The Idiot’s Guide to Cubs Social Media Lexicon
Are you intimidated by Twitter? Have you found yourself scratching your head while reading various message boards and social media sites because you’re simply lost in the nomenclature? Do you wish there was a Rosetta Stone for facetags and hashtimes and all the other little inside jokes you’re just not privy to? Will this fool ever stop asking questions and just get to point?
If you answered yes to any of the first three questions, I’m here to help. Below, you’ll find a not-quite-comprehensive list of various words and phrases you’re likely to encounter if you choose to dip your toe into the pool of awesomeness that is Cubs Twitter. A quick note that I’ve simplified the entries below for the uninitiated, but many will appear in hashtag (#) form when you encounter them online. Using a hashtag can be a way to search other posts with the same term or it can be a way to clarify the meaning of an ambiguous tweet (#SarcasmFont). You’re welcome.
Refers to Al Yellon, proprietor of seminal Cubs blog Bleed Cubbie Blue. Along with Brett (Taylor of Bleacher Nation) and John (Arguello of Cubs Den), one of the best-known among what has become a very crowded house of Cubs-centric sites. Not too many folks merit first-name-only status.
If you’ve ever complained about your team hitting nothing but atom (or at ’em) balls all game while their opponents squeaked out seeing-eye singles and duck-snort doubles, you’ve cursed the BABIP gods. Chances are good that you’ve praised them a few times too. The more enlightened fan might be inclined to think batting average on balls in play is ruled by the law of large numbers, but they’d be wrong. Logic has no place here.
Baez after dark
Typically expressed #BaezAfterDark, this idiom is indicative of a Javy Baez exploit that leaves onlookers feeling moved both viscerally and emotionally. Since sunset during baseball season is generally late in the evening, “after dark” connotes various activities typically reserved for when the lights go out.
Shortened form of Best Fans in Baseball, the term applied to the St. Louis Cardinals’ fanbase. Thanks in no small part to @BestFansStLouis and more, BFIB has shifted from a self-important label of pride in Redbird Nation to one of derision and mockery from pretty much everyone else. The proliferation of 140-treatises on The Cardinal Way has largely contributed to the team overtaking the Yankees in terms of general hatred. Then again, those of us not bathed in and been indoctrinated by the power of devil magic (see below) are not classy enough to criticize the BFIB the right way.
Smaller personnel moves and steps forward for the franchise that provide fans with a bit of a pre-dinner snack. As in, we’re not serving you the whole meal, but we’ve baked a few free-agent cookies for you.
When you toil in another paper’s shadow, you need to find ways to boost circulation. While the Chicago Sun-Times has some legitimate journalists, the general editorial direction of their Cubs coverage over the last few years has been negative, jaded, and maybe even a bit dishonest. Whether it’s from personal bias over a chilly relationship with the current regime that contrasts sharply with the buddy-buddy Jim Hendry days or just flat-out editorial direction (and I think it’s plenty of both), the CST has been somewhat maligned online.
Largely defunct, this sarcastic euphemism was used to describe the failings and flailings of a team largely devoid of talent hope. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? Finding new ways of looking really awful on the field? That’s so #Cubes.
A specialized form of voodoo or necromancy native to the greater St. Louis area. Its practitioners have been able to restore careers long believed lost due to age, injury, or general lack of efficacy. They’ve had to take pains to hide the nature of this legerdemain, even going so far as to stage a hacking scandal and calling John Mozeliak general manager and not witch doctor. It’s hard to hide the truth from the all-seeing eye of social media though, so the Cards are looking to parlay a TV deal into a bigger payroll. Even so, you can expect monument to mediocrity Mike Leake to be among the Cy Young finalists in 2016.
Combination of the last names of the Cubs’ two most prominent personnel execs. Sometimes expressed as Jedstein.
Emojis are ideograms that have come into vogue due to their usefulness in expressing sentiments on Twitter without taking up too many characters. Generally expressed as , the full written form was popularized by @Cubs, arguably the best Twitter account in all of professional sports, and is often employed by emoji hipsters and people like me who can’t figure out how to utilize the cute little pics on the full version of Twitter dot com. The fire emoji is particularly useful because it’s polysemous and can be used to denote either a fiery hot take (dude, that CST article was ) or a really great play (dude, that Bryant bomb was ). Or you can remove any ambiguity by combining with (poop emoji).
Used to playfully tweak Sahadev Sharma, BP Wrigleyville’s editor-in-chief, this one hasn’t popped up quite as often since said EIC became #bigtime and started showing up all over TV.
While generally used with more than a little sarcasm behind it, this was actually used with a fair bit of seriousness during the 2014 season. Not a whole lot of seriousness to it these days though.
Nicknames for Gordon Wittenmyer and Paul Sullivan, local scribes who’ve each produced their fair share of questionable storylines over the last few years. I could throw in other names for these two, or for Rick Tellander and others, but I’m trying to keep this column from being NSFW.
Get your mind out the gutter, this is no more salacious than any other on-field celebratory display. Thought to have been started by Starlin Castro and/or Jonathan Herrera (see, he did provide something to the team in 2015!), the ritual of shampooing one’s helmet with pine tar quickly became a mainstay. The pantomime grew so popular that it inspired shirts for Social Media Night at Wrigley and even had Herrera rocking the world’s creepiest headgear — a pair of disembodied hands glued to a replica batting helmet.
