1593: Play-By-Play

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The thrower started hitting the bats too much, so the king of the game told him to leave and brought out another thrower from thrower jail.
Title text: The thrower started hitting the bats too much, so the king of the game told him to leave and brought out another thrower from thrower jail.


Beret Guy comments on a baseball game using improper terminology in a way that demonstrates that he does not understand how the game is played. Moreover, his naïve way of speaking reveals that he is not aware of his lack of knowledge and does not consider it possible that, as is probably the case, his audience is much more familiar with this sport and its rules. His unworldly way of talking makes one even wonder if he has any notion of the way people experience sports at all. His choice of terminology is reminiscent of 1133: Up Goer Five, and 1322: Winter in that he names things using simplified terms that he feels best describes their function like "thrower", "second pillow" or "thrower jail". His commentary is a combination of mistaken terms and misunderstandings of the rules and principles of the game.

Spoken Text Corrected "Translation" Explanation
"We're on part 5 of a hitting game." "We're in the 5th [or "top of the 3rd"] inning of a baseball game." Part of baseball is hitting the ball with the bat. A baseball game is divided into rounds called innings, with each team getting a chance to bat. Since Beret Guy does not know what an inning is, he may count each half-inning as a "part", seeing that all players return to their dugouts to switch equipment between half-innings.
"The next guy has a big bat, so he'll probably hit the ball real far." N/A (A professional commentator would not correlate bat size with hitting ability.) This is a simply a misunderstanding that the size of a bat will determine the strength of the hit. Every hitter uses a bat that fits his physique, within certain limits in the rules. In general, the size of a bat is not a significant factor on the ball's distance. The limits in the rules generally prevent any sort of advantage gained by the size of the bat.
"Wait - he missed!" "Oh good, they're letting him try again." "Swing and a miss." "Here comes the 0-1." The goal in baseball for the fielding team is to get three outs to end the inning. One way to get an out is for the pitcher to get the batter to accumulate three strikes for a strikeout. A pitch that goes through the strike zone but is not swung at is counted as a strike, as is any ball that is swung at but missed. A foul ball (a ball hit into an out-of-play area) also counts as a strike unless it would be the third strike (except a foul tip, which can be the third strike). In this case, the batter swung at and missed the first pitch, and so has one strike but not a strikeout, so the hitter is allowed to "try again".
"The people sitting on the chair shelves are yelling at this guy but he's ignoring them. Wow. Rude." "Despite heckling from fans in the bleachers, this batter is keeping his head in the game." Cheering and heckling is so commonplace that the players on the field are unlikely to react to it.
"This thrower is good! He keeps making people leave by throwing balls at them." "This pitcher is good! He keeps striking out batters." OR "This pitcher keeps walking batters!" (These could be mixed.) Beret Guy may be indicating that the pitcher has struck out several batters. Batters who are out return to the dugout and the next batter replaces them. On the other hand, given Beret Guy's lack of baseball knowledge, it's possible that the pitcher has walked batters which would result in the batters leaving the batter's box and going to first base. Beret Guy could be considering this "making people leave".
"It's just him, though. None of his teammates are joining in." "The fielders aren't seeing much action right now (due to the pitcher's performance)." The other players of the team do not pitch. Their role while fielding is to get outs if the ball is hit. If the pitcher is either striking out or walking batters, the fielders (other than the catcher) would not generally be involved in the play.
"That guy just ran to the second pillow when no one was looking!!" "The runner has just stolen second base!" Any baserunner (a player standing at a base) can attempt to run to the next base before or while the pitcher delivers a pitch (called stealing a base). The pitcher or catcher can throw the ball to one of his teammates to tag out the runner before he reaches the next base. Thus, an attempt to steal a base is most successful if no one notices.

The "second pillow" implies that the runner in question stole second base, which is the most commonly stolen base. However, someone who knows little to nothing about baseball, such as Beret Guy in this case, may not be aware which bases are considered "first", "second", and "third", since the bases are not laid out linearly. The fact that there was a runner to steal a base suggests that one of the batters was indeed walked (or got a hit that was not mentioned, among other ways to reach base).

