I hate to trespass on the New Yorker‘s territory, but I can’t resist passing along the headline to this story from the Berkshire Eagle:
Few saw rookie weave mound gem
(In case the story gets taken offline or that fastsearch link doesn’t work, the story is about a young Florida Marlins pitcher who threw a no-hitter—the first in the major leagues for two and a half years—before a few thousand people, Florida having pretty much given up on their underachieving team. Oh, and for those who don’t know from baseball: “mound” refers to the pitcher’s mound, the slight elevation from which the pitcher throws the ball to the batter, sixty feet and six inches away. As to how you’re supposed to weave a gem, you’re on your own with that. Ask the headline writer.)


  1. michael farris says

    Also, am I alone in thinking that ‘mound gem’ is a really unappealing collocation?

  2. Perhaps you could weave a gem with glass fibre.

  3. A quick search on google shows that “weave a gem” seems to be fairly rare and used almost exclusively in connection with baseball – specifically for pitchers throwing a great game. To describe a great pitching peformance as “Throwing a gem” is very common (and makes more sense). “To weave magic” is also a common sports cliche to describe pitching performance. My guess is that a few sportswriters have decided these cliches could be combined.

  4. “Weave mound gem” is also a fairly awkward sequences of words. The rhythm of three stressed syllables with no unstressed ones grates on my ears a little.

  5. Mixed metaphors are a pernicious disease among the baseball commentariat. At the beginning of the first Yankee home game this season (broadcast on the YES Network in New York), announcer Michael Kay referred to the game as “another thread in the fabric of the cathedral that is Yankee Stadium.” (This wasn’t some off-the-cuff comment but was part of the prepared intro to the game — heck, he was probably crafting that sentence all through spring training.) So if a pitcher can weave a gem, why not a cathedral made of threads?

  6. I’m surprised at the literary conservatism on display here. Have you never read late Shakespeare with its extraordinary density of metaphor? Surely this is the direction the Bard himself would have heading had his planned comeback not been cut short by a dodgy pint in a Warwickshire hostelry. Writing like this has made my day come true and I take off my heart from the bottom of my hat.

  7. “have been heading”, of course.

  8. I’m reminded of a hard-to-parse headline I saw once: “Judge rules abuse records confidential.” There’s only one word in that that couldn’t be a verb.

  9. Off-topic, to be sure, but Florida is hardly an underachieving team. It’s unlikely that the Marlins will earn a wild-card berth but they have well exceeded the expectations this season, given the salary-dumping ways of their owner and the poor support of their fans. With a team payroll of just under $15 million–which is $20 million less than the next lowest total team payroll, that of Tampa Bay, and almost $180 million less than the Yankees spent this year–Florida has flirted with a .500 record all season.

  10. Here at the office we had a nice chuckle over a headline from the Trenton Times’ coverage of the World Cup: “Great unexpections greet Czechs, Iran.”
    No, we can’t figure it out, either.

  11. Eric: I did have a moment’s qualm before adding that “underachieving,” but basically, you can look at the situation two ways: you can take into account the lousy ownership and say they’re doing pretty impressively (your take), or you can take into account the fact that they’ve won two Series in their short existence and could reasonably be expected to do better than flirt with .500. I can respect both views, but I think the latter is held by the fans who are staying away in droves, so I went with it. Condolences from a Mets fan whose team is miraculously overachieving. (But wait’ll next year!)

  12. Point well taken–and from a fellow Mets fan as well!

  13. I doff my head to J. Cassian, and hope to heave a gem at home plate someday.

  14. Off topic, re “wait’ll next year”: I’ve never seen “wait’ll” for “wait till” before but it gets 124K ghits. Remarkable. (Hence this remark.)

  15. I actually thought as I typed it “Can you write it that way?” But that’s how I say it, so that’s how I wrote it. I’m glad the Gods of Google back me up.

  16. BTW, how do you pronounce the young gem weaver’s name? The announcers on Boston stations have been pronouncing it as if it were Annabelle instead of Anibal.

  17. I say it the Spanish way, ah-NEE-bahl. Sounds like the Boston announcers are reverting to the bad old days (when I was a wee lad) when we all said “PEE-dro RAY-mohs” for Pedro Ramos.

  18. By the way, the Berkshire Eagle did have a headline show up in the New Yorker years ago. It was “War worries dog consumers,” published during the run-up to Gulf War I.
    The New Yorker used to publish a dozen or so of those things in every issue. They called them “newsbreaks.” Now it’s one or two at most — does anyone know why they got chopped? I always thought they were among the choicest bits. E. B. White used to write a lot of the punchlines. He published a collection of them , called “Ho-hum” in 1931. (

  19. Hey, baseball is played on a diamond now–so the gem thing works a little bit–the weaving though–unless there are diamond weavers up in the Berkshires.
    As to the Florida Marlins being a good team–duh? They once were World Champions but their owner is a filthy rich nutjob and he punishes South Floridians for not building him a custom-designed stadium at their expense and his profits by selling off the championship team and going up against Tampa Bay for the worst team in Florida title. The only hope for the Marlins is their manager, an ex-Yankee–ex-Yankees this year have made great managers, wouldn’t you Mets fans agree? Only problem is the nutjob owner has already insulted Joe, who almost got them back in playoff contention, and he’s about ready to throw in the towel on them. I’m throwing in the towel on this comment, thank the god of baseball.
    By the way, if you don’t think money buys a great team, check out the Yankees this year so far. Hey, baseball is a Capitalist’s dream game; the citizens of a city will build you a stadium free and then allow you the owner to keep all the profits you make in that stadium–it is baseball players themselves who let themselves be sold like slaves to the highest bidders–the Yankees are drawing a record 4+ million fans this year–in Capitalism if you’ve got the bucks you rule the competition, which is what a business is, just a little game like baseball where all depends on the stuff you’re pitchin’ on whether you’re weaving gems or faux pearls on the mound. Look how New Yorkers are so loyal to their NY teams; yet those NY team owners would gladly move their New York teams to whatever other city could come up with the free stadium and tax breaks and allowed to keep all the concessions monies–loyalty to loyal fans? Check out the Brooklyn Dodgers; the New York Giants. It’s all about the geetus, folks; that’s all anything’s about in this Capitalist country, even the writing of sports columns and the language they use in it.
    Ur fiend (certainly in baseball)

  20. The reason for the shortage of newsbreaks in the New Yorker nowadays is the same as the reason for the shortage of “bus plunge” articles in newspapers: digital typography software that removes the need for short pieces that can be cut at will when trying to justify columns.

    Of course, some people’s columns remain stubbornly unjustified, software or no.

  21. Bus Plunge, Bus Plunge II. (Not a single comment on the latter!)

Speak Your Mind