An opinion generally based in fallacy and often running contrary to fact or commonly-accepted belief. Very prevalent in meatball circles, hot takes have also become quite commonplace among journalists as well.
Someone with a irrepressible, and perhaps unhealthy, infatuation with Jed Hoyer.
A large percentage of any fanbase, meatballs are those individuals who’d prefer to rely on their own misguided beliefs rather than pay attention to anything deeper than the stats in the box score. While most are perfectly harmless and can even be reasoned with, some are fueled by a deep-seated ignorance that defies logic. Will often resort to name-calling if you disagree and believe that those who use big words and advanced metrics are the dumb ones.
Overused term to describe an overriding concept present in the writings of a particular journalist and/or publication. See also: CST
Rebuild my balls
This idiom gained a small measure of Twitter fame when a fan who refused to acknowledge the efficacy of The Plan exclaimed: “Rebuild my balls.” What really makes this fun is the missing comma, which makes the statement sound more like a request to restore the complainant’s maimed manhood than a dig at the Cubs’ strategy.
This was all the rage during the days of 100-loss seasons and shrinking payrolls. Though now defunct, many proponents of the Ricketts cheap theory still hold that it was their bellyaching that led the Cubs owner to splurge.
Wrigley’s right field video board, so named after Kyle Schwarber christened it with a monster home run (or Schwarbomb) in the 2015 NLDS.
The energy radiating from Jorge Soler, most frequently expressed in the form of screaming line drives that put lives, gloves, and outfield walls in danger.
This now-epic tweet is the first and only from (fake) Jed Hoyer’s account. So who set it up? Hoyer claims to know, but isn’t naming names. Nearly seven years old, the sensual sentiment expressed in those 11 characters continues to bear relevance as the Cubs add big names and have fans frothing at the mouth.
— Jed Hoyer (@JedHoyer_) April 14, 2009
A combination of physical talent and mythical hype that imbues elite-level prospects with a glittering visage. See also: unicorn.
Someone, most likely a hack blogger in his mother’s basement or one of his/her brainwashed minions, who supports Theo Epstein despite his failure to repeat the success of Jim Hendry. Coined by a well-know detractor of The Plan¹, Theobots are people who have the unfathomable ability to see beyond the points at the ends of their noses.
Theo’s Boy Band
First used by CST scribe Rick Morrissey, this term describes a group of Theobots voicing displeasure with his hot takes, often in harmony. If you check the tweet below close enough, you’ll see that it was favorited by the previous entry’s originator. And the snake eats its tail.
Uh-oh, Theo's boy band of GM wannabes after me again. #Cubs
— Rick Morrissey (@MorrisseyCST) July 31, 2015
Ryan Theriot may be gone, but his impact on social media lingo lingers. I don’t think I can break down Tony Jewell’s gem of a term better than Rob Neyer did on JABO back in June, so here is his definition:
Short for Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop, TOOTBLAN was created on May 7, 2008, to settle an acrimonious dispute among Cubs fans about whether shortstop Ryan Theriot was any good at baseball. Theriot supporters pointed to his high on-base percentage (.406 at the time), while detractors pointed to his lack of range in the field and his propensity to run into outs after getting on base.
TOOTBLAN is part of a larger statistic known as the Ryan Theriot Adjusted On-Base Percentage (RTAOBP or aOBP, for short), which adjusts OBP for on-base, non-force outs. Here is the formula: RTAOBP = (Hits+Walks+HBP-CS-Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop)/Plate Appearances (AB+BB+HBP+SF).
A player who chooses to leave one team for another, particularly when said new team is a rival of the old one. A homophonous misuse of “traitor,” trader is frequently utilized by those who vocabulistics ain’t so good. Makes frequent appearances during the offseasons of various sports and was very popular in the aftermath of Jason Heyward’s decision to join the Cubs. See also: buyest
Not just a mythical creature with a single horn, this term can be used to describe a prospect who is too good to be true. Kris Bryant, for instance, is a unicorn.
We are good
Miguel Montero was a big part of what made the Cubs so much fun in 2015, but perhaps his greatest contribution was #wearegood. Montero’s innocuous little hashtag quickly went viral and helped to endear the happy-go-lucky backstop to his new fanbase.
Former Baseball Prospectus writer Kevin Goldstein coined #weirdbaseball to denote a game that had crossed the threshold of midnight and was likely to produce some strange outcomes. Since most games start at around 7 or 8pm local time, you can imagine that a game that presses into a new day is probably in extra innings.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few words and phrases here or there, so please let me know if you’d like to see something added to the lexicon. My hope is that at least one of you out there feels better equipped to head online and understand exactly what’s being said.
It’s what you use when just one just one “O” won’t do. Another manifestation of MiggyMont’s manic mind, this mangled missive titillated Twitter and gained wide use as a response to particularly awesome exploits.
¹I’ve come across plenty of folks with whom I don’t agree, some of which I flat-out don’t care for. But when I learned that one of the people with whom I’ve had a great deal of beef had been diagnosed with cancer, it kind of put things back into perspective for me. I know he’ll never read this, but I just want to wish Nick Vlahos strength for his battle and to let him know that he’s in my prayers.