540: Base System

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Redirected from 540)
Jump to: navigation, search
Base System
I once got to second base with a basketball player. She was so confused.
Title text: I once got to second base with a basketball player. She was so confused.

[edit] Explanation

This comic comes in two parts and is a pun on the baseball metaphor used to describe how far a date went regarding erotic actions. Many different versions of the baseball metaphor exist, with varying degrees of complexity. But it has rarely been described with as many details as the one drawn by Randall in this comic.

[edit] First part - the comic strip

In the first part, a four frame strip along the top, Ponytail and Cueball discuss how Cueball's date went. When Cueball answers Ponytail's question with "second base", Ponytail asks what that means exactly. They fumble around with the definition in panel two where Ponytail ask is that Below the waist, but... not under the clothes? Cueball tries to put this into the base system and suggest that this could be compared to the difficult shortstop fielding position in baseball, between 2nd and 3rd base. This fits with the position of Hands on the pants metaphor from the picture below the comic strip. Then Ponytail begins with yet another base analogy by mentioning crossing the pitcher's mound, but then suddenly she brings two more, very different, sports into the metaphor: American football (with the 50 yard line) and bowling (with the ten-pin). It certainly sounds tricky, as Cueball says. Ponytail then brings up a third sport in her elaboration; her reference to getting a "red flag" could refer to different sports, as many sports use flags, some of them red. It is, however, most likely a reference to racing in motor sport as the red flag is displayed when conditions are too dangerous to continue the session. This makes sense when looking at the "translation" here below. Cueball, however, has not got a clue which he expresses when Ponytail asks him If you know what I mean.

Here is a translation of Ponytails comment:

Original: You should try crossing the pitcher's mound. Then down the 50-yard line, and right past her ten-pin.
Translation: You should try crossing her pubic mound, then down the landing strip, and right past her clitoris.
Original: Last time I tried it, I got a red flag.
Translation: Last time I tried it, she had her period.

This would mean that Ponytail was about to go down on another girl, while this girl had her period. Many people would find it disgusting to go down on a girl while she was menstruating, explaining Ponytails reaction to Cueball's Sounds tricky reply.

[edit] Second part - the baseball diamond

The second part, the diagram, depicts a much more complex version of the baseball metaphor, where baseball terms and jargon are used to describe the many and varied things human beings like to do in the bedroom. Explanations have been separated by position. In order to understand the terms used, one may want to consult this picture:

The baseball diamond and surrounding areas

Note that Randall did not include any features from within the diamond; the pitchers mound or plate.

[edit] The diamond

The "diamond" is the geometric pattern formed by the four bases - first, second, third, and home plate. After the ball is hit by the batter, and is in the air, players have a chance to move to the next base in line, from first, to second, to third, and finally to home plate (scoring only if they make it to home plate), only being removed from play if they are touched by a player carrying the ball in an attempt to move between bases. Thus there is a "progression" from one base to the next of sexual activity in the metaphor, until climax is achieved (getting to 'home plate' and 'scoring a point')

The entries in this section are ordered roughly from home plate to first, to second, to third, and then to home plate again, in the counterclockwise direction that the players move.

