2|
Kaline: L, 3-7 (30PA; 7.3IP)
|AVG: 0.214||OBP: 0.267||SLG: 0.321||OPS: 0.588|
|ERA: 8.63||WHIP: 2.055|
The Drive, out of the kindness of their heart, are allowing other teams to believe there might be a chance of winning the league. Their pitchers gave up 7 runs in 7 innings, and their hitters did relatively little, allowing the Dragons and Tornadoes to sneak back into contention. The words for the Drive this morning are earn and urn. It is easy to look at all of the earned runs their pitchers gave up yesterday (especially in light of their overall team ERA this month of 3.85) and think this is the beginning of the end. But it is not time to pull out the Drive’s urn, for they have earned their place in the standings up to this point, and are going to make it a fight until the very end.
Haviland: “W,” 3-4 (54PA; 5IP)
|AVG: 0.245||OBP: 0.315||SLG: 0.265||OPS: 0.580|
|ERA: 1.80||WHIP: 1.600|
The Dragons got a “W” yesterday, and managed to keep pace with the win total of the Drive while also gaining .4 games on them while also scoring fewer runs than their opponent. That’s a lot of good and bad, I think. But mostly good, considering their hitting on the day was mediocre – JT Realmuto got three hits and Brandon Lowe got 2 hits and 2 SBs – but they didn’t hit a single HR, which is unusual for any EFL team (we are all averaging at least 1 HR/game, if not more). The words for the Dragons are dragon and draggin’. I think Haviland players have to decide which one they will be for the final 2 weeks of the season. They and the Drive will have more games to play than any other EFL team, and if they decide to be a dragon, well, look out! But if they decide to be draggin’, it might make for a miserable final two weeks for them (but good for others, right?).
Flint Hill: “W,” 2-4 (45PA; 13.1IP)
|AVG: 0.225||OBP: 0.311||SLG: 0.300||OPS: 0.611|
|ERA: 4.06||WHIP: 0.977|
In what many would call overthinking a situation, Tornado management sat German Marquez on the bench for the rest of the month before his outing last night. Which turned into a mistake. He went 7IP giving up 2ER for a very solid outing, for which the Tornadoes got absolutely nothing but a big steaming pile of regret. In fact, the line shows that we gave up 6 runs yesterday, but only two of them were from allocated players, and so it wasn’t as bad (or as good) as it could have been. Flint Hill managed to creep a little closer to the top, gaining .7 games on the Drive and .5 games on the Dragons. The words for the Tornadoes are weird and wired. This team is wired to compete all the way until the end, unless the manager starts to get weird and make odd changes to the allocations of it’s good players. Stop being weird.
Bellingham: L, 5-9 (35PA; 7IP)
|AVG: 0.200||OBP: 0.314||SLG: 0.333||OPS: 0.648|
|ERA: 10.29||WHIP: 1.857|
The Cascades returned to the field after a day off to celebrate their holy matrimony. And it appears they were not quite ready to come back. Luis Garcia and Mike Fiers pitched poorly (combining for 8ER in 6IP – actually, Garcia didn’t record an out while allowing 4 runs), and Ronald Acuna, Jr. fouled a ball off his foot, though appears to have escaped a serious injury. There was actually only one player who was decidedly ready to play – new Cascade Marcell Ozuna who got 5 of the teams 6 hits, including a 2B and a HR. The words for the Cascades are wedding and whetting. The team will have to decide if it wants to spend the last two weeks thinking about the wonderful wedding of its owner, wishing they could return to that beautiful day, or will they choose to be a team whetting its appetite for a championship this season?
Cottage: W, 10-8 (45PA; no pitching)
|AVG: 0.381||OBP: 0.422||SLG: 0.643||OPS: 1.065|
The Cheese hitters were ready to go yesterday, pounding opposing pitchers and proclaiming they aren’t ready to throw in the towel this season. Every single player who got a hit got more than one hit, led by Nate Lowe and Jeff McNeil who both collected 3 hits apiece (2 of Lowe’s were HRs, for which he can thank the awful Red Sox pitching staff). The two words for the Cheese are cot and caught. The Cheese have flashed some real potential this year, followed by times of mediocrity. So is this flash of excellence something they have caught and can therefore carry them to a strong finish? Or will we need to bring out the cot and carry them to the finish line, which would be a sad ending for them but a happy one for us because we would, once again, get to experience an excellent Cheese lament?
Peshastin: DNP, 1-0 (50PA; 1IP)
|AVG: 0.214||OBP: 0.340||SLG: 0.357||OPS: 0.697|
|ERA: 9.00||WHIP: 2.000|
The Pears had 4 hitters get multiple hits, and 5 hitter get 0 hits. With 8 BBs, they did a good job getting on base, but a bad job of hitting those players in. But it didn’t matter, since they didn’t play yesterday (how many times in the past hundred years has a team not had a game scheduled on a Friday night, which is what the Dodger schedule had – no Friday night game. That’s crazy!) Ozzie Albies continued his September hot streak (1.105 OPS this month), as did Sean Murphy who hit a HR (monthly OPS of 1.485). The Pear words are injure and endure. The Pears have had their share of injuries this year, and currently they have Teoscar Hernandez and Gio Urshela on the shelf. The team can choose to wallow in this significant players being injured, or endure until the end. 4 games out is not a lot, so which will it be?
