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“Protect the Plate?” Why?

The World Series starts today, and while I would like to write about all the times I got annoyed at people mentioning it has been 108 years since the Cubs won and nobody mentioned that it had been 71 years since the Cubs had even been in it, I’m sticking with word usage.

Today’s baseball-themed topic comes from the softball diamond, but I remember hearing the same words as a Little League Baseball player in my youth: “Protect the plate.”

Typically, when a batter has two strikes on him/her, a coach reminds the batter to “protect the plate,” that is, if the ball is a strike — or if it looks like it will be a strike — swing.

I thought about this today. Home plate is a five-sided slab or rubber set at ground level. What protection does it possibly need, except perhaps 1) to sweep away the excess dirt, 2) stop pitched balls from hitting it, and 3) stop batters from aggressively pounding their bats on it, which leaves discoloration marks?

This is another example of a baseball term that doesn’t mean what it should (see: foul pole). What we really should be saying is, “protect the strike zone.”

It is the strike zone, the space a pitched ball must pass through to be called a strike (if the batter does not swing) that matters. So, don’t protect the plate, protect yourself and swing at a pitch in or near the strike zone.

Now, go Cubs.

Until next time! Use the right words!


October 25, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. My son plays baseball, and I use this saying all the time. But my husband agrees with you. In addition, he says that if anyone protects home plate, it is the catcher. The defensive team “protects” the plate from the third base runner! Like the offense in football protects the endzone.


    Comment by Lisa McCall | August 2, 2017 | Reply

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