  • Eye contact is placed just alongside the initial stage where the 'player' has just stepped off the home plate and is starting to move towards first. This is a deliberate setup for the 'thigh contact' pun later just before home plate. First eye, then thigh contact. First then can the sex begin and you have finally scored by reaching the home plate.
  • Passing notes refers to a common method of communication in the classroom in school, often used by students as a form of courtship. It is placed halfway between the start and first base - the point at which communication has begun.
  • First base is kissing. This is one of the most common assigned meanings for what the 'first base' is in the baseball metaphor - as in, "getting to first base".
  • The boring zone is the point between kissing and sexual teasing or activity - the point where intimacy has become normal but sexual behaviors have not been accepted yet. This is boring for many (stereotypically this goes especially for men). It can also be the point at which a workup is attempted from kissing to gentle stroking and finally to the overt sexual teasing that is found by the time you have gotten to second base.
  • Second base is licking or hands under the shirt. Overt sexual teasing, in an attempt to get the other person aroused.
  • 'Hands on the pants' and 'hands in the pants' are two activities that happen in a very short distance of each other during an average sexual encounter. They are also separated by the 'orgasm line', indicating that teasing has stopped and actual sexual activity has begun.
  • Third base is oral sex. Oral sex is often used to prepare or arouse another person in preparation for intercourse, although it can be performed until one or both climax. In older versions of the baseball metaphor, third base was "hands in the pants" instead, which has been moved to earlier on the line in this new, "modern" version - or at least, Randall's conception of it.
  • The Virginity line, which is also named, in brackets, after the Maginot Line, a series of French fortifications that were thought to be impenetrable during the lead-up to World War II. This line provides a direct "barrier" to the path between third base and a home run. The Maginot Line was thought to be completely impenetrable until it was bypassed by the German army during WW2 through the Ardennes forest, whereupon it was encircled and destroyed. Virginity is often seen as an impenetrable barrier, or an unwillingness, up until arousal and desire conspire to make it go away rapidly.
  • Teens, naturally, having a propensity for hormone-driven sex, bypass the Virginity line with ease.
  • Sharing root PWs (passwords) is placed very close to home plate. As a system administrator, the one thing you never, ever do is give anyone the root (core) password to a file system, because anyone with the password is able to get unlimited access to the system to do whatever they please. Sharing a root password with another person is a nerdy way of saying that you trust them on an intimate, deep level. In other words, it requires more trust than oral sex.
  • Finally, there is home plate. In this diagram, it is unlabelled, but in all versions of the baseball metaphor, the home plate signifies sexual intercourse and climax. Scoring a "home run" with a sexual partner means you "took it all the way" and "scored a point"; i.e. got laid. Close to the home plate, the virginity line and orgasm line cross, as penetrative sex is rarely the most effective way for a woman to reach orgasm.

[edit] Within the diamond and around the orgasm line

Inside the diamond, at the center of the mound, is the pitcher. Several odd positions are placed here in Randall's diagram.

  • The Orgasm Line, which passes through almost every other play field, seems to be a divider that runs throughout the entire map that separates teasing and arousing behavior from overt sexual behavior intended to pleasure others.
    • Using the scroll thingy on that one Apple mouse is presumably here because the small, rounded scroll button can be imagined to be a clitoris. But it does not even get close to cross the orgasm line. (See also 243: Appropriate Term.)
    • Fursuits (arousing, to some) become crotchless fursuits (overtly a sexual tool) when they cross the orgasm line.
    • Hands on the pants and hands in the pants are two related but different activities - hands on the pants is arousing but not past the orgasm line, wheras hands in the pants can give pleasure enough to cross the orgasm line.
    • Dry humping is the activity of humping (thrusting against) a partner without one or both of them removing their clothes, in order to arouse or gain sexual satisfaction. The location is probably a combination of the fact that it lies somewhere between hands on/in the pants, is definitely not an activity that is considered "out there" (in the outfield), hasn't quite made it to 3rd base, but at least it crosses the orgasm line.

[edit] Infield

The infield is a series of catchers stationed immediately outside or just within the diamond, with the goal of receiving the ball from the outfield (or catching it themselves) and using it to tag any running opposing teammates to foil their attempts at moving to the next base on the diamond. Players within the diamond, such as the shortstop, will also be doing this as well - they often receive the ball from the infield. As such, the infield is still "out there", away from the "usual" sexual interactions in the diamond, but they are things you might pass upon the way.

  • Napoleon's Forces is a cartography joke, one making a comment that all of this complicated positioning makes the image look like a map depicting military maneuvers - or possibly simply a visual gag meant to evoke the image of Napoleon's army marching through a land of sexual behaviors.
  • Fursuits are anthropmorphic animal costumes worn by some members of the Furry Fandom, people who are fans of anthropomorphized (human-like) animals. Fursuiters are a small fraction of the entire fandom, but are sometimes used in sexual play.
  • Fursuits (crotchless) are fursuits with no fabric or covering on the groin (crotch) of the wearer, and as such are specifically intended for sexual play. They are placed slightly further "out there" on the field due to this being more unusual, and across the orgasm line.
  • Standing anywhere near Peaches is referring to the musician Peaches who is known for her heavy use of sexual imagery.

