Ken Parker saw a letter in the daily paper that said “Rush Limbaugh and his far-right bunch are probably gnashing their wrists … ” Parker writes: “Let’s hope they don’t start slashing their teeth.”
Only a few days later, there was a report from the race track. “Carroll talked about why the colt, unbeaten in three career starts, isn’t in the race. ‘A lot of thought went into this,’ Carroll said. ‘A lot of mashing the teeth, so to speak.’ ”
The approach of baseball season prompted a colleague to ask about wheelhouse, a word used freely in baseball broadcasts. Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary says that wheelhouse is “That part of the strike zone in which the batter swings with the most power or strength; the path of a batter’s best swing. A pitcher tries not to ‘hang one’ in the batter’s wheelhouse; to do so is to invite a home run.” As for etymology, Dickson says it has been suggested that “batters ‘wheel’ at the ball (‘take good, level “roundhouse” swings’) and that such wheels ‘probably suggested the word association, “wheelhouse.” ‘ In nautical terms, a wheelhouse is the pilot house or the place from which a vessel is controlled.” The first recorded use of wheelhouse was in 1959, Dickson says. I would have guessed it considerably older.
Young people will need an explanation of roundhouse, too. It’s a building “for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.” There used to be more of them.
Wheelhouse is pretty much the opposite of kitchen, defined by Dickson as “The area of a batter’s torso inside or at the edge of the high and inside portion of the strike zone. A fastball coming into this area — ‘getting in his kitchen’ — is especially tough, if not impossible, to hit.”
Some people in the office didn’t even know what the tools of ignorance are. They throw like girls.