Sunday, July 08, 2007

A foul phrase

The resident baseball fan wandered into the room and pulled the earphones away from his ears just long enough to utter the following remarkable sentence: "The Indians are being no-hit."

What he means, of course, is that the Cleveland Indians are on the losing end of a no-hitter, but when you take the noun "no-hitter" and transform it into the verb "no-hit," suddenly the syntax gets very interesting. The Indians are not hitting the ball, but I can't imagine anyone saying they are "no-hitting the ball," because no-hitters are perpetrated by pitchers, not hitters (and not not-hitters either).

Put it in the passive voice--"The Indians are being no-hit"--and the hitters (or not-hitters) become the victims of the pitcher's action (throwing a no-hitter). The hitters are acted upon rather than acting, but I doubt that they are standing at home plate with their hands in their pockets as the ball whizzes past. Where is the verb to describe what they are doing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do believe the phrase you're looking for here is "losing pitifully."