[edit] Outfield

The "outfield" is a group of players who are there to catch the ball if it goes away from the main play area (anything outside the upper curving line) and return it to play in a manner advantageous to their team. As they separated away from the main play area, the things in the outfield are often references to sexual behaviors that are "kinky" and "out there".

  • 2outfielders1glove is a reference to the infamous 2girls1cup scatological site and associated meme.
  • The Retrograde Wheelbarrow is a sex position, one referenced previously in 300: Facebook, making this a callback.
  • Eye contact from Janeane Garofalo is a tie-in to the "eye contact" entry positioned near home base. It's possible that this is placed in the outfield because fantasizing about celebrities like Janeane Garofalo is a behavior that is often considered unusual, even though many people do it.

[edit] Foul ball

A foul ball occurs when a ball ends up in foul territory which is outside the foul line extending from either side of the diamond, the area is "out of play". Anyone who takes the ball into this area has committed a foul, and as such breached one of the acceptable rules of sexual conduct in the metaphor.

  • Anal sex is a pun on the term "foul ball", as the anus is where fecal matter collects. The position is placed just outside the foul line.
  • Downloading Star Trek fanfiction and replacing Riker's name with your crush is a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Riker, the First Officer of the Enterprise-D, is often a subject of sexual desire among the fandom, and so taking a piece of fanfiction (fan-written, noncanon stories written about a piece of fiction) and replacing Riker's name with that of your crush is an ultra-nerdy way of indicating that they are attractive - so ultra-nerdy, it's creepy.
  • The binary (i.e. base 2) numbers are an ASCII representation of the characters "base 2". The base of a number system is the number of unique digits required to represent numbers in that system. Binary is therefore a "base 2" system. This seems to be a little nerd sniping: wasting the time of anyone familiar enough with computing to know how to decode it.
  • "Your base" is a reference to the original "base" metaphor mixed with a reference to the Zero Wing All Your Base meme. It is most likely a reference to masturbation (i.e. solo sex or you-sex and is in the foul area). First you make eye contact with a gorges girl (boy) and then you go home and satisfy yourself with a fantasy about all the tings you would like to do with her (him). It's possible that this being here is also a stealth insult towards the reader - the reader's own base (him/herself) is "out of play" and thus undesirable.

[edit] Title text

If you are together with a basketball player, kisses her, and then tells her that you are now at second base, she might become very confused. Also there is the joke that basketball players never get laid because they always jump before they score.