DC: L, 2-12 (35PA; 8IP)
|AVG: 0.138||OBP: 0.286||SLG: 0.379||OPS: 0.665|
|ERA: 11.25||WHIP: 2.250|
Balk batters decided to spend the day walking back and forth between the batter’s box and the bench, collecting only 4 hits in 35 PAs. 2 of those hits were HRs (Ryan McMahon and Adalberto Mondesi) but the rest of the team did a whole lot of nothing. All three pitchers (Alex Cobb, Matt Hall and David Phelps) were to blame for their poor pitching, each giving up at least one run per inning pitched. The Balk words for today are balk and bock (you know, like what a chicken says). The Balk words for today are prey and pray. The Balk players are at a crossroads – will they be prey for the teams they are playing? Or will they take a cue from their manager, a very spiritual man, and get on their knees and pray for a resurgence of energy and passion to finish the season? Either way, with news today of Matt Chapman’s hip surgery that will sideline him the rest of the season, they need to pray!
Canberra: “W,” 7-7 (38PA; 13.3IP)
|AVG: 0.286||OBP: 0.316||SLG: 0.686||OPS: 1.002|
|ERA: 6.77||WHIP: 1.579|
Roo hitters produced a very good day at the plate, but Roo pitchers did not. Every Roo hitter except for one (Carter Kieboom) collected a hit, led by a resurgent Yoshi Tsutsugo (oh, right, he is playing against the Red Sox…) who went 2 for 5 with a HR. In fact, 3 other players added HRs for the Roos – Rhys Hoskins, Ryan Jeffers and Michael Conforto. Unfortunately, Trevor Rogers was allocated 100%. He gave up 8ER in 3IP, sinking his team’s chances for a true win. The Roos did manage to gain .6 games on the Drive, and keep almost the same amount of distance from the Wolverines as they had the day before. I bet you didn’t know this, and it comes as a bit of a surprise to me since the Roos were dead last in HRs in July – but the Roos are actually leading the league in HRs this month. Thus, the words I have for the Roos are four and fore. Four, because if they continue to lead the league in HRs this month, it could mean a very strong finish for their team. But fore, because it feels like their pitching staff is just wild enough that the rest of us might need to take cover.
Old Detroit: W, 6-5 (56PA; no pitching)
|AVG: 0.315||OBP: 0.339||SLG: 0.593||OPS: 0.932|
A very good day for the Wolverine hitters led to a victory for them, and the erasure of .7 games distance between them and the Drive and an additional .7 game cushion between them and the Alleghenys below them. The hitters were led by Josh Bell and Adam Haseley, who both had three hits on the day. Lewis Brinson continues to make a case for being allocated this month, but the Wolverine owner has made it pretty clear that is not going to happen…or will it? Can his desire to win the month, in which he is now in second place, suppress Brinson and his 1.034 OPS this month? The two words for the Wolverines are win and when. OD has made it very clear then are attempting to win the month as a consolation to a rather tepid 2020 season for them. But the when is lurking at the door, asking to be opened and let loose…
Pittsburgh: L, 4-8 (27PA; 6.6IP)
|AVG: 0.174||OBP: 0.296||SLG: 0.435||OPS: 0.731|
|ERA: 8.18||WHIP: 1.818|
The Alleghenys are showing up each day, to their credit, but not really producing much for which their owner can be proud. Yesterday saw a potential no-hitter being thrown by Casey Mize, but Ranger Suarez came in and gave up twice as many runs, and 4 times as many hits as Mize did, and he did it in 1/3 of an inning! Dominic Smith continued to be one of the only bright spots for the Alleghenys this month, going 2 for 5 with a HR and a BB. The words for Pittsburgh are sore and soar. This month has been a sore sight for Allegheny fans, with their team record 3-6 and a team ERA of 6.13. But this is a team that in the past has been able to soar, to incredible heights. Just two months ago, in July, they were in first place at 5-2. To soar or be sore, that is the question.
Portland: DNP, (-3)-7 (26PA; .7IP)
|AVG: 0.048||OBP: 0.231||SLG: 0.095||OPS: 0.326|
|ERA: 64.29||WHIP: 8.571|
I mean, if your goal is to finish the season in last place so that you get the first pick next season, it is going admirably! This is just a rotten day by all accounts. The hitters got 1 hit in 21 ABs, though they did collect 5 BBs. And Anthony Kay gave up as many runs in one game as he had given up all season (5 last night and 5 in his previous 11 appearances). The words for the Rosebuds are loose and lose. Both of them are apropos – because the screws are coming loose, which is how you lose. And that is what they want, so that is what they get. For this season.
Combined MLB + EFL Standings for 2020
|Tampa Bay Rays||29||16||.644||—|
|Toronto Blue Jays||24||20||.545||4.5|
|Flint Hill Tornadoes||24||21||.534||5|
|New York Yankees||24||21||.533||5|
|Old Detroit Wolverines||18||27||.393||11.3|
|Boston Red Sox||16||30||.348||13.5|
|New York Mets||21||24||.467||5|
|Chicago White Sox||28||16||.636||—|
|Kansas City Royals||18||28||.391||11|
|St. Louis Cardinals||19||19||.500||3|
|Los Angeles Angels||18||28||.391||11.5|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||32||13||.711||—|
|San Diego Padres||29||17||.630||3.5|
|San Francisco Giants||23||22||.511||9|