"Everyone's real mad but I guess they checked the rules and there's nothing that says he can't do that. Yikes. Hopefully they can fix that once the game is over." N/A (A professional commentator would not remark on the legality of the play.) A stolen base by the visiting team may be met with anger from the fans. A stolen base by either team may cause the other team to be angry. Beret Guy, not knowing the rules of baseball, seems to find it odd that the runner is allowed to steal a base and seems surprised that there is no rule against it. He suggests it's a loophole that hopefully the league will fix once they've learned of the stolen base. In reality, the players, fans and game officials would be well aware of the legality of stealing a base. Beret Guy's phrasing may be a reference to 1552: Rulebook.
Title text: "The thrower started hitting the bats too much, so the king of the game told him to leave and brought out another thrower from thrower jail." "The pitcher gave up too many hits, so the manager rotated the pitcher out of the game and called in a reliever from the bullpen." If the batters are getting too many hits, it may mean that the pitcher has become tired and less effective or that the batters are learning the pitcher's habits or rhythms. Once this happens, the team's manager will typically replace the pitcher with a relief pitcher who will come out of the bullpen (the generally enclosed area next to the playing field where relief pitchers warm up) to join the game. Beret Guy may be mistaking the manager of one team as in charge of the entire game with his term "King of the Game".


[Beret Guy is sitting with headphones with a microphone on, looking out of the frame, hands resting on a table.]
Beret Guy: For those just joining us, hi! We're on part 5 of a hitting game.
[Zoom out with Beret Guy shown from the side sitting at a desk.]
Beret Guy: The next guy has a big bat, so he'll probably hit the ball real far.
Beret Guy: Wait - he missed!
Beret Guy: Oh good, they're letting him try again.
[Zoom in again on Beret Guy still seen from the side.]
Beret Guy: The people sitting on the chair shelves are yelling at this guy but he's ignoring them. Wow.
Beret Guy: Rude.
[Beret Guy looks straight out.]
Beret Guy: This thrower is good! He keeps making people leave by throwing balls at them.
Beret Guy: It's just him, though. None of his teammates are joining in.
[Beret Guy turns his head to the side.]
Beret Guy: That guy just ran to the second pillow when no one was looking!!
Beret Guy: Everyone's real mad but I guess they checked the rules and there's nothing that says he can't do that.
Beret Guy: Yikes. Hopefully they can fix that once this game is over.

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First! Sorry. On a more serious note, is "how rude" a reference to the ugly guy on the first Star Wars? I'm sleepy and can't think well. Mikemk (talk) 05:41, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

I strongly doubt it, since this is a completely unrelated topic to Star Wars 06:07, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Also, the comic doesn't even include the phrase "how rude"... 06:11, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Why is Star Wars and its trailer even mentioned? Completely unrelated. The trailer aired during a football game not baseball. If Randall was trying to make that point it would be as such. This is more akin to a non-sports minded son-in-law trying to enjoy the sport with his wife's father (been there done that). Or perhaps Randall is saying that baseball is having a hard time trying to attract new fans with all the scandals so baseball has turned to reeling in non-traditional fans who need the games rules and play-by-play toned down to an understandable level. Anything but Star Wars.--R0hrshach (talk) 15:56, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, I read "Wow. Rude" as "How rude." 17:16, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Isn't the guy being yelled at in the "Wow. Rude." section the umpire? I think it's more likely that people would yell at an umpire (or maybe a coach) than any standard player. 21:19, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

The big issue I have is that he says there's no one else. There is the catcher. Would have made more sense to say two men are playing catch and someone else is rudely trying to hit the ball. Or that they're playing monkey in the middle... 15:18, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Simple Words

Could someone check if this is an instance of Randall Munroe doing a comic using only the 1000 most commonly used words? It looks like it might be. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nope! Lots of difficult words like "Wow" and "shelves" and "teammates" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yes should this even be references in the trivia. I vote for deleting the trivia, as I do not see this as an example of Beret Guy trying to speak simple, he just uses other words because he do not know the baseball version for these. --Kynde (talk) 12:50, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
I put the transcript and title text into Randall's word checker and came up with eleven words that didn't make the cut: "bat", "shelves", "wow", "rude", "teammates", "pillow", "rules", "yikes", "hopefully", "king", and "jail". -- 12:47, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Now that I've read Thing Explainer, I have some guesses for what the simple word replacements could be:
"bat"→"stick", "None of his teammates are"→"No one else on his team is", "pillow"→"plate", "Hopefully"→"I hope".
-- 17:37, 26 February 2016 (UTC) (Same guy as above.)

