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Sheldon Ocker’s The Write Stuff


Please clarify these terms and policies of Major League Baseball.

• Is there a policy for names to be placed on the backs of jerseys?

I have seen games where both home and visiting teams have the names but other times one team does not. I have never seen the Yankees with names on their jerseys.

• Do you recall why it’s been decided to throw baseballs out of play so frequently?

I remember during my Depression Day games we would use a ball until the stuffing started to fall out, then we’d tape it up and finish the game.

• Please explain these pitching terms: 2-seamer, 4-seamer, slider, arm slot, the difference between a change-up and an off-speed pitch.

Dan T. Hayes

Dear Dan:

I believe the practice of putting players’ names on the backs of jerseys began when television became popular, but teams are not required to do so.

Teams these days leave the names off the jerseys to induce fans to think of the good old days, even if they weren’t so good.

The Yankees refrain from putting names on their jerseys because they are THE YANKEES, and everyone should know who their players are.

It’s even a small blow to their egos to put numbers on the backs of their jerseys.

Baseballs get thrown out of games so often you’d think they were Indians players on the verge of free agency. The reason: any time a ball hits the dirt, it might pick up a scratch or scuff that would help the pitcher get extra movement.

The economy has very little to do with disposing of perfectly good baseballs. If an owner is willing to pay A-Rod $33 million per year, do you think he cares about paying for a few hundred dozen more baseballs?

A 2-seamer is a sinking fastball and a 4-seamer is a rising fastball or tailing fastball. The 4-seamer usually is thrown with more velocity.

A slider is a pitch that has a small but distinctly sharp break or a small hamburger.

All change-ups are off-speed pitches, but not all off-speed pitches are change-ups. Off-speed is a general term for any pitch meant to ruin the timing of a batter who is expecting a fastball.

An off-speed pitch also is a strategy used by dorky guys trying to pick up girls in a bar.

Sheldon Ocker


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