[edit] Transcript

[At the top there is a four panel regular comic strip.]
[Cueball and Ponytail are talking; Ponytail is sitting on the back of a chair with her feet on the seat, and Cueball is sitting on the floor facing her.]
Ponytail: So how far did you get with her?
Cueball: Second base?
[Zoom in on Ponytail on the chair.]
Ponytail: Wait, which one is that? Below the waist, but... not under the clothes?
Cueball (off-panel): I think that's... shortstop?
[Cueball now almost lies down and Ponytail is sitting on the armrest of the chair.]
Ponytail: You should try crossing the pitcher's mound. Then down the 50-yard line, and right past her ten-pin.
Cueball: Sounds tricky.
[Again a zoom in on Ponytail now on the armrest.]
Ponytail: Yeah. Last time I tried it, I got a red flag. If you know what I mean.
Cueball (off-panel): I really don't.
[Below the strip there is a large frame with a diagram of a baseball diamond.]
[At the bottom left there is a box with tis text:]
The "Base" Metaphor Explained
[Bases are pointed too with thick black arrows (except home plate) and there are also arrows pointing to different parts of the diagram. All arrows and points marked with "x" have a description, as do the dashed lines covering the field. Below they will be listed anti-clockwise from the home plate.]
[Along the line towards first base is the following five items in the order they appear:]
[x slightly right of home plate:]
Eye contact
[Black arrow pointing to a base half way to first base outside the line:]
Your Base
[x inside the line opposite your base]
Passing notes
[Black arrow pointing to a base further along and outside the line:]
0110 0010 0110 0001
0111 0011 0110 0101
0010 0000 0011 0010
[x Slightly before first base:]
Downloading Star Trek fanfiction and replacing Riker's name with your crush's.
[Black arrow pointing to first base:]
First base: Kissing
[Further along the line past the first base is one x point in the right outfield:]
Eye contact from Janeane Garofalo.
[On the way towards second base there are the following two items:]
[A region along the line from first to second has been marked off by a dotted line. It has the following text written inside:]
The boring zone.
[x some way inside the line next to the boring zone:]
Using the scroll thingy on that one Apple mouse
[Black arrow pointing to second base:]
Second base: Hands under the shirt and/or licking
[On the route from second to third base are eight items:]
[A dotted line traveling from near the outfield above second base, then crossing the second baseline about 1/3 of the way to third base, snaking its way almost down to the home plate ending close to the third baseline. The following text is written along the dotted line inside the diamond:]
The orgasm line
[Above second base a large black arrow crosses the orgasm line near the outfield:]
Napoleon's forces
[x below the Napoleon arrow right before crossing the orgasm line:]
[Two arrows points to the second base line on each side of the orgasm line:]
Hands on the pants
Hands in the pants
[x some way into the diamond just past the orgasm line:]
Dry humping
[x same distance down the second base line as dry humping, but equally far outside the line still infield:]
Fursuits (crotchless)
[x almost at the extension of the 3rd base line close to the outfield:]
Standing anywhere near Peaches
[In the left outfield there are two x points:]
[x in the outfield halfway along the second base line:]
Retrograde wheelbarrow
[x in the outfield almost at the extension of the third base line:]
[Foul of the third base line just left of where the grass line divides the in- and outfield:]
Anal sex (fill in your own "foul ball" pun here.)
[Black arrow pointing to third base:]
Third base: Oral sex (formerly "hands in the pants")
[On the route from third to home plate there are four items:]
[Between third base and home there is a dotted line that makes a curve from right outside the third base line and ends right afer it has crossed the orgasm line. The text is written inside the diamond with the first word above and the other two below the dotted line:]
"Virginity" (Maginot) line
[A large black arrow curves around the end of the "Virginity" line outside of the diamond:]
[A large black arrow points from outside the diamond to a point right between home plate and the virginity line:]
Sharing root PWs
[x just before home plate at the end of the orgasm line inside the diamond:]
Thigh contact

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Panels 3 & 4 refer to yet other sports. A 50-yard line is a significant location in American football; a ten-pin is a specific pin location in bowling; and a red flag is a warning given in non-American football (what Amercians call soccer).

Soccer has a red card for expulsion from the field, not a flag. A red flag may be used to stop a race in motorsports.13:28, 1 December 2013 (UTC) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The arrow indicating Napoleon's forces may be a reference to the classic map/diagram by Charles Joseph Minard, which shows not only the path Napoleon's army took on its Russian invasion, but also several other relevant categories of facts about that campaign, thus folding several conceptual dimensions into two. (sorry, should have signed this.) 07:44, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

As far as I know, the image I've added is for example purposes, and is such for fair use - but those wiser than I can feel free to check it. Here's where I found it. Jetman123 (talk) 23:57, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

This image is originally from Wikimedia Commons, and has been released into the public domain. Therefore your use is legal. --Troy0 (talk) 05:13, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Using the scroll wheel on that one Apple mouse refers to the resemblance between its size and method of use and rubbing a woman's clitoris. 13:53, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

It says under the passing notes thing that it's for students with an interest in the opposite sex, implying that only heterosexual students pass notes. Not really a big deal but it just annoys me. 13:16, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

I agree, and have modified the wording to cover note passing as a 'form of courting' --Pudder (talk) 11:39, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
The explanation says that the meaning behind the base 2 label is unknown. As far as I see it, the fact that binary uses base 2, and the base is labelled base 2 written in binary is a clear and obvious meaning. --Pudder (talk) 11:49, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?