I do not see this as surreal at all. His description is spot on, assuming that he knows nothing about the game.-- 06:32, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

What's surreal is the (somewhat implausible) scenario where someone who knows nothing about baseball (or softball, I suppose. Or sport...) whould be commentating on a game.ChrisBedford (talk) 06:46, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

That's not surreal. That's ironic. 15:11, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
It's also business as usual. "And that happened!"-- 15:54, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

Why is beret guy talking about a pillow? 07:12, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

I read it as a reference to the points on the field (“bases”?) that the runner has to go around. The ones that are used as a euphemism for touching genitalia. -- 07:19, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
See 540: Base System! --Kynde (talk) 12:50, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Historically, the bases were made from stuffed fabric, they were essentially pillows.Tverma (talk) 08:15, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Baseball and cricket

Not being American, and never having watched a game of baseball in my life, this sounds like pretty much the way I would see baseball. Americans can get the same effect by watching a game of cricket. GreenWyvern (talk) 07:28, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Until he said "second pillow" I wasn't sure if it was commentary on baseball or cricket.Tverma (talk) 08:05, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Agreed, when you never have watched a full game of baseball even the explanation above is not enough to understand the rules and events he is talking about. So spot on ;-) We only play this in early school as we think it is a kids game (probably like many Americans consider soccer?) --Kynde (talk) 12:50, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
And just like the football/'soccer' difference in naming local variants in Association Football, our baseball is generally called 'rounders'. 13:21, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
While the description of the game might match someone who never saw any baseball, the failure to identify cheering and heckling suggest he never saw ANY game nor other sport event, which seems improbable. -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:25, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Although not for Beret Guy! --Kynde (talk) 12:50, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Main text says the words are not part of the "10,000" common words. But Randall's simplespeak is only a 1000 word corpus -- ten hundred. <digressing rant> That's somewhat irrelevant given the dubious qualities of Randall's simplespeak anyway. "bat" for example is a common word that kids learn early in kindergarten and elementary school when they learn the CVC pattern, not to mention it's a fairly common theme for Halloween and children books. Same goes to some of the other words. "wow" is not a word but an onomatopoeia, and "rude" is a basic English word known to everybody [citation needed]. Somewhere along the line, followers forgot this is all a game and are taking it way too seriously. </rant> Ralfoide (talk) 16:48, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Variant games

It might be interesting to mention which comments by the Beret Guy lead to the elimination of other ball and bat games, especially when only a single comment does so. For instance, it looks like the description of the game would also fit pesäpallo, a Finnish ball and bat game, save that in that game you don't throw the ball at the batter. 13:37, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

This comic makes me think of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptrSoRSq8vw&feature=youtu.be Macarthur1950 (talk) 20:27, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

It reminded me of this IT-crowd scene (never actually watched the IT crowd, just seen the video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjC38Z4T6zc Jack (talk) 22:15, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

It's amusing to see various games ruled out in the notes. The one game that can't be ruled out is Calvinball. Being utterly random, there is a possibility that at the moment Beret Guy is commenting that the game overlaps the rules of baseball. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It can also be Nomic :D. -- 05:06, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

The chair shelves are the bunker, not the bleachers, no? This would make the people yelling from the chair shelves his team mates, providing "noise" and instructions about where to hit the ball? AFAIK In pro baseball, it's a slightly recessed secure box from which they send "signals" to the batter, telling them what to do -- either bunt, hit left field, keep infield, allow the steal, etc The batter has to not acknowledge the signals, and that way the fielding team doesn't know whether there was actually a signal sent at all. The psych strategy has the hitting team constantly send random signal "noise" i.e. movements that look like they *might* be signals, but mean nothing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dugout_(baseball) Bottom picture on the page shows the chair in the dugout (bench) and the plastic seats the crowd is in (basically the same as in any other stadium) https://www.google.com.au/search?q=dugout&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAWoVChMIhMiVt9DUyAIVYjimCh1JKw9N&biw=1549&bih=965#imgrc=dtPIvP1bSgcIMM%3A Importantly, dugout benches are often mounted to the dugout wall. Whereas bleachers (stadium seats) are mounted on poles attached to the ground. This, in my mind, makes me think that "chair shelves" would need to be wall-mounted, therefore dugout. 22:52, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Not at all. Most dugouts are actual benches. Hes talking about the folding chairs in the stands.


Notice they mount to the wall behind them. Some don't but some do. His explanations aren't perfect presumably because Randall isnt a baseball fan. Everyone is way over thinking this. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Second Pillow

The text currently complains that Beret Guy wouldn't know which pillow was second, but this is the fifth period, folks! Beret Guy is not dumb just lacking experience. It's not unreasonable that enough runners have reached the second pillow or even gotten all the way back to the house pillow and given up, for Beret Guy to figure that out. 14:06, 22 October 2015 (UTC)


Could this also be a reference to all the nerds being 'forced' to watch Monday night football to watch the new The Force Awakens trailer released just two days before this comic? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It reminds me of the scene in OotP where Luna referees a Quidditch match SPECTACULARLY. ("Loser's Lurgy", ha ha ha) 21:38, 4 December 2015 (UTC)

Quite old, but it's more likely a reference to "and that happened". -- 20:30, 7 August 2021 (UTC)

The inning

he says their on part five of hitting game could that also mean their in the top of the third Fdfpi47 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'd say it's possible. Since it's likely Beret Guy is watching the game live in front of him, he may not know the distinction of top/bottom innings. -- 05:45, 23 October 2015 (UTC)


Can someone please explain the title "play-by-play"? -- 22:28, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

In sport reporting, play-by-play means giving detailed descriptions (in some level) of the events happening on the field. -- 05:45, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
Isn't there another comic where Beret Guy uses all the wrong words for things?

I just can't remember which one it is... 17:41, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

Neither do I. I do remember he said stuff like "stick trees" or whatever. 21:26, 4 December 2015 (UTC)
It was this one: https://xkcd.com/1322/ 08:43, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Any significance to the fact that Beret Guy is apparently wearing Beats brand headphones? Sportscasters generally do not use such, maybe another indicator of his inexperience? Miamiclay (talk) 02:34, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

Stolen Base

If the runner ran to second base and no one noticed, wouldn't that imply that there was no attempt to get the runner out? If so, wouldn't that be Defensive Indifference instead of a stolen base? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not likely, for a couple of things:
First, running to 2B "when no one was looking" may well mean simply that the pitcher didn't pay attention to the runner for a split second, instead of the entire defense ignoring the advance.
Second, there is no apparent reason for the defense to allow the runner to take second. DI usually happens late in a close game where a throwing error may prove fatal, and/or the pitcher needs to focus on getting the current batter out (bottom 10th of the 2016 WS Game 7 comes to mind). Based on the 3rd panel, this is either a high-scoring game (BB/HBP/H) or a pitching-dominant game (K), neither of which would warrant a DI.
Third, a DI mostly generates little reaction by the fans and/or the dugouts. Here "everyone's real mad".--Troy0 (talk) 08:59, 5 March 2017 (UTC)
Fourth panel

Isn't "This thrower is good! He keeps making people leave by throwing balls at them." more likely a reference to the pitcher hitting the batters and advancing them to first base, rather than just walking them (or striking them out)? That interpretation would make Beret Guy's assessment of the pitcher's performance completely wrong (he's actually rather bad, not good), which seems to fit better with the tone of the comic. 06:47, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

I think that when he says "it's just him though" he means that the pitcher is the only one throwing balls at the batter. Implying that he thinks the other player might be allowed to do so but are choosing not to. 07:26, 20 February 2017 (UTC)

Which would make sense with HBPs as much as with BBs. Beret Guy knows nothing about what players are supposed to do.--Troy0 (talk) 08:47, 5 March 2017 (UTC)